After starting their home stand with a 6-1 record, the Blue Jays welcome the Rex Sox for a 4-game series, and get to play against their division rival at the perfect time.
After last night’s Blue Jays’ win combined with a Red Sox loss, the difference between the two teams is now just 5.0 games in the standings. The Sox have fallen behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the division lead, but they’re still holding on to the top Wild Card spot as of this writing, leading the A’s by 2.5 games. The Jays have a lot of work to do to catch up with them, but this weekend presents an important opportunity.
For starters, the Blue Jays are rolling right now, getting excellent production all around from their starting rotation, and riding some hot bats like George Springer and Bo Bichette to their latest flurry of wins. While the Jays have struggled against some of the better teams in baseball, they took care of business against Kansas City and Cleveland, setting themselves up to take another important step against Boston. With the winning streak, the trade deadline additions, and a recent return to the Rogers Centre in Toronto, the momentum has never been as strong for this club as it is now.
On top of that, the Red Sox are starting to come back down to earth lately, having lost five of their last six games, and going just 3-7 over their last ten. They only picked up one win against the lowly Detroit Tigers in their three-game series that ended on Thursday, and they were swept by the Rays before that. In fact, since the Blue Jays laid a 13-1 beating on them on July 29th, their pitching staff has really been struggling.
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It’s been a tough stretch for their starting rotation in particular, and hopefully the Blue Jays can take advantage of it. The Red Sox will begin the series with Nate Eovaldi, who has been their best starter this season in a bounce-back year from injury. After that things will get interesting, as they’ll roll out Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, and Garrett Richards.
Pivetta, a Canadian right-hander, started off the season by being surprisingly productive for the Red Sox after coming over in a trade last year. However, he’s struggled since the All-Star break, posting a 6.19 ERA and a 1.563 WHIP across his three starts in the second half. A match-up with the mighty Blue Jays’ offence likely isn’t going to make matters any easier for the Canuck hurler. As for Houck, he’s been a pleasant surprise with the Red Sox over his first six outings (4 starts), but he’s a relatively inexperienced arm that the Jays should be able to feast on. In the last of the four-game set the Jays will see Garrett Richards, who has been a very different pitcher over the last two months. In June he had a 7.06 ERA and a WHIP over 2.00, and he really hasn’t been much better since.
On top of hopefully being able to take advantage of a few favourable pitching match-ups, the Blue Jays will get to conclude their season series with the Red Sox before they get any reinforcements back. It’s looking like Chris Sale will be able to re-join the big league club sometime in the next week or two, and the former Cy Young winner will certainly make the Red Sox a better team. They’re also going to get Kyle Schwarber back at some point sooner than later, but it doesn’t look like he’ll return in time for the trip to Toronto.
Since these are the last of the head to head matchups for the two teams, the Blue Jays really need to take advantage of the situation and make up some ground in the standings. Fortunately it looks like they’re getting the Red Sox at the right time, and hopefully they can make it count.