Winners of 11 of their past 13 contests, the current Beasts of the East role into Comerica for a three game tilt with the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. The Blue Jays will send Drew Hutchison to the mound in game one to duel the Tiger’s Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez, who paced the AL in ERA a year ago, enters tonight’s contest with a 2-2 record and a 2.49 ERA over 43.1 innings this season.
The reason for Sanchez’s low innings thus far was due to a blister issue on his throwing hand that forced him to the DL. Interestingly enough, Sanchez enters Tuesday’s contest against the Blue Jays having yet to yield a single long ball on the season. One has to wonder if that will streak will continue against the Blue Jays formidable offense, an offense that currently leads the MLB in HR and is 2nd in RBI, OBP and SLG.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Jays after Tuesdays showing against Anibal Sanchez as they will go onto face both Rick Porcello and the imposing Justin Verlander. Not only is Verlander still considered among the top pitchers in the game but he also has no-hit the Blue Jays once in his career. Verlander is one of those rare pitchers who has the ability to no-hit any lineup when he is on. For our sake, let’s hope he has a bit of an off day.
The Blue Jays will need those bats to stay hot. Not just through the series with the Tigers but also for the weekend series against the Cardinals. Luckily for the Jays they will miss the Cardinals dangerous duo of Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha. That being said, neither Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller nor Jaime Garcia (Cardinals probables for TO series) should be considered slouches. In fact any one of them would EASILY be considered the Blue Jays 2nd best starter.
These next two series are hardly “make or break” for the Jays. The fact that they currently sit atop the AL East is a feat in itself; especially considering that most people had them written off (myself included) before the start of the season. However, the Blue Jays could use these next two series to make statements to the baseball world that they are in fact for real.
Clearly back to back sweeps or even series wins would be what we are ALL hoping for. But even if they lose one or both of the series’ and have strong showings, that is still a moral victory that you can build off of. It will be interesting to see what does happen if the Blue Jays do in fact win both of these series. Will that be enough to show the Blue Jays front office and GM Alex Anthopolous that this could indeed be the year to go “all in” and perhaps make the deal to solidify their starting rotation? Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun tweeted earlier today that trade talks were “heating up” between the Blue Jays and the Chicago Cubs in regards to Jeff Samardzjia.
One would have to think that a potential rotation of Buehrle, Dickey, Sarardzjia, Hutchison and one of Happ or Stroman, looks pretty damn good entering the 100 game remaining mark. But first, the Blue Jays have to worry about the task at hand; getting through the Tigers and Cardinals.
Pitching match ups for the next two series:
Tuesday, June 3rd: Hutchison (4-3) vs. Sanchez (2-2)
Wednesday, June 4th: Dickey (5-4) vs. Porcello (8-2)
Thursday, June 5th: Happ (4-2) vs. Verlander (6-4)
Friday, June 6th: Lynn (6-3) vs. Stroman (2-0)
Saturday, June 7th: Miller (6-5) vs. Buehrle (10-1)
Sunday, June 8th: Garcia (1-0) vs. Hutchison (4-3)