The Blue Jays head into Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas for a weekend series against the struggling Texas Rangers. These are the series going down the stretch that the club needs to step on the neck of their opponents and not just win the series but sweep them. The Rangers have been struggling and have lost 10 of their last 11 games including being walked off in two of those games.
The two teams haven’t played since the opening series of the season that saw the Blue Jays win two of the three games. Friday night’s game will see Dane Dunning, who happened to be a Blue Jays draft pick back in 2013 that went unsigned, pitching against Ross Stripling. Dunning started the second game of the opening series picking up the loss when he tossed five innings surrendering three runs on five hits over five innings, which included a Bo Bichette home run.
The right-hander faced the Blue Jays once before in 2021 and was more effective that outing, as he allowed just one run over five innings picking up the win, but again surrendered a Bichette home run. In total, Dunning has a career record of 1-0, with a 3.60 ERA over his two starts against the Blue Jays.
As you can imagine Bichette has had the most success against Dunning as he is 3 for 6 with the pair of home runs, especially since he is one of the hottest hitters. In September, Bichette is currently 16 for 31 (.516) in seven games with eight extra-base hits and 14 RBI. Another player to also watch for is George Springer as he was 2 for 2 against Dunning in their first matchup.
The Blue Jays will lean on former Texas A&M star Stripling to give the Blue Jays a good start to the weekend. Stripling played his NCAA baseball three hours south of Globe Life Field so you can imagine he’ll have some motivation to have a solid outing. The right-hander has made just one prior appearance at that field, which was his last start as a Los Angeles Dodger back in 2020.
Stripling failed to get through the fifth inning as the right-handed pitcher allowed a total of four runs, two of which were via the home run. During the season opener series, he made two appearances out of the bullpen. He needed just eight pitches to get a pair of flyouts and ground out to get through his first appearances, however, struggled in his second time taking the mound; Stripling surrendered three walks, along with a single that led to a pair of runs in the Blue Jays first loss of the season.
The Blue Jays head into Texas red hot and need to take advantage of a struggling Texas Rangers if they want to secure a postseason spot.
Since moving full-time to the starting rotation, Stripling has helped the Blue Jays to win 10 of his 14 starts, while posting a 6-3 record and a 2.52 ERA. Stripling has shown great control on his pitches as he has allowed more than one walk in just two of those 14 starts and has now given the club four consecutive quality starts.
Jays fans will get to see Marcus Semien once again, who is hitting a lot better than when he faced his former club to start the season as in his first three games he went just 1 for 13 (.077) with four strikeouts. However, over his last 17 games, Semien has gone hitless in just two games collecting ten extra-base hits that have helped him go 22 for 72 (.306) during that span.
Saturday afternoon’s game will see Kohei Arihara go up against Kevin Gausman. This will be the first time that Arihara has faced off against the Blue Jays as the former Nippon Professional Baseball league pitcher came over to North America for the 2021 season. Arihara had a rough 2021 campaign as he posted a 6.64 ERA over just ten starts and spent the majority of the 2022 season playing for the Round Rock Express in Triple-A for the Rangers. Arihara was called up in mid-August, but after his third start and surrendering six runs over 3.1 innings against the Detroit Tigers, he was moved to the bullpen where he made one appearance last weekend and has now been summoned back to the rotation.
Gausman made his Blue Jays debut earlier this season against the Rangers where he was still working out the kinks, picking up a no-decision when he surrendered three runs on eight hits over five innings. Gausman has made eight career appearances (seven starts) against the Rangers and has posted a 3-2 record with a 3.11 ERA. He has not started in Texas since 2017, but that outing saw him come one out away from a shutout, however, he was pulled in the ninth with a pair of runners on.
The Blue Jays have not announced their starter for Sunday at the time of this writing, but the Rangers will be starting veteran Martin Perez, who has eight career games against the Blue Jays. The Jays have not faced Perez this season but hit well off of him last year. The 31-year-old lefty faced Toronto twice in 2022, both times when he was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
In the first appearance, he was unable to get out of the second inning as he allowed five runs, including home runs to Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr and his current teammate Semien that led to a Blue Jays 18-4 thumping of the Red Sox. His second appearance was out of the bullpen where he allowed a leadoff single to Randal Grichuk who scored on an RBI triple by Springer.
Headed into the weekend the Blue Jays have won eight of their past ten games and currently hold down the final Wild Card spot and are a half-game behind the Seattle Mariners while leading the Baltimore Orioles by four and a half games.