Series Preview: Are people even thinking about the Blue Jays right now?

Most people who are following the Blue Jays this season are probably still out celebrating from the Raptors glorious championship victory a night ago. However, the Blue Jays are beginning a three-game series against the Houston Astros. The Blue Jays are actually coming into this series playing their best-baseball in months.

The Blue Jays have recorded at least five runs in each of their last two games. Which is something they haven’t done since their series against the Athletics back in late-April. While these Astros are currently missing three of their key-players for this series, they still own the best-record since the calendar turned to June.

Friday at 8:10 ET

Surprisingly, Aaron Sanchez hasn’t been forced to leave either of his previous two starts due to injury. Which is very encouraging for the Blue Jays, given where they’re with their pitching depth at the major-league level. However, Sanchez hasn’t been effective over his last two starts.

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The 26-year-old has given up a combined 13 hits, nine runs, seven walks and a pair of home runs over his last two starts. Sanchez’s ineffectiveness with his pitches has been a major problem for him all season-long. That issue will also likely become a problem for Sanchez in this start against the Astros. Their lineup has recorded the 3rd-most walks in the AL so far this month. Which means this could be a very short outing for Sanchez, if he’s once again unable to locate his pitches.

Gerrit Cole has been one of the best-pitchers in the entire league so far this season. The 28-year-old has recorded the most-strikeouts in the entire league, and has created a mind blowing 30 strikeouts over his last three starts. While the Blue Jays have improved their plate discipline compared to earlier this season. Their lineup has struck-out 5th-most in the AL so far this month.

While Cole has been outstanding at creating swing and misses this season, he has struggled to keep the ball from leaving the yard. The former 1st-overall selection from the 2011 draft, has surrendered at least one home run in eleven of his 14 starts this season.

Saturday at 4:10 ET

If you remember from the series preview I wrote back during the series against the Diamondbacks, I stated that Clayton Richard’s start would prove to be a massive test in determining his future in this rotation. Well, Richard failed that test miserably, and his future with this team is unclear. The 35-year-old only lasted two and 2/3 innings before he was chased from his latest outing.

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Before departing, Richard threw 70 pitches gave up seven hits, seven runs along with a pair of walks. The Blue Jays don’t have anyone to replace Richard in their rotation right now. So similar with Edwin Jackson, the Blue Jays will have to continue with these awful outings, until other alternatives arise.

This will be just Framber Valdez’s second-start of this season. The 25-year began the season in the bullpen, but he has been forced into the starting rotation due to injuries. Valdez was near-perfect last time out against the Orioles. He went seven-innings and made just one mistake the entire game. Which lead to the one run that Valdez surrendered through his seven-innings pitched.

The Blue Jays have never faced Valdez before this game. Which means the first-time through their lineup may lead to very few hits. But, they will then need to make their adjustments the second-time through their lineup. In order to be successful in this game.

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Sunday at 2:10 ET

Trent Thornton showed to us all during this past series against the Orioles that he would make a very decent catcher if this whole pitching thing doesn’t work out for him. But, the 25-year-old actually matches up very well against this Astros lineup.

The Blue Jays new emergency catcher has been excellent against teams who strikeout at a high rate this season. The Astros have struck-out the most of any team in the AL so far this month. So as long as Thornton can locate his pitches, then he should have a very successful start in the finale of this series.

The Astros haven’t officially announced a starter for this game. However, it’s expected to be Wade Miley to take the mound for the Astros in this game. The man who appears to be high out of his mind in almost every picture that he takes, last pitched on June 9 against the Orioles. In that start, Miley pitched six scoreless-innings, and surrendered six hits and just a pair of walks.

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Surprisingly, Miley has carried his success from last season into this one. Miley has held his opponents to two runs or fewer in eight of his 14 starts this season. However, Miley has had a tendency to lose the strike zone at times this season. Which means the Blue Jays hitters will want to be patient at the plate in this game. Which is something they were very good at doing over their last two games.