Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians

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High Scoring Blue Jays Make Lone Trip to Cleveland

The Indians and Blue Jays both sit at the bottom of the scrap heap in their respective divisions. So when first pitch takes place tonight, it will be the start of a four game series between two last place teams. Standings can be deceiving though because these two teams couldn’t be more different.

The Indians come into this weekend’s four game set as one of the worst teams in baseball, 7-13. Their offense has shown little to no pop, with the exception of a 13-run outburst last weekend in Detroit, their bullpen has been a sieve in terms of keeping runs off the board, and injuries have taken their toll. If this team ends up a World Series contender by season’s end, it will make for one hell of a highlight DVD.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays sit at the bottom of the highly contested AL East standings. So while they currently look up at the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Orioles, with a record of 10-12, they possess an offense with enough firepower to mash their way back up to the top of the standings in a week’s time.

Apr 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) gets ready for a pitch during the sixth inning in the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. The Tampa Bay Rays won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Entering tonight’s game, the Jays lead the major’s in runs scored with 117, or about five runs per contest. They rank sixth in slugging at .429 and have raked 28 homers as a team, good enough for fifth most. With a lineup that contains Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is what the Blue Jays do and have done over the past three or four seasons.

The problem, once again, is the Blue Jays’ pitching staff. They just are not getting the job done. Collectively, the Jays have one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, ranking 29th in ERA at 4.96, 26th in WHIP at 1.45, 22nd in quality starts, and 24th in batting average against at .268. Needless to say, for all the work the offense does to put runs on the board, it is consistently undone by a pitching staff that is not carrying its weight.

For years now, the Blue Jays have repeatedly watched veteran acquisitions, super-star signings, and can’t miss prospects… well, swing and miss. R.A. Dickey was acquired from the Mets a year after winning the NL Cy Young award. He hasn’t been the same since. Mark Buehrle has been adequate, but his best years are easily behind him. Drew Hutchison was expected to be the staff’s ace, but the young fireballer has struggled to start the season. Even Marcus Stroman, the heralded savior of the pitching staff has been a non-factor thanks to a season ending knee injury this spring.

It’s been a revolving door of issues such as these with the pitching staff that has kept a usually potent Jays team out of the playoffs. Now, with the team primed for success and the possibility of making a run very real, it’s still not enough because the pitching cannot get it’s act together.

It’s made even more frustrating because the Jays’ offense is finding a way to succeed, once again, without Jose “Don’t call me Mr. Glass” Reyes. Reyes went on the DL earlier this week thanks to a mysterious cracked rib. He attempted to play through the pain, hitting only from the right side, but the decision was ultimately made that avoiding greater injury was in everyone’s best interest. How the rib became cracked is anyone’s best guess. I like to think it happened either by breathing normally or straining too hard to force out a fart.

The lesson as always, never trust a fart.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Daniel Norris (1-1, 4.43 ERA/1.43 WHIP) vs. T.J. House (0-3, 12.60/2.60)

Mark Buehrle (3-1, 4.94/1.73) vs. Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 4.60/1.34)

Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 5.03/1.68) vs. Coey Kluber (0-3, 4.24/1.26)

Drew Hutchison (2-0, 6.67/1.52) vs. Trevor Bauer (2-0, 1.80/1.12)

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