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Series Preview: Trash Bird Weekend

The Trash Birds have been slumping as of late while the Blue Jays seem to be hitting their stride. Aaron Sanchez, Mike Bolsinger, and Marco Estrada will go up against Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Wade Miley, all of whom have had their struggles this season.

Friday at 7:05 ET

Both Aaron Sanchez and Chris Tillman have seen limited action this season. Sanchez had that aggressive blister on his finger that forced him to miss a few weeks, and immediately after returning, was sidelined again with a nail issue. Tillman, on the other hand, missed all of spring training and April due to a shoulder injury.

Tillman has made only two starts, and despite what his nice 2.89 earned run average would suggest, he hasn’t looked particularly sharp. His first outing against the White Sox was solid, as he went five innings without allowing a run, but his next time out in Kansas City was a disaster. He lasted only four-and-one-third innings, surrendering three runs on eight hits. The most alarming numbers for Tillman have been his 57% strike rate and his 42% line drive rate. So he’s struggling with command, and when he is in the zone, he’s getting hit hard.

Sanchez has made four starts. One of them only lasted an inning, so it doesn’t really count for much, but in the two outings where Sanchez hasn’t been hampered by his blister, he’s been great. In his first start of the season back in early April, Sanchez held the Rays to one run over seven innings. His next time out, which is when the blister issues started to get really bad, those same Rays tagged him for five runs. Last week, he was shaky but solid against the Mariners, tossing five shutout innings, but noticeably struggled with command.

Saturday at 7:35 ET

Kevin Gausman has only had a handful of good starts this season, otherwise, he’s been a disaster. In five of his nine starts, Gausman has been tagged for four or more runs, and in three of them, he hasn’t made it past the fifth inning. But two of his four good starts have come against the Blue Jays. On opening day, he held the Jays to two runs over five-and-a-third, but allowed five hits and four walks. A week later, Gausman shut the Jays down for one run over six innings of work. His big issue has been command, as Gausman is walking 4.6 batters per nine innings, which is well above his career average.

Thankfully for the O’s, Gausman has some room for error, as Mike Bolsinger will make his third start for the Jays. His first go against Cleveland was solid, but his last time out against the Braves was a nightmare. Bolsinger has allowed eight runs, seven earned, over 10 1/3 innings with the Jays so far this season. He relies heavily on his curveball, and if batters aren’t offering at it, Bolsinger is going to have a bad time. That’s what we saw against the Braves, as only 57 of Bolsinger’s 95 pitches were thrown for strikes, and he was constantly getting behind in the count.

Sunday at 1:35 ET

We joked and joked about Wade Miley, but he’s been one of two good starters for the Orioles so far this season. Through eight starts, Miley has a sparkling 3.02 earned run average, bested by only Dylan Bundy. But will it last? Probably not. Miley leads the league in walks, and is issuing a free pass 5.8 times per nine innings. His strikeout totals are up, which has helped him navigate around the problems he’s created for himself, but eventually that’s going to come crashing down. He’s getting a lot of called strikes and not many whiffs, his BABIP is fairly low, and he seems to be lucking out on line drives. I’m not sure if his luck will implode on him this weekend, but it will eventually.

Marco Estrada will start for the Jays in the finale, which is a good thing, because he’s had a good time against the Orioles over his career. That said, Estrada has been roughed up a couple times recently, getting tagged by the Braves for five runs over six innings earlier this week and five in six against the Rays a couple weeks ago. Estrada’s peripherals have been consistent throughout the season, he throws a lot of strikes, generates a lot of whiffs, but will give up a fair amount of contact, the key is whether it’s hard or soft, obviously.

Thoughts

The O’s are coming into this series with a 23-16 record, which is sort of shocking considering their league-average offence and pitching. Over their last seven games, the O’s have only won once, and seem to be falling back down to earth as they get drilled by the law of averages. But all six of those losses in that span have been by one run. The Jays have some favourable pitching matchups this weekend, and really should be able to pick up some ground. Still, though, with this many injuries and a borderline Triple-A lineup? You can’t expect anything.