Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays look to continue hot streak against Tigers: Full series preview

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Jun 5, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) celebrates with Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) after defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) celebrates with Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) after defeating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays are now 31-27, 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in the American League East

The Jays have look to finally turned the corner in their 2016 season. Over the last four series – two against the Yankees and two against the Red Sox – the Jays went 9-3. That’s a huge stretch of solid play against two AL East rivals, one of which was amongst the league’s best going into the last two weeks.

Over the previous 14 days entering play on Sunday afternoon, the Jays offence has posted a wRC+ of 102, which isn’t a number that will blow you away, but it’s better than the season long mark of 96 that they own. While that’s a modest improvement, and it’s a step in the right direction for an offence that’s been unable to put together a steady stretch of improved performance, they still look on paper as a team that should be performing better.

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It’s been the continued success of their pitching that has allowed them to put together this run they’ve been on. Over those same 14 days before Marco Estrada‘s brilliant start, their pitching staff had posted a 3.25 ERA across 108 IP. Their 3.96 FIP and 4.32 xFIP aren’t as impressive, but as a whole, the staff continues to prove they have the skillset necessary to outpitch their peripherals.

Estrada delivered two more great starts, the same goes for J.A. Happ, and Aaron Sanchez continued his dominance. R.A. Dickey continues to improve his numbers, and the bullpen has put together a stretch of consistently strong performances. Surprisingly, it’s been Marcus Stroman who has been dragging the pitching staff down recently. He gave up six and seven earned runs in each of his last two starts, both against the Red Sox.

I won’t dive into the recent struggles of Marcus Stroman here, and I don’t think those struggles are here to stay over the long term, but he was unquestionably the weakest link during the team’s recent success.

On the offensive side of the ball, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin led the way. Edwin seemed to finally break out and looks like the Edwin we’re accustomed to seeing. Martin on the other hand, clearly wasn’t right early on this year, but he broke out of it with a two homer game on May 25.

Josh Donaldson continued his success, including a massive two-homer game on May 27 against Boston. And last but not least, Darwin Barney. The guy continues to hit at a pace that is completely unprecedented according to his career numbers, and we should enjoy it while it lasts.

Now for a quick look across the diamond before we examine the individual pitching matchups:

Next: 1st Stop: Tell me about those Tigers...

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