The Toronto Blue Jays come home to Rogers Centre on Sunday with a 2-0 series lead, and a chance to advance to the ALCS.
With the Blue Jays going into the heart of Texas and taking it to the Rangers over the first two games, they are now coming home with a chance to clinch the series.
Toronto’s offense showed up at Globe Life Park outscoring the Rangers 15-4 over the first two games. Which is more impressive when you consider they took the lumber to Texas’ two best starters in Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. The series is by no means over, however, with a 2-0 series lead, and having Sanchez and Stroman (if needed) lined up for the games three and four, they are in an excellent position.
Of course, the downside of the 2-0 series lead, is Toronto losing Francisco Liriano and Devon Travis, respectively, for unknown amounts of time. As reported, Liriano was diagnosed with a mild concussion, after taking a line drive in the back of the head on Friday. This is excellent news, however, it does put him on the disabled list for at least a week, as per MLB rules. Reliever Danny Barnes was selected to replace Liriano while he patiently waits out any lingering issues from his injury.
Travis on the other hand received an MRI on his sore knee, and will probably miss Sunday’s tilt after a cortisone injection. The good news, with only a bone bruise and no structural damage, he could be ready to go in a few days.
First Pitch – 7:30 EST
A. Sanchez RHP (2016: 15-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. C. Lewis RHP (2016: 6-5, 3.71 ERA)
The Blue Jays will send staff ace Aaron Sanchez to the mound for Game 3 of the ALDS. Sanchez put together a remarkable first season as a starter with a (15-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 7.5 K/9) record.
Against Texas over his career he has managed a (0-0, 5.79 ERA, 1.429 WHIP, 7.1 K/9) record, including a (0-0, 5.93 ERA, 1.463 WHIP, 7.2 K/9) over 2 starts this season. It should be noted that his high ERA can be attributed to one bad start in Texas. He pitched an excellent 7.0 IP, 7H, 2 ER game at home versus the Rangers early in May.
Sanchez is (6-1, 3.74 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 7.6 K/9) at home in the Rogers Centre this season.
The California native has put together an impressive postseason record of (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.227 WHIP, 7.4 K/9) in his short career. With all his appearances coming in relief during Toronto’s 2015 run.
The Rangers will counter with staff veteran Colby Lewis as their game 3 starter. Lewis finished up the season with an overall record of (6-5, 3.71 ERA, 1.126 WHIP, 5.6 K/9), however, note that he produced the majority of his numbers before getting injured before the break. Since his return in September the right-hander went 0-4, with a 6.38 ERA over his 4 starts.
Over his career he has been touched up by Toronto to the tune of a (3-6, 6.17 ERA, 1.477 WHIP, 8.1 K/9) record, including a (0-0, 3.21 ERA, 0.714 WHIP, 8.4 K/9) over 2 starts this season.
Lewis has a (4-2, 2.75 ERA, 0.934 WHIP, 5.8 K/9) away from Globe Life Park this season. With a career record of (2-3, 5.81 ERA, 1.516 WHIP, 9.6 K/9) at the Rogers Centre over his career.
The wily veteran has an impressive postseason record of (4-1, 2.38 ERA, 1.132 WHIP, 7.6 K/9), which includes a 3 IP, 3H, ER appearance against the Blue Jays in 2015.
Toronto’s and Texas’ respective offenses were remarkably similar this season, with only 6 runs scored separating the two teams after 162 games. With the noticeable difference being the home and road splits for both teams, which could be something to watch throughout the series.
Toronto – R/G 4.70 – .248/.330/.426 – 515 XBH – 8.4 K/G
Texas – R/G 4.72 – .262/.322/.433 – 495 XBH – 7.5 K/G
The Blue Jays have hit .236/.318/.418, scoring 4.42 R/G on the road, while slashing .260/.341/.444 and 4.95 R/G at the Rogers Centre this season.
The Rangers have hit .279/.344/.453, scoring 5.2 R/G at Globe Life Park, while slashing .245/.299/.414 and 4.20 R/G on the road.
TOR – (Relievers) 4.11 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 3.47 SO/W, .254/.314/.420
TEX – (Relievers) 4.40 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2.23 SO/W, .261/.329/.418
*All Pitcher vs Batter Stats provided by ESPN
**Featured Image Credit: Blue Jays (Twitter) – 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.