The Toronto Blue Jays roll into Baltimore this weekend with their eyes on the American League East Division
The Baltimore Orioles (38-27) and the Toronto Blue Jays (38-31) will be locking horns for the second time in a week starting on Friday. The Blue Jays managed to grab 3 of 4 in the series in Toronto last weekend and will be looking to edge a little closer to the division lead with another strong showing.
BAL- (Starters) 4.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 1.15 HR/9, 7.2 K/9, .271/.336/.445
TOR – (Starters) 3.66 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 1.05 HR/9, 6.9 K/9, .232/.298/.390
BAL – (Relievers) 2.97 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 0.95 HR/9, 8.13 K/9, .250/.319/.387
TOR – (Relievers) 4.10 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 1.12 HR/9, 8.76 K/9, .262/.327/.417
Baltimore – R/G 4.8 – .259/.324/.456 – 226 XBH – 8.6 K/G
Toronto – R/G 4.6 – .245/.325/.429 – 225 XBH – 8.1 K/G
History: These long time divisional rivals are very familiar with each other, and have played some extremely emotional series’ in recent year against one another. They have played against each other a total of 588 times, Toronto has had the upper hand, with an all time record of 314 wins, and 274 losses. As expected the Orioles do have the upper hand at home with the Blue Jays possessing a 140-156 record in Baltimore over 296 games, this includes taking a series 2 games to 1 earlier this season. Toronto is leading the 2016 season series 4-3 at the moment.
First Pitch – 7:05 EST
A. Sanchez RHP (2016: 6-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Wright RHP (2016: 4-4, 4.34 ERA)
The Blue Jays will open the series with the much talked about Aaron Sanchez on Friday night. Sanchez (6-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 8.8 K/9) is coming off perhaps his worst start of the season against these same Orioles. The young hurler was touched up for 10 H, 6 ER, with 4 HR over 5.0 IP, but did collect the W with a major assist to the offense.
Over his career Sanchez owns a (2-2, 6.23 ERA, 1.923 WHIP, 6.6 K/9) record against the Orioles, with a (0-2, 6.55 ERA, 1.909 WHIP, 3.3 K/9) record at Camden Yards over 4 appearances, including 2 starts.
The Orioles will counter with RHP Mike Wright, he of the “He gets too much credit” quote when questioned about Encarnacion. Wright is off to a rocky start himself with a (3-3, 5.31 ERA, 1.475 WHIP, 6.3 K/9) record in 2016.
His last game against Toronto came over the series last weekend where he put up 5.0 IP, 6H, 4ER and is (0-1, 5.73 ERA, 1.818 WHIP, 5.7 K/9) over 2 starts against the Blue Jays this season.
Over his career Wright owns a less than stellar (0-3, 7.13 ERA, 2.208 WHIP, 6.1 K/9) record when opposing Toronto.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: For the sake of poetic justice, I am picking Edwin Encarnacion as the player to watch. Not only is the 1B/DH incredibly hot at the moment, but the comments from Wright last weekend may add a little extra incentive to EE’s game tonight.
Orioles: The Orioles slugging first baseman Chris Davis has given Sanchez fits as can be attested by his 600/692/1.600 slash line and 3 HR over 10 AB. It is a rather small sample but it definitely a sign that he sees the ball well off the RHP.
First Pitch – 4:05 EST
R. Dickey RHP (2016: 4-7, 4.16 ERA) vs. Y. Gallardo RHP (2016: 1-1, 7.00 ERA)
Saturday’s game will see R.A. Dickey take the ball for the Blue Jays. Dickey has been very solid for Toronto over the last month and his (4-7, 4.16 ERA, 1.316 WHIP, 6.1 K/9) record reflects that after his rocky start.
The knuckle baller owns a career record of (2-6, 3.97 ERA, 1.163 WHIP, 7.1 K/9) against the Orioles, which includes a 6 IP, 5H, 3ER performance in April.
Dickey has pitched well over his career in Camden Yards (1-3, 3.32 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 6.2 K/9) over 7 appearances, including 6 starts.
Baltimore will welcome back from the disabled list, their off-season free agent acquisition Yovani Gallardo to make the start on Saturday. Gallardo (1-1, 7.00 ERA, 1.667 WHIP, 4.5 K/9) had only made 4 starts in 2016 before going down with shoulder tendinitis.
Over his career the former Milwaukee Brewer and Texas Ranger has been tough against the Blue Jays as his (3-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.984 WHIP, 5.8 K/9) record can attest.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: Surprisingly Gallardo has never faced Michael Saunders during his career. While other Jays have had some success off the RHP, Saunders is the bat that I am looking to during this game. If he is successful at the plate he could be the difference maker in this game.
Orioles: The soon to be suspended Manny Machado has hit .368 off Dickey over 19 ABs in his career. It will be important for Dickey to keep him doing damage and extending innings for the lethal Baltimore lineup.
First Pitch – 1:35 EST
M. Stroman RHP (2016: 6-2, 4.76 ERA) vs. TBA RHP (2016: 0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Toronto will give Marcus Stroman the ball for the last game of the three game set on Sunday. Stroman (6-2, 4.76 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 6.1 K/9) has struggled of late but, did put up a nice start facing the Phillies this week. Though his last start of 5 IP, 8H, 4ER against the Orioles left a little to be desired.
Over his career he owns a (2-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 5.9 K/9) over his career against Baltimore, which includes a (1-0, 5.11 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, 3.6 K/9) over 2 starts in 2016.
The New York native has pitched well in his 3 career starts (2-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.190 WHIP, 6.0 K/9) in Camden Yards.
As of time of publication the Orioles have yet to announce a SP for the game on Sunday. It is, however, scheduled to be Chris Tillman‘s start. Since Tillman’s season is off to a stellar beginning (9-1, 2.87 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 8.7 K/9) it is hard to imagine them skipping him in a series as important as this one.
Tillman has not fared well against Toronto over his career (4-10, 5.65 ERA, 1.372 WHIP, 6.3 K/9) which includes a no decision start of 6 IP, 4H, 2 ER against the Blue Jays back in April.
The RHP has been perfect at home (6-0, 2.39 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 9.7 K/9) in Camden Yards this season.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: Stroman will be the player to watch in this game. The Blue Jays will go as far in this game as he can carry them. If he can post at least a quality start of 6 IP, 3ER, they will be in good shape.
Orioles: Baltimore’s Adam Jones is the player to watch for the Orioles this game. The center fielder is hitting 348/375/913 with 4 HR over his last 5 games, and has 4 hits in 8 AB against Stroman.
This series will be just as intense as the four game series in Toronto last weekend. These two teams do not particularly care for each other, and the battle for the division is only going to amp up the emotion. Toronto will have a great chance to get the first two games of the series should the bats keep rolling and Sanchez and Dickey can minimize any damage from the potent Orioles lineup.
The final game is hard to pinpoint. With Tillman throwing extremely well and Stroman struggling to regain his form it is really a toss-up. Something tells me Toronto will need to slug this one out to have a chance.
One thing that is for certain is the Blue Jays will need to have the lead heading into the 8th inning or beyond or else they will have to deal with Orioles close Zach Britton. The LH reliever is as good as any closer in the game now, and attempting a comeback when he is on the mound is a battle in futility.
*All Pitcher vs Batter Stats provided by ESPN (click on image to see original)
**Featured Image Credit: dannebrog (Flickr)- UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.