Blue Jays Series Preview: Texas Rangers visit for ALDS re-match

Jul 20, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (left) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 20, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (left) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Well, well, well…look what we have here. A weekend series with the Texas Rangers is on tap for the Toronto Blue Jays as Toronto kicks off a 10 game homestand that will also feature the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.

This will be the first time the Blue Jays and Rangers meet since the Blue Jays swept the Rangers in dramatic fashion which is now known as the Donaldson dash.

Speaking of Josh Donaldson, him and Troy Tulowitzki will return to the Blue Jays (21-26) lineup on Friday night. The Rangers (24-23) started slowly out of the gates much like the Blue Jays, but a 10 game win streak propelled Texas back into 2nd in the AL West. Despite the big push, they still trail the 31-16 Houston Astros by 7.0 games.

As we all know, the Blue Jays started 2-11. They now sit 5 games below .500 and just 7.5 games back of the Yankees for 1st in the division. The Orioles, who sit in 2nd place are 5.0 games up on the Blue Jays. Considering the start the Blue Jays got off too, it’s incredible that through the 2-11 start and all the injuries that they find themselves in a pretty good position. The division has not gotten away from them with just over 4 months left to play.

What You Need To Know

TV: Sportsnet One (Friday), Sportsnet (Saturday & Sunday)

Radio: Sportsnet 590 The Fan

Probable Pitchers

Friday, May 26th, 7:07 PM

RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1, 5.02 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Bolsinger (0-2, 6.32 ERA)

The last start for A.J. Griffin took place last week Saturday against the Detroit Tigers and it was not pretty. Griffin was tagged for 9 runs in just 3.1 innings thrown. Griffin surrendered 4 home runs in that start. Despite the lackluster outing last time out, don’t let that cloud your judgment. Griffin is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in his career against the Toronto Blue Jays.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Mike Bolsinger gets the start against the Rangers. Bolsinger will be making his 4th start of the season for Toronto. 1 was good. 1 was bad. 1 was so-so. With the returns of J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano imminent, this could very well be the last turn Bolsinger in the Blue Jays rotation. It will be interesting to see how they handle Bolsinger as he is out of options. If Bolsinger pitches well, the Blue Jays may move him to the bullpen to avoid putting him on waivers.

Saturday, May 27th1:07 PM

RHP Yu Darvish (5-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (3-2, 3.30 ERA)

Yu Darvish is fully healthy again and it shows with his 2.83 ERA. Despite that great ERA, Darvish is posting a lower K/9 and a higher BB/9 thus far. His FIP is also at 3.80, nearly a full run higher than his ERA. Darvish has been good, but perhaps there has been some luck involved as well. He does have a 85.8% runners left on base percentage. For his career, Darvish is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA against Toronto.

Countering Yu Darvish is the Blue Jays ace, Marco Estrada. Estrada is coming off a start at the Baltimore Orioles where he tied his career high in strikeouts with 12. Estrada currently sits 8th in the MLB and 3rd in the American League in strikeouts with 70. A combination of a slight velocity uptick, throwing more changeups and what appears to be more of a rise on his fastball has contributed to him turning into more of a strikeout machine.

If you’re coming to any of the games this weekend, this is the one. Darvish vs. Estrada. Ace vs. Ace.

Sunday, May 28th1:07 PM

RHP Andrew Cashner (1-4, 3.18 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Biagini (As Starter: 1-1, 4.15 ERA)

This start for Andrew Cashner will be his 2nd career start against the Toronto Blue Jays. Cashner’s only other start against the Blue Jays was last year in Toronto on July 26th. That was the San Diego Padres first visit to Toronto in franchise history. It was also Andrew Cashner’s last start for the Padres before being traded to the Miami Marlins. Don’t let Cashner’s 3.18 ERA fool you. He is posting a 4.17 K/9, 4.96 BB/9, and 5.04 FIP. He hasn’t been THAT good this season.

Joe Biagini’s last start came Tuesday in a win at Miller Park over the Milwaukee Brewers. Biagini was cruising over the Brewers but ran into trouble in the 5th inning which ultimately ended his night. One important thing to note is that Biagini did build up his pitch count to a career high 77. Biagini has shown signs of tiring the 2nd and 3rd time through the order, but hopefully, the more he throws, the deeper he will go. That is the hope of the Blue Jays until the rotation gets healthy again.

Final Thoughts

The return of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki will without provide a spark to the Blue Jays offense. The team is slowly getting healthier. Want some optimism? See the Blue Jays records on May 24th the past 2 seasons:

Next: Blue Jays’ Donaldson, Tulowitzki to return to lineup on Friday