Apr
29

Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

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We’re starting to get into repeat mode here in the end of April, as the Yankees are starting to play some clubs for the second time in 2011. They played the Orioles for the second time last weekend, and this weekend it’s the Toronto Blue Jays. The two teams split a two-game set in Toronto about a week-and-a-half ago, and surely you remember that Mariano Rivera blown save in the first game.

What Have The Blue Jays Done Lately?

Unlike the last few teams the Yankees have played, the Blue Jays are coming in hot. They just took three of four from the Rangers in Arlington, outscoring the defending AL Champs 27-16. Although they’re just 8-12 since a 4-1 start, Toronto is coming to the Bronx with some momentum and feeling pretty good about themselves.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Blue Jays on Offense

Jose Bautista! Seriously, he’s the only everyday player on the team with a wOBA better than a .334. Of course he leads all of baseball at .542, and right now he’s getting on base more than 52% of the time. His eight homers and .360 batting average are the best in the AL. However, it’s worth noting that in the seventh inning of yesterday’s game, Bautista took a 93 mph Pedro Strop fastball to his left wrist, sending him to the ground in obvious pain. He remained in the game and drew five pitch walk in the ninth, and as far as I know he’ll be in the lineup this weekend. Fastballs to the wrist are never good though.

Aside from Bautista, both Juan Rivera (ten for his last 26 with two homers, six walks, and three strikeouts) and Adam Lind (12 for his last 38 with two doubles and three homers) are coming into the series hot. Nobody else is though. That’s generally what happens the rest of the lineup is filled by guys like John McDonald (.303 wOBA), Mike McCoy (.281 wOBA), Corey Patterson (.318 wOBA), Edwin Encarnacion (.293 wOBA), Jayson Nix (two for his last 16), and Yunel Escobar (.192/.192/.269 since April 16th). Travis Snider was just sent to the minors in favor of former first rounder David Cooper, who had a .459 wOBA in Triple-A. Toronto’s 21st best prospect (according to Baseball America) will probably make his big league debut at some point this weekend.

Blue Jays on the Mound

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Friday: Ricky Romero, LHP: It’s a tough assignment right off the bat, as Toronto is running their ace out there later tonight. Romero has pitched as well as pretty much anyone in the AL so far, striking out more than a batter per inning while walking fewer than three men per nine and generating a ground ball on more than half of his balls in play. He gives the Jays length, pitching into the seventh inning in four of his five starts and completing seven innings three times. Ricky does it with four pitches, but one out of every three is a low-90′s two-seamer to get those grounders. A low-90′s four-seamer and a mid-80′s changeup are his two other primary weapons, and every once in a while he’ll break out a loopy, 70-something mile-an-hour curve. Romero is quietly ascending into the category of the game’s elite starters, so this will be a tough game.

Saturday: Kyle Drabek, RHP: The Yankees faced Drabek during their series in Toronto last week, roughing him up for six hits, four walks, and four runs in 5.1 IP. He held the Rangers to three runs over six innings last time out, though the scouting report hasn’t changed since last week. The kid will work himself into trouble with walks, but he has swing-and-miss stuff with his high-octane fastball and curve. Patience.

Sunday: Jesse Litsch, RHP: This is Brett Cecil’s spot, but the certified Yankees Killer™ was demoted to Triple-A after his start against New York last week because he’s dealing with the same problems as Phil Hughes: loss of velocity, loss of control, unexplained dead arm, yadda yadda yadda. About the only interesting thing about Litsch is that he’s a ginger, but aside from that he’s a generic right-hander with 88-90 mph fastballs (two and four-seamers, cutter), a mid-80′s slider, a low-80′s changeup, and the occasional low-80′s curveball. He doesn’t miss many bats, doesn’t walk too many or too few, gets an okay amount of grounders, stuff like that. Litsch has made six career starts against the Yankees, so the They Haven’t Seen Him™ rule doesn’t apply. No offense to the guy, but Jesse Litsch is pretty boring.

Bullpen: Same story as the last time these two clubs played, so there’s not much to add. Jon Rauch is still closing, Frank Francisco is setting up, and Marc Rzepczynski is still handling the lefties.

Recommended Blue Jays Reading: Drunk Jays Fans, Ghostrunner on First, and Tao of Stieb.

Categories : Series Preview
  • bonestock94

    Bautista was my 4th and 3rd round picks in two leagues. I feel like a genius.

    Back to reality though, I can’t stand this team and I hope they sweep them in a degrading manner.

  • pat

    I feel like it’s the boring guys that also give the Yanks problems.

  • jsbrendog

    im glad we dont have to face morrow, he’s been $$$$ in his 2 starts since coming off the dl

  • Billy Mumphrey

    I’m confident in Freddy and AJ but not Nova. I am not confident in Jeter. At least Gardner and Swish are showing signs of getting better. Soriano is a disaster and hopefully doesn’t pitch the 8th in this series. Bartolo and CC back to back is the best 1-2 punch in all of baseball.

    • pat

      Not to mention competitive eating.

    • thumper

      Those two over in Los Angles of Anaheim of California of the United States of America might beg to differ.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        But Bartolo and Colon are heavyweights, and Weaver and Haren are bantamweights at best. Our husky lardbutt guys definitely have more punching power than their wiry skinny waterbugs.

        Fat >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> skinny

        • thumper

          Oh I see what you did there…that would make it /Joba to the 9th!!!! If’ we’re going all in on the size, we might as well close it out all nice and proper.

    • Now Batting

      You must be joking. Ever hear of these two guys called Halladay and Lee?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Weaver and Haren are currently outpitching Halladay and Lee. By pretty much every single worthwhile metric, btw.

  • Yank the Frank

    All of these home games in April may come back to haunt us in September. I hope we turn into road warriors.

    • Rick in Boston

      August is the month to worry about – 9 home games, 19 road games. September is fairly even – 11 home games/13 roads games.

      The breakdown by month (April reflects games played, not rainouts; re-scheduled games not included):

      Mar/Apr – 17 home/7 road
      May – 13/16
      June – 16/10
      July – 13/14
      August – 9/19
      September – 11/13

  • vin

    Love the “recommended reading” section of these posts. I was going to suggest you guys add that feature during the offseason, but forgot to follow through. It makes for a more thorough fan experience.

  • mbonzo

    Litsch might be boring, but I think he’s gonna be a breakout candidate this year. His minor league numbers were all pretty good, when he was 22-23 he posted a 3.67 ERA in the AL East over 49 games. In 2011 he’s got a 3.31 FIP and 3.86 ERA so far despite a .320 babip and slightly low 67.5% LOB rate. One thing thats cool about him… he has a 5 pitch repertoire.

  • Guest

    Jose Bautista. I just don’t know what to think about all of that.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    However, it’s worth noting that in the seventh inning of yesterday’s game, Bautista took a 93 mph Pedro Strop fastball to his left wrist, sending him to the ground in obvious pain.

    That will probably “strop” his hot streak, eh?
    http://www.instantrimshot.com

    Guess Jose won’t be voting for Pedro.
    http://www.instantrimshot.com

    I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitresses.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Sunday: Jesse Litsch, RHP: This is Brett Cecil’s spot, but the certified Yankees Killer™ was demoted to Triple-A after his start against New York last week because he’s dealing with the same problems as Phil Hughes: loss of velocity, loss of control, unexplained dead arm, yadda yadda yadda.

    /FredPhelpsBait’d

  • http://www.twitter.com/vscafuto Vinny Scafuto

    Can’t wait to see the Jesse Litsch batboy footage. Again.

    /sigh

  • the tenth inning stretch

    Is it bad of me to secretly hope that the wrist HBP turns Bautista into a slow Brett Gardner?