The Toronto Blue Jays will, for the first time this season, play baseball outdoors. Join us here at Jays From the Couch as we breakdown the four game wrap-around series in Boston.
— MLB (@MLB) April 15, 2016
The Blue Jays will be in Boston this weekend to play a four game series against the Red Sox. This series is a wrap-around series that opens up on Jackie Robinson Day and culminates in a 11:05 AM game on Monday, Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts. Be sure to make note of the odd starting times (Friday 7:10PM, Saturday 4:05PM, Sunday 1:35PM, and Monday 11:05AM) this weekend if you do not wish to miss any of the action.
Toronto won the season series at Fenway in 2015 5-4, while averaging 6.77 R/G. In the typical “No lead at Fenway is safe” fashion the Blue Jays also surrendered 6.55 R/G in nine contests. With both teams tallying double-digit runs in three games each.
With the Blue Jays offense seeming to work its way out of the early season funk they found themselves in, this series promises to be as fun and infuriating as all series’ tend to be in Boston.
First Pitch – 7:10 EST
R. Dickey RHP (2016: 1-1, 8.10 ERA) vs. R. Porcello RHP (2016: 1-0, 6.00 ERA)
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will take the mound in the opener hoping to redeem himself from the awful start against Boston last week in Toronto. Dickey has managed only 5 innings per start in his two games this season, and will be looking to get deeper into the game tonight.
During his career, the Tennessee native is (6-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.300 WHIP, 7.1 K/9) against the Red Sox, with a slightly better (2-2, 3.99 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) record at Fenway Park.
Boston will counter with the beleaguered Rick Porcello who, like Dickey, will be facing the same lineup for his second straight start. The New Jersey native earned a win despite giving up four earned runs over six innings, including two Joey Bats home runs.
Porcello has compiled a career record of (5-7, 5.35 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, 4.9 K/9) against the Blue Jays. He has fared better at home (7-8, 4.65 ERA, 1.325 WHIP, 7.9 K/9) in Fenway, but not much.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: After a two for three, two home run, four RBI game against Porcello last week, Jose Bautista upped his career average to .464/.545/.786 when facing the Boston hurler. The Dominican native has also compiled an impressive .278/.367/.598 slash line at Fenway Park, with twenty-one (21) home runs, and forty-eight (48) runs batted in, over fifty-six (56) career games. With his bat heating up, there should be no reason to doubt he will have himself another big night.
Red Sox: In their previous match-up the entire Red Sox lineup did their part against Dickey. Being patient and lacing balls down the lines was very impressive, despite the nine (9) strikeouts over his five innings. It will be interesting to watch if they keep the same successful approach.
Outlook: Outside of saying it could be a typical Toronto- Boston slug-fest at Fenway this is a hard game to project. Considering the teams combined for one-hundred and twenty runs (13.3 per/game) over nine games in 2015, and the two pitchers on the mound, we could be in for more of the same.
First Pitch – 4:05 EST
M. Estrada RHP (2016: 1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. D. Price LHP (2016: 1-0, 5.76 ERA)
After a stellar performance in his return to action on April 10th, Marco Estrada will be taking the mound for his second consecutive start against Boston on Saturday.
The Mexican native will be looking to continue his success against the Red Sox against whom he has totaled a (3-2, 3.67 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 7.3 K/9) over his career.
Estrada also carries with him a (2-1, 4.58 ERA, 1.415 WHIP, 6.6 K/9) record a Fenway Park over five appearances, including two starts.
Boston’s new free agent signing (7 years/$217MM) David Price will be facing the Blue Jays for the first time since he helped them to an American League East title in 2015. The start to this season hasn’t been overly friendly to Price, as he has surrendered seven earned runs over eleven innings pitched despite tallying eightteen strikeouts over that time for a 14.7 K/9 average.
Over his career, the Tennessee native has dominated the Blue Jays organization to the tune of a (16-2, 2.41 ERA, 1.064 WHIP, 7.8 K/9) record over eight seasons.
Price has also been excellent at Fenway with a career (6-1, 2.39 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, 7.7 K/9) record over twelve starts.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: Two Blue Jays players come to mind for this game. Bautista has been incredibly successful when facing Price over his career slashing .327/.414/.694 with five (5) home runs with eleven (11) runs batted in over forty-nine at-bats. The second Josh Donaldson comes to mind because of his “Imma get mine” comments to Price, which he made available during an interview this spring. He hasn’t been great over his career, slashing .222/.222/.444 without a home run, but it should still make for great theater.
Red Sox: Despite being stymied is his last start, Ortiz, has put together an impressive resume against Estrada. With a career slash line of .250/.357/.750 with two (2) home runs and four (4) runs batted in. The chess match between the two will make for an interesting watch.
Outlook: Considering the two starters on the mound, all signs point to this being a low scoring affair.
First Pitch – 1:35 EST
A. Sanchez RHP (2016: 0-0, 1.38 ERA) vs. S. Wright RHP (2016: 0-1, 1.35 ERA)
The Blue Jays will send the electric arm of Aaron Sanchez to the mound on Sunday afternoon to make his third start of the season. Sanchez is coming off two very good to excellent starts the past two weeks and will be looking to build off those as he toes the rubber at Fenway.
The California native has ten career (2-1, 2.75 ERA, 1.271 WHIP, 7.8 K/9) appearances against Boston including two starts last season, with him winning one.
In Fenway, Sanchez, has made one start in his four appearances (1-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 9.0 K/9) over his career. He may be the one pitcher in the league who can almost take the green monster completely out of play, as he has never surrendered a home run to a right-handed hitter in his short career.
The second time in as many starts Boston will send Steven Wright to the mound hoping can once again stymie the vaunted Blue Jays lineup.
His one career start against Toronto came last week when Wright came away with a win after pitching (6.2, 6H, 2ER, 5K) at Rogers Centre.
During his career, the California native has been excellent at home in Fenway Park. Over five career starts he has put up a respectable (4-2, 3.26 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 7.4 K/9) record, and will hope be tough again on this night.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: As with his last two starts, all eyes should be on Sanchez. There is always that chance that he loses his control and has a bad one, and then again he could be completely dominant. The young flamethrower is special, and considered must watch TV.
Red Sox: Boston’s right-fielder Mookie Betts will be one to watch in this game. While the sample is short (6PAs) he has two hits and a walk off Sanchez. Betts can be a disruptive force on the bases, so it will be beneficial to keep him making right turns.
Outlook: As unpredictable as the knuckleball can be, it’s difficult to be fully confident that the Jays lineup will figure out Wright early in this game. However, I do have an inkling they will roll over Boston’s starter early and often in this one.
First Pitch – 11:05 EST
J. Happ LHP (2016: 1-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. C. Buchholz RHP (2016: 0-1, 10.00 ERA)
Lefty J.A. Happ will make his third start of the season on Patriot’s Day in Boston. Happ has been hard to get a finger on so far this season, but his results have been solid. He will need to continue his ability to walk the tight rope in this game as the Red Sox lineup is an unforgiving one, and will give him some trouble if he falls behind in counts early.
The former Northwestern University player has, like most of his career, been decent (3-3, 4.15 ERA, 1.481 WHIP, 6.9 K/9) when facing Boston.
At Fenway, Happ, has fared a little worse than his (1-1, 6.17 ERA, 1.629 ERA, 8.5 K/9) career numbers as a whole. This will, however, be his first visit since his change in approach, so it remains to be seen if he will handle the park better than he has in the past.
Boston’s Clay Buchholz will make his third start of 2016, which has not been kind to the right-hander, and his first against Toronto in this game.
During his career Buchholz has been excellent (13-9, 3.40 ERA, 1.231 WHIP, 6.4 K/9) against Toronto, however, the last two seasons (4-4, 5.24 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, 5.7 K/9) have been a struggle, and are more on par with his overall production of late.
Over his career the Texas native has been solid (33-27, 3.98 ERA, 10343 WHIP, 7.2 K/9) at home in Fenway. But, as with his recent number against Toronto, Buchholz, has been terrible in Boston (6-13, 5.42 ERA, 1.465 WHIP, 7.7 K/9) over the last three seasons.
Player(s) to Watch:
Blue Jays: Catcher Russell Martin has hit well not only hit well (.286/.318/.857) with four home runs and seven runs batted in against Buchholz, but he seems to like hitting Boston in general where he has put up a career slash line of .353/.347/.494 with four home runs and eightteen runs batted in over twenty-four games. If there were ever a game where Martin could breakout, this would be the one.
Red Sox: Keep an eye on Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts in this game. With his ability to take the ball to right-field he could pose some problems for Happ.
Outlook: Taking recent history into consideration this game could be a wild, high scoring affair.
*Feature Image Credit: Deb (Flikr) 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.