The Toronto Blue Jays enter play on Friday still locked in a tie atop the American League East with the Boston Red Sox
All of the sudden, the American League East has flatlined. Only the Boston Red Sox (6-4) are over .500 in their last 10 games. The Blue Jays have stayed down the middle with a 5-5 record while the Baltimore Orioles (4-6) now sit one game back.
Following a convincing 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in their most recent series, the Blue Jays then fell flat and lost the nest two. Last night in the finale, Jered Weaver — one of baseball’s least effective starting pitchers by a variety of measurements — shut down the Jays bats almost entirely.
The Blue Jays have now been held to three runs or less in four of their last six games, but with the potential return of Devon Travis (knuckle) to the lineup and Jose Bautista‘s recent activation from the disabled list, Toronto’s optimum lineup is in place.
All eyes in this series will be on the Toronto bullpen, where Brett Cecil‘s continued struggles are cause for concern as the playoffs approach. Beyond Cecil, current starter Francisco Liriano may be the safest bet the Blue Jays have for another left-hander in October.
Story to watch: Prior to this series, the Minnesota Twins have recalled right-handed reliever Alex Wimmers. The 27-year-old was drafted 21st overall back in 2010, the same year that Toronto selected Aaron Sanchez 34th, but after a long road through the minor leagues is finally poised to make his MLB debut. With triple-A Rochester this season, Wimmers owns a 3.99 ERA over 39 relief appearances.
Big picture stats:
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- At 49-78, the Twins rank last in the American League Central.
- Minnesota’s offence has been league-average, though, ranking 15th in total runs scored and 17th in team batting average.
- With 150 home runs, Minnesota ranks 16th. Toronto’s 181 tie them for second with the St. Louis Cardinals behind the Baltimore Orioles, who have 197.
- The Twins fall completely flat when it comes to pitching. Their 5.00 team ERA is second-worst in baseball to only the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- Opponents are hitting .284 off of Twins pitchers, the highest in baseball.
Twins to watch:
- Joe Mauer is questionable for this series as he continues to deal with quad soreness and was not in the lineup on Thursday.
- Brian Dozier continues to power the Twins. The second-baseman has 30 home runs already with a .342 on-base percentage.
- Miguel Sano isn’t far behind with 20 home runs of his own, hitting .242.
- Max Kepler leads all American League rookies with 55 RBI and has hit 15 home runs.
- Brandon Kintzler has been Minnesota’s most effective reliever. While he’s not a strikeout arm with just 5.6 per nine innings, he’s walked just three batters in 41.2 innings and earned a 1.73 ERA.
- This isn’t an ideal time for the Blue Jays to be facing Ervin Santana. The right-hander, who was rumoured to be linked to Toronto ahead of the trade deadline, owns a 1.71 ERA in nine starts since the first of July.
Friday, August 26th – 7:07 p.m. ET
LHP Francisco Liriano (6-12, 5.21 ERA) vs. LHP Pat Dean (1-3, 5.48 ERA)
Saturday, August 27th – 1:07 p.m. ET
RHP Marcus Stroman (9-5, 4.47 ERA) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (6-10, 3.33 ERA)