Toronto Blue Jays News

Can Blue Jays stay hot against the Orioles? Full series preview

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Jun 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (center) celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 16, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (center) celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Baltimore Orioles (June 17 – 19)

It’s finally time to say that the Blue Jays are truly rolling. I don’t think they’re at the point where they were post-deadline last season, but it’s close. The offence is firing on all cylinders, led by Edwin Encarnacion who is absolutely crushing the ball as of late, the pitching has continued to impress, and the bullpen has solidified itself.

They’ve caught up to the Orioles and Red Sox in the AL East and they look like a team that can contend with anyone in the league. This is the type of team we’ve been expecting since the season started, and once Troy Tulowitzki returns, you’re looking at the lineup that led them to the ALCS last year.

After yesterday’s offensive outburst, their team wRC+ sits at 103, which places them in eighth place, the highest it’s been all year. Over the last 14 days, that number is an outstanding 131, and the aforementioned Encarnacion is leading the way. We’re witnessing Edwin go on one of his patented hot streaks.

Since the beginning of June, he’s raised his OPS from .760 to .863 in 47 AB’s thanks to his .289/.414/.809/1.222 slash rate with 7 HR, 17 RBI and a sparkling 9:8 BB:K ratio. His discipline has improved tenfold, and the power spike has been tremendous. His wRC+ is up to 130 on the year now, inching closer to last year’s mark of 150.

Josh Donaldson has also been fabulous lately after limping through the majority of May. Donaldson’s June slash rate rits at .318/.475/.682/1.156 with 3 HR, 14 RBI and a 14:9 BB:K ratio. With these two guys in the middle of the lineup, it’s a scary matchup for any pitcher.

Despite Jose Bautista’s struggles, the lineup has been fantastic. Michael Saunders continues to be a consistent machine when healthy, Kevin Pillar has been on fire at the dish lately, moving his season long wRC+ to 90 after his two home runs night, just three points under last year’s mark. That 90 wRC+ is less than impressive on it’s own, but when it’s coming with the arguably the league’s best defender, it’s something that carries huge value.

Devon Travis seems to be coming around after cutting his rehab assignment short leading to struggles, and Russell Martin continues to improve his numbers. Like I said, this lineup isn’t at the point it was during the stretch run of last year, but it’s certainly showing signs of getting there for the first time this year.

This weekend’s series against the Orioles offers a couple of tantalizing matchups for Jays hitters. Mike Wright has struggled against the Jays in the past, including his last start, and is simply putting together a poor campaign. Yovani Gallardo has had success against the Jays in the past, but had a rough start to the year before hitting the DL. This will be his first start since returning as he takes the place of Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation.

Before we break down the three pitching matchups, let’s take a look across the diamond at the Blue Jays’ formidable opponent:

Next: Orioles rotation holding them back

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