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Series Preview: Off To Cleveland

The Blue Jays finished their first home stretch of the season with a record of 3-4. After just seven games, this team now looks a lot different from the end of spring training. Kendrys Morales and Kevin Pillar are now gone, and Randal Grichuk is now the leader of the outfield. We also discovered that our younger players are going to need a more time to develop at the plate.

However, the Blue Jays starting pitching has been the most surprising part through seven games. Their starting rotation has surrendered just seven runs coming into tonight’s game. If you disregard Sean Reid-Foley’s start where he gave up five runs in two innings, then you’re likely to get even more excited about the Blue Jays pitching so far. Now while their first two series came against the rebuilding Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles, it’s definitely a positive sign leading into this series against the Indians.

Thursday at 6:10 ET

Aaron Sanchez will get the ball in game one against the Indians. He looked like his normal-self in his first start of the season. He pitched five-plus scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers, and posted six swing and misses. While the most encouraging sign from his start was his ability to reach the upper-90’s with his fast ball. The Indians offense currently ranks last in the majors in batting average. So, that could result in another positive outing for Sanchez in his second start of the season.

The man who has a passion for playing with drones will get the ball for the Indians to open this series. Like Sanchez, Trevor Bauer got off to a great start to the season. He was able to hold the Twins to just one run on one hit through seven innings pitched, while also striking out nine batters. The Blue Jays have averaged to strike out 7.7 times per game, which could mean a lot more swing and misses for the Blue Jays in the opener of this series.

Friday at 7:10 ET

The Pittsburgh-native will be hoping to continue his scoreless-streak in his second major-league start that will come in game two of this series. Trent Thornton blew everyone away with his first career start in the MLB on Monday against the Tigers. Coming straight out of the Astros’ minor-league system, Thornton broke the Blue Jays franchise record for the most strikeouts in a debut with eight strikeouts against the team from Detroit.

Shane Bieber will make his first start of the season in game two, after pitching two innings out of the bullpen against the Twins. And no, he’s not related to that singer who joked about having a baby on April Fools’ day. Bieber posted a H/9 of 10.2 in 19 starts last season. Which could provide the Blue Jays a perfect opportunity to finally record double-digits in hits this season.

Mar 7, 2018; Lakeland, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Thomas Pannone (45) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday at 4:10 ET

The Blue Jays haven’t announced who’s getting the ball in game three of this series. But, they have just sent Reid-Foley to triple-A. So that likely means Thomas Pannone will get the start, after he cleaned up Reid-Foley’s mess against the Tigers. (Pannone who BTW, has the best first name of all-time), pitched five innings out of the bullpen that game, and gave up only one run off of four hits. This will be his chance to prove to the Blue Jays why he deserves another start in this rotation.

Carlos Carrasco will be looking for an opportunity to bounce back after his rough first start of the season. The 32-year-old only lasted 4.1 innings after he gave up six runs on ten hits to the Twins. However, the Blue Jays shouldn’t get caught up with this start. As Carrasco has finished each of the last two seasons with 200-plus strikeouts, so this might be another game where the Blue Jays struggle to produce many hits.

Sunday at 1:10 ET

StroShow episode three is scheduled for the finale of this series. Marcus Stroman will look to build off his 1.42 ERA and 1.263 WHIP in his third start of the season. Last time out he wasn’t as effective as he was on opening day. But, he was still able to pitch into the sixth inning and give the Blue Jays a chance to win. Stroman struggled to locate his slider against the Orioles, which largely resulted in the nine hits he surrendered. So location with all his pitches will be the key for success in this game against the Indians.

While the Blue Jays are lucky they don’t have to face Corey Kluber in this series. Mike Clevinger could prove to be the next best thing to him. In his first start of the season, Clevinger whiffed 12 batters while only giving up one hit through seven innings against the White Sox. The Indians starting rotation is filled with strikeout pitchers, but the pitcher who records the most in this series could come in the finale.