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Series Preview: Attempting to avoid the snake bite

The Blue Jays are coming off of their most-successful series in over a month. During their series against the Yankees, the Blue Jays won back-to-back games, and won their first-series since late April against the Athletics. There’s no question that this team has had its struggles so far this season. But as we all witnessed during this series against the Yankees, the future is very bright for this team.

This three-game series against the Diamondbacks should provide the Blue Jays with a great opportunity to continue this successful home-stand. The Diamondbacks are coming into “The Six” searching for better results following their frustrating series against the Dodgers. Hopefully none of us will have to witness those disgusting throwback purple and teal jerseys during this series. Those jerseys are as ugly as the Diamondbacks’ record since May 20. The Diamondbacks own the 3rd-worst record in the NL since that time, and they have also lost 12 of their last 18 games.

Friday at 7:07 ET

Unfortunately, the Blue Jays wasted another quality start from Stro-Show once again in his latest start against the Rockies. Stroman was lit up in the 1st-inning for three runs and four hits, but he then settled-in and only allowed three hits through his remaining six-innings of work.

Stroman will likely need a lot more than just two runs of support from his offense in this start against the Diamondbacks. This lineup from the desert recorded the 3rd-most hits and home runs throughout the NL during the month of May. While they were also tied for the 5th-most strikeouts in the NL for May, Stroman has struggled to set down batters on strikes over his last two starts. Which means Stroman will likely need support from his defense as well in this start, if they want to win three out of their last four games.

Merrill Kelly is likely still getting familiar with being back on this side of the globe. The 30-year-old spent his last four-seasons pitching overseas in Korea. But Blue Jays fans shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that this is Kelly’s first-season back in the MLB in half a decade.

The Texas-native has actually been pitching quite effectively for the Diamondbacks this season. While home runs have been an issue for Kelly this season, strikeouts aren’t something he left behind in Korea. Kelly has struck-out five or more batters in seven of his twelve starts this season. So while the Blue Jays will likely be able to take Kelly deep once or twice in this game, they should be cautious about being too anxious at the plate as well.

Saturday at 3:07 ET

Thank the Baseball Gods that Aaron Sanchez wasn’t forced to leave his last start with any kind of finger issue. The former ERA-title winner from 2016 was actually able to pitch through six-innings in his latest-start against the Rockies. However, Sanchez wasn’t able to limit the Rockies red-hot offense in his six-innings of work.

The 26-year-old surrendered seven hits, four runs, three walks and a home run in what was already his 6th-loss of the season. Coming into this start, it’s hard to expect something from Sanchez. It seems like every other start this season Sanchez has been forced to leave the game early with some kind of finger problem. So fingers crossed that Sanchez doesn’t leave this start with an injury that is so confusing, that we’re forced to google it and then pretend to not be incredibly grossed out by it.

Zack Greinke had this start pushed back a day because of some neck stiffness that arose during his latest-start against the Mets. Putting Greinke’s last start aside, the former-Cy Young award winner has pitched fantastic this season. Greinke has held opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of his 13 starts this season.

The Blue Jays recorded the fewest-amount of runs through the AL during the month of May. However, they have also recorded the 3rd-fewest amount of strikeouts in the AL so far this month. Which could mean that the Blue Jays’ lineup may have a chance at not being held scoreless by Greinke in this game.

Sunday at 1:07 ET

Clayton Richard is starting develop into a pitcher the Blue Jays could be able to rely on this season. Now that the training wheels have been officially taken off, this start against the Diamondbacks will be a great test for the Blue Jays to see what they will be able to get out of Richard this season.

In his last start against the Yankees, Richard pitched four and 2/3 innings and gave up just two runs on four hits, along with creating a season-high four strikeouts on 87 pitches. The Diamondbacks will likely be able to get their hits off of Richard. But if the 35-year-old is able to limit the damage, then he will likely have solidified his spot in this rotation for the remainder of the season.

Robbie Ray has been a jedi-master at setting down batters on strikes this season. The 27-year-old currently ranks 4th in the NL among pitchers for the most-strikeouts. Ray has recorded six or more strikeouts in ten of his 13 starts this season.

Keeping runs off the scoreboard was also another thing that Ray was a master at during May. Ray held his opponents to two runs or fewer in five of his six starts last month. The Blue Jays have scored the 5th-fewest amount of runs in the AL so far this month. Which means this game will likely be another tough one for the Blue Jays’ hitters to provide many runs of support for their team.