Since the Jose Bautista bat-flip moment back in 2015 of the ALDS, these two teams haven’t really gotten along. But now almost four years later, it seems now that we can officially say the beef is completely over. However, it’s not like the fans on either side have forgotten what has happened. Following the 2015 playoffs, the Blue Jays and Rangers had another heated incident during their trip to Texas during the 2016 season. Regardless if there’s only five players on this current Blue Jays roster from that season, the fans still hold a heated rivalry whenever these teams play one another.
Coming into this three-game series, these franchises find themselves in similar situations. Both are currently in their rebuilding phases and are looking towards the future. Not too mention that they both currently have 14 wins as well. But while the Rangers don’t have top-quality prospects like the Blue Jays have, they do still have a bunch of very good players at the major-league level. Which is exactly why this won’t be an easy match-up for the Blue Jays. Even if these aren’t the same division winning teams from a few seasons ago.
Friday at 8:05 ET
Trent Thornton still has yet to find the same magic that he was using during his first two starts of this season. Thornton’s last start against the A’s was the best that he’s pitched since his second start of the season. The 25-year-old went five innings and only surrendered a pair of hits, and a lone run while also striking out seven batters. However, Thornton still awarded five batters with a free walk to first base, which was a season-high for the right-hander. The Rangers rank fifth in the AL in strikeouts, so Thornton should be able to get a lot of swing and misses in his search to record his first win in the major leagues.
Mike Minor has quietly been pitching as one of the best-pitchers in the AL so far this season. He currently ranks eighth in the AL in ERA, and fourth in opponents BA. Not many people (including myself) believed that we wouldn’t ever see Minor back as a starting pitcher following his shoulder surgery back in 2015. However, he appears to be pitching better than ever and displayed that in his last start against the Mariners. The 31-year-old pitched seven innings and gave up just three hits, one run, and one walk while also recording 13 strikeouts. The Blue Jays currently strikeout the second-most in the AL, so this could be another ugly game at the plate for their lineup.
Saturday at 8:05 ET
The Blue Jays haven’t officially named a starter for game two of this series. But it’s low-key known that Thomas Pannone will get the nod. The best-named pitcher in baseball has only made one other start this season. That start came against the Indians back on April 6, and it didn’t go as well as Pannone probably hope for. He was only able to go 2.2 innings after surrendering five hits, four runs and a pair of walks. However, Pannone has been one of the best-pitchers in the bullpen so far this season. Coming out of the pen, he owns a 3.86 ERA, 1.000 WHIP along with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched.
Lance Lynn will be going for the Rangers in game two of this series. Lynn has been one of the more forgotten pitchers around the MLB. The one-time all-star has been bouncing around the league over the past couple of seasons. His performance so far this season shows exactly why that has been happening. Through six starts this season, Lynn is pitching with a awful ERA of 5.45, an even worse 1.471 WHIP and a hits/9 of 10.4. Although, he’s coming off of his best-outing in years. In his last start against the Mariners, he pitched seven outstanding innings and gave up just one run and three walks. Lynn also was able to strikeout nine batters in his latest outing. So similar to Minor, the Blue Jays could be in for a lot of swing and misses in back-to-back games.
Sunday at 3:05 ET
Clay Buchholz currently owns one of the weirdest stats in the MLB. In all four of his starts, he has managed to give up six hits. While some of you may think this meaningless, and while you could be right. It should rank up there for most interesting stats alongside Kris Davis’ stat of hitting .247 for four straight seasons. Buchholz has been supplied the Blue Jays with reliable pitching so far this season. He has pitched at least five innings in three out of his four starts this season. But while he’s still searching for his first win of the season, he has still been able to put his team in a position to win in each of his starts. Which is exactly what the Blue Jays will need him to do once again in the finale of this three-game series.
Drew Smyly will be taking the mound in the finale of this series for the Rangers. This will be his first start since being activated from the IL. In four starts this season, Smyly owns a 0-2 record along with a 7.80 ERA and a 1.933 WHIP. Along with being on the IL for tightness in his arm, and his numbers so far this season, this will likely be a very short outing for the Arizona-native. The Rangers will likely have a pitch count for Smyly, which is why the Blue Jays should take as many pitches as they can each at-bat. So that they will be able to get into the Rangers’ bullpen early in this game.