Series Preview: Welcome to the second half

The Blue Jays commence the second-half of the season with a three-game series against the division-leading Yankees. Through half a season, the Blue Jays are currently playing a lot better since the beginning of the season. The Blue Jays were ranked 3rd-last in the AL in runs through April. But, they currently rank 3rd-best in runs and are tied for the most home runs in the AL since the start of June.

While the offensive numbers are encouraging for the Blue Jays, their pitching numbers are a sign for concern coming into this series. Since the start of July, the Blue Jays’ pitching staff owns a 5.00 ERA. During the same timeframe, the Yankees’ staff owns a 2.80 ERA. Which currently ranks 2nd-best in the AL. So the Blue Jays will likely have a tough time avoiding a sweep coming out of the all-star break.

Friday at 7:05 ET

The first-half of the season wasn’t very kind to Aaron Sanchez. The 27-year-old is coming out of the break with a 3-12 record along with a 6.16 ERA and a 1.750 WHIP. Hopefully, Sanchez will be able to stay healthy for the rest of the season. So that he can solely focus on reducing the number of walks he’s surrendering, opposed to focusing on getting healthy again.

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Allowing base on balls has been a massive problem for Sanchez this season. Coming into this start, Sanchez has allowed three walks or more in six of his last seven starts. The Yankees pounded Sanchez for seven runs and three walks last month. Which means that Sanchez could be in for another tough outing once again in this game.

Domingo German has had an up and down season up to this point. He was able to finish the first-half strong by recording his 10th victory of the season. But, allowing home runs continues to be a problem for German. The 26-year-old has given up at least one home run in six of his last seven starts.

With the Blue Jays are currently tied for the most home runs since the start of June, this could make for a rough outing for German if he isn’t able to keep the ball on the ground.

Saturday at 1:05 ET

While Clayton Richard performed great so far this season, he has provided the Blue Jays length at the back-end of their rotation. Richard has pitched six-innings in three-straight starts. However, his time with the Blue Jays could be ending by the end of the month.

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The Blue Jays are expected to get back Ryan Borucki by the end of July. They also have Thomas Pannone, Sean Reid-Foley and Jacob Waguespack who deserve additional chances to start at the major-league level. Which means this could be one of Richard’s last starts in a Blue Jays’ uniform.

Former-Blue Jay, J.A. Happ was virtually unhittable in his start against the Blue Jays last month. Happ went seven innings and surrendered just one run on four hits. Since then, Happ has struggled to pitch deep into games. The 36-year-old has failed to pitch at least six innings in four-straight starts.

Happ has also struggled to induce groundballs since the start of June. He has allowed ten fly balls or more in three of his last five starts. The Blue Jays will be most-successful against Happ if they can create more fly balls than ground balls, especially with this game taking place in tiny Yankee Stadium.

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Sunday at 1:05 ET

Stro-Show is scheduled to make this start in the final game of this series. The Blue Jays didn’t allow Stroman to pitch at the All-Star game earlier this week because of the pectoral cramp he sustained on June 29. But, it appears that Stroman is healthy enough to make this start.

It’s very possible the Blue Jays just didn’t want him starting until now because his trade value would have dropped if he required an IL stint. Which makes this start very important for the Blue Jays. If Stroman pitches extremely well once again, then this may be one of the last times we ever see him in a Blue Jays’ uniform.

Masahiro Tanaka will likely be very determined to begin the second-half on a good note. The 30-year-old sustained a rough stretch heading into the break. Tanaka wasn’t able to shake off his terrible outing from London in his final start before the break.

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In Tanaka’s final start before the break, he went six and 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on six hits along with a pair of home runs. The long ball has been a bit of a problem for Tanaka since the start of June. Tanaka has allowed at least one home run in five of his last six starts.