Photo Credit: © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: The Return of Edwin

Are you ready for this? Edwin Encarnacion will be playing baseball at Rogers Centre for a different team. It’s going to be hard to watch. But you know what would be an excellent remedy? Kicking the shit out of Trevor Bauer.

Monday at 7:07 ET

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Marcus Stroman left last Wednesday’s game against the Yankees with an arm injury, specifically discomfort in his armpit, but will apparently make his scheduled start Monday. He only lasted three innings in the Yankees game, allowing five earned runs, but in Stroman’s previous two starts before that, he was excellent, picking up a complete game win over the Angels and shutting the Rays down over seven-and-one-third. Obviously the concern right now for Stroman is the severity of his injury, because right now, the Jays really reaaaaaally can’t afford to have another starting pitcher go down.

Going for Cleveland will be the team’s resident jackass Trevor Bauer, who is the type of dude to bait people by saying stupid things on Twitter and then get mad when his mentions are flooded because of it. And, ya know, do shit like this. I mean, that’s fine and all, taunting is, in my opinion, a worthwhile part of the game, but it works a lot better when you’re actually good. Bauer, who has clearly spent too much time dicking around with his drones this season, owns a 7.67 earned run average through five starts. He’s getting a lot of strikeouts, but his command has been poor and he’s been tagged by the long ball, which is a great combination if you want to be bad!

Tuesday at 7:07 ET

It says TBD because they haven’t officially made the roster transaction yet, but Mike Bolsinger will make his first start as a Blue Jay on Tuesday in what would have been Mat Latos’ spot. Bolsinger was acquired from the Blue Jays last summer in a deal for Jesse Chavez, and was expected to crack the team as a long reliever out of camp, but didn’t, cleared waivers, and has been pitching in Triple-A Buffalo all season. He’s made two starts and two appearances in relief, posting a 1.46 earned run average over 12 1/3 innings. Last year in the majors with the Dodgers, Bolsinger had a 6.83 ERA over 27 2/3 innings. Let’s hope this experiment goes better than the Latos one did. Though, if the Jays can get two good starts out of Bolsinger like they did Latos, I wouldn’t complain.

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It’ll be a bit of a mismatch on Tuesday, as Carlos Carrasco will go for Cleveland. He’s been the team’s best pitcher so far while the rest of the supposed-to-be-incredible rotation has struggled, surprisingly. Carrasco, though six starts, has a 2.18 earned run average, but is striking out fewer batters than ever before in his career, oddly enough. The one time he faced the Jays last season, Carrasco lit them up for 14 strikeouts over seven-and-one-third innings of work, so, uh, yeah.

Wednesday at 7:07 ET

Danny Salazar is one of the many Cleveland starters who’s had surprisingly poor results so far this season. His 4.28 ERA isn’t very inspiring, but unlike Carrasco, Salazar is striking everyone out. His issue seems to be command, which was also a problem last year, too. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, Salazar walked 2.6, 2.9, and 2.6 batter per nine innings. But in 2016 and 2017? He’s exploded to 4.1 and 4.3 walks per nine. The big issue has been his slider, which, in the past was a consistently effective pitch, but in 2017 has been thrown for a ball 60 per cent of the time. So here’s the plan: Lay off on the goddamn slider. Easier said than done, yes, but if you do, you’ll likely have success against Salazar.

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This could be a walk fest. Francisco Liriano will go for the Jays, and like Salazar, he struggles with command, and his success largely comes down to whether or not his slider is working. Liriano has been largely good this season, but has imploded on two separate occasions against the Rays in Tampa. Otherwise, though, he’s only allowed five earned runs over his other four starts.

Edwin’s return

Okay, so now that we’ve been through the housekeeping, we can get on to the important topic at hand — Edwin Encarnacion’s return to Toronto.

Edwin is one of the greatest ever Toronto Blue Jays, ranking 12th all-time in wins above replacement, third in home runs, sixth in runs batted in, and top-10 in virtually every offensive category imaginable. He’s been to hell and back with this organization, originally acquired as a spare part in the Scott Rolen trade, being given the infamous E5 nickname for his defensive shortcomings, getting claimed on waivers by the Oakland Athletics, but coming back to the Jays as a free agent weeks later before ultimately putting up six massive seasons at the plate and becoming a franchise icon. He went from being a bat-only scrub who struck out waaaaay too often and couldn’t play a lick of defence to the beloved slugger who pretended to carry a parrot around the bases whenever he clubbed a homer.

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On Oct. 14, 2016, he had his signature moment with the Blue Jays. Maybe you disagree and think it was the hat trick against Detroit back during summer 2015’s ridiculous run, but I feel Edwin’s walk-off blast in the Wild Card game truly is his legacy moment. All three of the legendary Blue Jay players from this era came up huge in a playoff game for the team. Jose Bautista had his against Sam Dyson the year before, then Josh Donaldson got his in the ALDS with the dash to the plate. Edwin’s walk-off is what summarizes his time here perfectly.

In Shi Davidi’s excellent article about Edwin’s former teammates speaking about his presence on the Jays, Kevin Pillar said: “I was close to the steps because I remember getting out of the dugout fairly quick and running out there. You think about Joe Carter, you think about Jose Bautista, Edwin’s got to be up there for one of the biggest homers in the history of the Blue Jays. That will be one of my fondest baseball memories, ever, him hitting the homer, Carrera being prepared and coming out with the parrot. It’s awesome.”

Anyways, damn, it’s going to be tough to see Edwin come up to bat for a different team this week. It’s already been difficult enough to see videos and photos online of his walking the parrot in Cleveland. But regardless, Edwin deserves a big standing ovation from the crowd for his time with the club, and I’m sure the fans at Rogers Centre will oblige.

  • The Humungus

    3 Things I want from Tonight’s game:

    1. Standing O for Edwin. Man tears.

    2. Boot fuck Trevor Bauer. Make it the shortest start of his goddamned career.

    3. Complete game shut-out from Stroman, with all the histrionics that make that vein in Zaun Cherry’s forehead throb. Because baseball is a game played by men, and should be treated as a game played by men, not serious business. Fuck Zaun.