For the first time ever, Jose Bautista will play at Rogers Centre not as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
I mean, he had played in Toronto as a member of the other team before, but that was before he was the Jose Bautista. That was back when he was a struggling bench player, back before he broke out and became arguably the best position player in Blue Jays history, back before he injected life into this organization and brought baseball back to Toronto.
I’m happy to see Bautista playing well for the New York Mets. He owns a .894 OPS over the course of 36 games and has been one of the only good things about that team’s lineup. I won’t lie, though, when this happiness is bittersweet. It’s difficult to watch a hapless Blue Jays team this season with so many random faces who have virtually zero value moving forward and not think that Bautista could be here instead.
That’s obviously an easy take to make with hindsight goggles on. I am aware of how bad Bautista was over the course of the 2017 season and how we were all ready to move on after his send-off in September. Still, watching him put up professional, Bautista-calibre at-bats with the Mets is somewhat difficult to swallow.
Regardless, here we are. It’s Jose Bautista’s return to Toronto. There haven’t been many reasons to cheer this year, but this is one. Pack the stadium and show this goddamn legend some love.
Tuesday at 7:07 ET
Is Zack Wheeler finally healthy and pitching well? It seems so! After missing all of 2015 and 2016 and most of 2017, Wheeler has had an injury-free 2018 so far. It’s been a rollercoaster, as some starts have been bad and some have been good, but Wheeler has posted four quality starts in his last six outings. It may not seem like anything special, but it’s a positive sigh for somebody who hasn’t had very many positives the past few years. Marco Estrada will start for the Jays in the opener. Estrada is coming off a rough start in Houston that snapped four-game quality start streak. As we approach the trade deadline, any Estrada start could be his last with the Blue Jays.
Wednesday at 7:07 ET
The finale of this two-game set will be between rookie Corey Oswalt and Marcus Stroman. Oswalt has an ugly 9.82 ERA because the Mets gave him about 10 minutes of notice before making his first big league start last week against the Marlins. Oswalt got tagged for six runs in two-and-two-thirds innings. He has a 5.32 ERA in Triple-A this season, though he pitches in Las Vegas. As we remember from when the Jays Triple-A team was the 51s, the desert is a nightmare for pitchers. Stroman has been excellent since coming off the disabled list. Over his last two starts, Stroman has allowed one earned run over 12 innings of work. He’s struck out nine and, most importantly, he’s walked just one.