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Photo Credit: © Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Into The Red

Coming off of a frustrating series loss to the Tigers, the Blue Jays will head to Boston for four games with the Red Sox. Like I said a million times over the past month-and-a-bit, Toronto’s schedule was going to get difficult. Here we are.

Monday at 7:10 ET

Eduardo Rodriguez will be activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to Monday’s game after missing action since June 1 with a knee injury. In two rehab starts in Double- and Triple-A, Rodriguez allowed 10 runs over 13 1/3 innings, but was rolling nicely before hitting the DL. In 10 starts this season, Rodriguez has a 3.54 ERA and is striking out 9.6 batters per nine innings. His one downfall, as it always has been, is command. Rodriguez walking 3.1 batters per nine, but manages to compensate for it with strikeout stuff that allows him to work out jams. With Rodriguez back, the Sox have themselves a damn nice rotation close to firing on all cylinders for the first time this season, as we’ll see this week.

Opposing him will be Marcus Stroman who’s coming off of an incredibly impressive start before the All-Star break against the American League’s best team. Stroman held the Astros and their dominant offence to just one earned run over six innings while striking out six. Amidst a rotation decimated by injuries and poor performances, Stroman has been the one constant. His 3.18 ERA is the best on the team, his peripherals are strong, and he’s consistently put up quality starts. That said, one of his three poor starts this season came back in April at the hands of the Red Sox.

Tuesday at 7:10 ET

The one blip in Boston’s rotation is Doug Fister. He’s a random fill-in for Stephen Wright who’s going to miss the remainder of the season after having knee reconstruction surgery. Fister, who used to be a really solid starter once upon a time, is pretty bad now. He owns a 6.75 ERA through three starts in 2017 and hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since his 2014 campaign with the Nationals. But that’s life in Major League Baseball. As we know all too well, injuries are a bitch, and there’s a good chance waiver wire guy is going to have to make a handful of starts unless literally nothing goes wrong.

J.A. Happ has been rolling since coming off of the disabled list in early June. He had five quality starts in a row but got drilled a little bit by the Astros in his last game before the break. Still, I wouldn’t put much, if any, stock into having a rough outing against Houston. While the Jays lineup tends to make bad pitchers look good, the Astros lineup makes good pitchers look bad.

Wednesday at 7:10 ET

The Sox paid a massive price to acquire Drew Pomeranz from the Padres last year, and it might finally be paying off. He owns a 3.75 ERA for the season, has strong peripheral numbers, and has helped play a key role in solidifying Boston’s rotation amidst injuries and poor performances. In his one start against the Jays back in June, he tossed six innings of one-run ball in Boston’s 15-1 win.

Hopefully Aaron Sanchez won’t allow Pomeranz to have that kind of run support on Wednesday. Sanchez made his second start since coming off the disabled list against the Tigers last Friday and was excellent. He scattered seven hits and two walks over six innings and didn’t allow an earned run, which was a big improvement over his unfortunate outing against the Astros. Hopefully Sanchez is back for good, because his health is key to the Jays going on an unlikely run down the stretch.

Thursday at 1:35

This game is sort of a write-off. Francisco Liriano was pulled from Saturday’s game with a sore neck and it isn’t clear if he’s going to make Thursday’s start. Chris Sale is pitching so fuck it! Sale is amazing, carves up everyone’s lineups, and had absolutely dominated the Jays on two separate occasions this year. I’m guessing the Jays will toss Mike Bolsinger out in this game rather than rushing Liriano back because they don’t have an off-day until August.

Thoughts…

So yeah, the Red Sox. They’re good. Their pitching is excellent and we aren’t evens seeing the best of it in this four-game series. With Rodriguez back, David Price and Drew Pomeranz pitching well, Sale being Sale, and Rick Porcello being hit and miss, the Sox have a chance to win every game. At this point, I doubt anybody had aspirations of Toronto catching Boston in the standings. They’re likely going to run away with this thing and the Jays are going to, if anything, chase a Wild Card. But still, we’re getting the Red Sox at not their best this week, so taking advantage of it and coming out with a split would be a very good result.

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