Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (May 27, 2018 – Source: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images North America)
The Boston Red Sox are on an absolute tear, winning their past nine games while posting a league-best 65-29 record. The Toronto Blue Jays, meanwhile, sit as a much more pedestrian 42-49 record. Despite their sub-.500 mark, the Blue Jays always manage to give the Red Sox a run for their money. Without further ado, here is the Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays series preview.
A Familiar Foe: Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays Series Preview
A large reason for the Blue Jays disappointing season stems from the absence of star third baseman Josh Donaldson. The longtime Blue Jay has played in just 38 games this season, and a calf injury will sideline him for the duration of the upcoming series.
In his absence, the Blue Jays best hitter has probably been first baseman Justin Smoak. Smoak is a consistently good-but-not-great player, and he’s having a normal year by his career standards. Through 83 games, Smoak is hitting .241/.362/.458 with a 125 wRC+. While it’s nothing exceptional, he’s still a solid threat in the Blue Jays lineup.
Toronto also boasts a solid outfield trio of Curtis Granderson, Kevin Pillar, and Teoscar Hernandez. While Pillar isn’t much of an offensive threat, Granderson and Hernandez are two of the better bats in the Blue Jays lineup.
Hernandez currently owns a .502 slugging percentage, good for the highest on the Blue Jays (min. 70 games played). The rest of his numbers are pretty strong, as he has a .256 average, 13 home runs, and a 117 wRC+.
Likewise, former New York Yankee Curtis Granderson is having a similar season. His slash line currently sits at .244/.353/.446 with a 122 wRC+. While this trio certainly isn’t the most formidable unit in the league, each player is certainly capable of putting some damage on the ball.
Game One: J.A. Happ vs David Price
J.A. Happ is one of the hottest names on the trade market, so there is a chance he won’t be a Blue Jay by Game Two. However, if he is still around, the Red Sox should have no trouble scoring a few runs against the lefty.
Happ currently owns an unremarkable 4.44 ERA and a 3.97 FIP. While the Red Sox have struggled against lefties all season long, they have been considerably better of late. As a team, the Sox currently own a .256/.317/.413 slash line against left-handed pitching. While they’re still better against righties, the addition of Steve Pearce has made a big impact on the Red Sox lineup.
Of course, Boston Red Sox starter David Price is in the midst of some struggles of his own. After giving up five home runs to the New York Yankees, Price allowed four runs in 4.2 innings against the lowly Kansas City Royals. While both outings were poor, it’s just a two-game sample size. Price has, more often than not, been a really good pitcher for the Red Sox. Expect a bounce back start in the series opener.
Game Two: Ryan Borucki vs Rick Porcello
The Red Sox are in for a surprise in Game Three when they face the 24-year old Ryan Borucki. Entering the season 8th in the Blue Jays stacked farm, Borucki has just three professional starts in his major league career. While it’s certainly a small sample size, the young lefty has impressed during his time in the majors.
Through 20 innings, Borucki currently owns a 2.25 ERA, 2.43 FIP, and a 1.25 WHIP. Quite frankly, he’s been everything the Blue Jays could’ve hoped for. He hasn’t faced weak teams, either. Borucki made his career debut against the Houston Astros, pitching six innings of two-run ball. Most recently, Borucki held the New York Yankees to just one run in seven innings of play. Right now, this kid looks like the real deal.
Rick Porcello, meanwhile, has been his consistent, reliable self. Porcello currently owns a 3.58 ERA and a 3.48 FIP. He’s great in that you know what you’ll get from him every single start, and he’ll always give the Sox a chance to win. Expect that trend to continue against Toronto.
Game Three: ??? vs Eduardo Rodriguez
This game is a little hard to predict, as the Toronto Blue Jays have not officially named a starter. However, the Blue Jays currently don’t have ideal pitching depth, so the Red Sox should be able to tee off against whichever pitcher ends up starting Game Three.
Regardless of who the Blue Jays send out, the Red Sox have to feel good about sending out Eduardo Rodriguez. By now, everyone knows that Eddie struggles going deep into games. However, Rodriguez is fantastic at keeping runs off the board and giving his team the chance to win. Through 18 starts, Rodriguez owns a 3.72 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. This should be the most interesting game of the series, and should go down to the wire.
Game Four: Marcus Stroman vs. TBD
For the final game of this series, the Red Sox will throw out the mysterious “to be determined” to face Marcus Stroman. Hector Velazquez got the start in this spot the last time through the rotation, however, it appears Brian Johnson will be healthy enough to make this start. If not, it will likely be Velazquez again, as Drew Pomeranz is scheduled to make a rehab start on Sunday.
Assuming it will be Johnson, the lefty will make his third spot start in the past two weeks. In his last two starts (8 2/3 innings), he has only allowed three earned runs but has done virtually nothing in the strikeout department. The hope is he will be able to deliver another 4 innings of solid pitching and then the Sox will be able to turn it over to the bullpen.
Stroman has been surprisingly hittable this season, as his ERA is an unsightly 5.90. Granted, his underlying numbers do not look nearly as bad (4.28 FIP and 3.78 xFIP) and he did just semi-recently come of the disabled list. The Red Sox bats should not have too much trouble against the right-hander, despite the fact he is coming off his best start of the season against Atlanta. This very well could be a high-scoring game and should be another interesting one to watch.
The first and third games of the series should be relatively uneventful. While Price has struggled in his two most recent outings, there’s more than enough reason to believe he’ll bounce back sooner rather than later. Even if he doesn’t, the Sox offense is more than capable of winning in a shootout.
If the Red Sox are going to lose, it will probably happen in Game Two or Game Four. Borucki has been fantastic in his young MLB career, and the Sox can’t possibly sweep four straight series, right? While a sweep is completely possible, it seems unlikely. Expect the Sox to take three of four before heading into the All-Star break.