Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays @ Chicago White Sox: Full series preview

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Jun 19, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) celebrates with third base coach Luis Rivera (4) after hitting a two run home run in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) celebrates with third base coach Luis Rivera (4) after hitting a two run home run in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Blue Jays enter their series in Chicago at 40-34, leaving them 2.5 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles

After the Jays offensive outburst last week and for the majority of the month of June, they dropped two straight to the Orioles and the first game in their short series against the Diamondbacks, but managed to respond Wednesday afternoon thanks to home runs from Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion.

They’ve snapped their little three-game losing streak, and head to Chicago to face the White Sox who are coming off a 3-1 road series win in Boston.

The home run from Tulo was the most encouraging of the three, due in part to the return of the real Martin since his early struggles, and the hot streak Edwin has been on. Since returning from the DL, Tulo is 5/14 (.357) with two home runs. If this is the start of the resurgence on the real Tulo, then the offence is set to receive another huge boost.

Many of Tulo’s numbers are close to what they were last year, and while he wasn’t great with the Jays after his arrival, he still put together a set of numbers that are excellent from a good defensive shortstop. Both his walk and strikeout rates are up, and despite his struggles, the silver lining exists in the fact that his ISO is up over 40 points, and his hard hit rate is still a very solid 34.1, which is only 0.3 points below his career rate.

Both ISO and hard hit rate are good indicators of regression and career decline due to age, and to see those numbers at a good place is a good sign his struggles aren’t indicative of a sharp career decline. His BABIP is a putrid .238, and a large part of that is due to his very low line drive rate of 11.4%, but it’s bound to turn around with consistent hard contact.

Line drive, ground ball, and fly ball percentages are more likely to move closer to career norms than how hard that contact may be, barring any approach or mechanical changes. To conclude this short summary of Tulo’s struggles at the plate, there are some good signs in his hitting profile, and his recent success could be a sign of things to come for the veteran.

Devon Travis has turned it on as of late and given a huge spark to the offence, and the run of success from Edwin and Michael Saunders combined with important contributions from Ezequiel Carrera has been what’s making the offence run. Jose Bautista’s return is unknown at the moment, but when he returns to health and form, you’re looking at the offence that could be the most dangerous in the league.

The Jays will send Aaron Sanchez, R.A. Dickey and Marcus Stroman to the mound in this three-game set, while Chicago responds with their own young, dynamic arm in Carlos Rodon in the first of three, followed by the familiar Miguel Gonzalez and the dominant Chris Sale.

For the Jays to have success in this series, they’ll need to take advantage of the first two matchups they get. Rodon has immense talent and very good stuff, but that’s failed to deliver consistent quality results so far in 2016, and the familiarity the Jays have with Gonzalez from his days with the Orioles should be a large advantage.

First up, we take a look Across the Diamond at the White Sox bats:

Next: Know your enemy: White Sox offence lacks punch

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