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Photo Credit: © Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox @ Blue Jays Series Preview: A Rookie, A Struggling Rick Porcello, And, Oh God, Oh Man, Chris Sale

I think we all needed that off day. The players who forgot how to bat needed it. John Gibbons, who looked like he aged a decade last weekend, needed it. But most of all, the fans needed it. It’s been a rough start to the season, and it isn’t getting any easier. The Jays will play three games at home this week against the Red Sox who, after coming out of the gate slowly due to a flu bug, seem to be hitting their stride.

Tuesday at 7:07 ET

Marcus Stroman has been excellent so far this season. He earned the win in the Blue Jays’ first win of the season back in Tampa Bay, and should have had another one last week as he tossed a complete game, two-run loss against the Brewers. A key to Stroman’s success early in the season has been his ability to locate his sinker low in the zone, consistently resulting in batters hitting weak ground balls around the infield. For his career, Stroman has a 4.40 ERA and a 0.717 opponents OPS against the Red Sox, but if he’s able to paint the bottom of the zone like he has been so far this year, he’ll be successful.

Going for the Red Sox will be 2012 first round draft pick Brian Johnson, making his first big league start since his lone career go back in 2015. So far for Triple-A Pawtucket this season , Johnson has made two starts, tossing 10 2/3 innings while allowing just two runs while striking out 15. According to scouting reports I’ve seen, Johnson doesn’t have dominant stuff, featuring a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but has good command and is poised on the mound. He’s compared to Mark Buehrle, being a guy who doesn’t overpower you, but is deceptively effective.

Sounds like somebody who’ll look like a Cy Young winner against the early 2017 Blue Jays. All jokes aside, holy shit, this is one of those matchups that the Blue Jays really, really ned to start winning. Even though Josh Donaldson isn’t in the lineup, this is a team built to kill lefties, and a soft tosser like Johnson really should be the kind of pitcher the Jays have a good time with.

Wednesday at 7:07 ET

Francisco Liriano has had one very bad start and one very good start this season. Which Francisco are we going to get on Wednesday? That’s anybody guess! I would imagine we’re more likely to see the Liriano we got last weekend against the Orioles, the one who struck out 10 batters over six-and-two-thirds innings while allowing just two runs. Liriano hasn’t faced Boston since being acquired by the Blue Jays last July, so nobody on the Red Sox has any experience worth mentioning against him. Though, this Red Sox lineup, specifically Hanley Ramirez, Chris Young, Zander Bogaerts, and Sandy Leon, mash the crap out of left-handed pitching.

Rick Porcello has looked a lot more like Rick Porcello so far this season. Last year, Porcello was excellent, and was awarded the American League Cy Young award, which isn’t something anybody realistically would have expected to happen before the season started. But anyways, it seems the Porcello we know and love is back. Through three starts, Porcello has a 7.56 ERA, allowing 14 runs on 25 hits over 16 2/3 innings pitched. Is he mediocre again? Was last season a bunch of bullshit? I don’t know! But in the past, the Jays have had a great time with Porcello, as he own a 5.03 career ERA and 0.753 opponent OPS against Toronto. But those stats are from before the Jays randomly forgot how to hit.

Thursday at 12:37 ET

Chris Sale in a Red Sox uniform. It’s awful. It’s terrible. It’s unfortunate. We’re going to see it live for the first time on Thursday afternoon. Or not. Maybe go to work that day and don’t pay attention to the game, because this could be ugly. Chris Sale is good. Very good. Amazing, really. And the way the Jays are going right now, he’s going to throw a 27-strikeout perfect game. That’s a hyperbole, obviously, but fuck, if this lineup looked hopeless against *checks this weekend’s box scores* Alec Asher and uhhhhhhh Wily Peralta, it’s going to be a horror movie against Sale. In Sale’s first season with his new Sox, Sale has allowed only three earned runs over 21 2/3 innings. He’s held opponents to just 11 hits and five walks, and he’s struck out a league-leading 29 batters. My god. Help us lord.

The Jays will counter Sale with an ace of their own — ACEstrada. Estrada was somewhat shaky in his first couple of starts, but completely dominated the Orioles last weekend, helping the Jays to their second win of the season. Estrada tossed seven masterful innings, completely shutting Baltimore down. He didn’t get the win because Roberto Osuna blew the save, but that’s the kind of performance the Blue Jays are going to need in order to squeak out a win against the always-dominant Sale and Boston.

What we have here is a game the Jays should win, a toss-up, and one that favours Boston. So let’s win the first two games against the rookie and the guy who’s struggling, please. That way we can phone in sick to work and just enjoy watching Chris Sale be good without having to worry about how many teams have recovered from a 2-13 start to make the playoffs.