The Toronto Blue Jays head west to take on the hard-hitting Colorado Rockies at Coors Field for a three game series.
The Toronto Blue Jays (41-36) will be looking to improve on their 7-5 inter-league record when they take on the, Colorado Rockies (36-39) this series. Colorado is 4-6 over their last 10 games, and have a 4-3 record in inter-league play in 2016. Toronto has faltered of late and are 5-5 over their last 10, and are in need of a strong series to help them stay within striking distance of the A.L. East division lead.
COL- (Starters) 5.23 ERA, 1.468 WHIP, 1.12 HR/9, 7.2 K/9, .283/.348/.448
TOR – (Starters) 3.82 ERA, 1.240 WHIP, 1.12 HR/9, 7.1 K/9, .238/.304/.401
COL – (Relievers) 4.80 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, 1.20 HR/9, 7.8 K/9, .270/.330/.456
TOR – (Relievers) 4.13 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 1.30 HR/9, 9.0 K/9, .261/.321/.429
Colorado – R/G 5.29 – .275/.338/.470 – 282 XBH – 7.96 K/G
Toronto – R/G 4.66 – .245/.326/.433 – 256 XBH – 8.12 K/G
History: 15 games, dating back to 2002. Toronto owns the all-time series at 9-6. The amazing part is each team has held serve in their own ballparks with the Blue Jays 9-0 at the Rogers Centre, and perhaps more importantly for this series, the Rockies are 6-0 at Coors Field with Toronto in town.
First Pitch – 8:40 EST
M. Estrada RHP (2016: 5-3, 2.70 ERA) vs. J. Gray RHP (2016: 4-3, 4.80 ERA)
Toronto’s record setting pitcher, Marco Estrada will take the ball Monday night to open up the three game series. Estrada (5-3, 2.70 ERA, 1.393 WHIP, 8.1 K/9) this season has been very solid, and will be looking to extend his MLB record of starts with 6IP or more with 5 or fewer hits.
The crafty right-hander has not had a lot of success against the Rockies over his career (1-0, 6.27 ERA, 1.393 WHIP, 14.5 K/9) over 5 appearances, including 3 starts. This also included a (1-0, 9.39 ERA, 1.696 WHIP, 12.9 K/9) in 2 appearance, 1 start at Coors Field. It should be noted that all appearances against the Colorado came in 2014 or before.
The young hard throwing Jon Gray will take the ball against the Blue Jays to counter Estrada. Gray (4-3, 4.80 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 9.7 K/9) has never faced the Blue Jays in his short career.
The former Oklahoma Sooner is (2-0, 5.02 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 9.7 K/9) at home this season, and has pitched well over his last 4 starts (1-1, 3.38 ERA) with a 207/278/356 opponent slash.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: The player to watch for Toronto will be Josh Donaldson. The slugging third-baseman does not have any ABs against the Rockies starter, but he is definitely the type of hitter who is not bothered by the lack of scouting reports.
Rockies: Colorado’s LHH right-fielder Carlo Gonzalez is scorching the ball the last 2 weeks with a slash line of 408/442/673, and if his 317/362/561 with 16 HR this season isn’t quite convincing enough, his 343/394/483 when facing RHP in 2016 should be. He is the hitter in this lineup who you do not want to beat you.
First Pitch – 8:40 EST
J. Happ LHP (2016: 9-3, 3.42 ERA) vs. E. Butler RHP (2016: 2-4, 6.71 ERA)
Veteran LHP J.A. Happ will be given the ball on Tuesday in Denver to face the Rockies. Happ (9-3, 3.42 ERA, 1.194 WHIP, 6.3 K/9) has continued to prove his worth this season.
Over his career, Happ, has been very good (3-0, 2.36 ERA, 1.049 WHIP, 7.9 K/9) against the high-flying Rockies offense, which includes a (1-0, 3.52 ERA, 1.174 WHIP, 10.6 K/9) record at Coors Field.
The Rockies will counter with RHP Eddie Butler for the second game of the series. Butler’s (2-4, 6.71 ERA, 1.529 WHIP, 6.0 K/9) record in 2016 leaves very little to be desired.
The former Radford University player has, in fact, be down right awful this season. His last 4 starts have seen him yield a 427/478/793 opponents slash line.
Butler is also (1-1, 9.70 ERA, 1.969 WHIP, 7.6 K/9) at home in Colorado this season.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion is the player to watch in this game. The 1B/DH has cooled somewhat over the last week, however, with him more than likely playing 1B for the series, I would look for him to come up big. Especially with Butler on the mound.
Rockies: Keep and eye out for rookie sensation Trevor Story in this game. Story is hitting 271/339/559 in 2016, and has been on fire over the past 2 weeks with a slash of 333/480/667. He is also hitting 272/372/506 against LHP, though his K rate of 38% against south paws does show some holes.
First Pitch – 3:10 EST
A. Sanchez RHP (2016: 7-1, 3.33 ERA) vs. T. Anderson LHP (2016: 0-1, 2.55 ERA)
The last game of the series will see Aaron Sanchez take the mound for the Blue Jays. Sanchez (7-1, 3.33 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 8.6 K/9) while getting closer to his team imposed innings limits as a SP has continued to prove that he wants to stay in the rotation.
The California native is (5-0, 2.48 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 8.9 K/9) on the road this season, with a (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 6.4 K/9) over one start in inter-league play in 2016.
The Rockies will turn to young LHP Tyler Anderson to counter Sanchez. Anderson who is a rookie with only 3 starts under his belt (0-1, 2.55 ERA, 1.189 WHIP, 9.2 K/9) has held his own thus far.
Over his 3 starts he has not surrendered a home run to this point, but has also averaged slightly bellow 6 IP per start. Which is pretty decent for a rookies, but it does show he has been handled carefully thus far.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: The player to watch in this game will be the starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez. The thin air in Coors Field could/should give him some issues with his curve ball. It will be important for him to keep this pitch down in the zone, or he will be forced to go mainly with is fastball for the duration. He’s done it before, but it is not ideal.
Rockies: The Rockies rookie pitcher Tyler Anderson will need to come up big and will be the player to watch in this game for Colorado. He has yet to face a lineup as deep as the Blue Jays in his short career, and it will be interesting how he reacts.
This series, as all series, in Colorado are tough to breakdown. The Rockies pitching staff has been hit hard this season, just like most season, but they have hung around enough to give their team a chance. If the Blue Jays are looking win this series, which they will need to do, the bullpen’s success will be vital. Most games at Coors Field can turn into slug fests in a hurry, so it will be important for the pen to provide shutdown innings late in games to help keep any lead the offense should give them.
*All Pitcher vs Batter Stats provided by ESPN (click on image to see original)
**Featured Image Credit: Al Case- 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.