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Series Preview: The Bo effect

Since Bo Bichette arrived on July 29 in Kansas City, the Blue Jays’ offense has been unstoppable. They’ve recorded the 2nd-most home runs, 3rd-most total runs, RBI’s, SLG and wRC+ in the AL since No. 11 arrived with the Blue Jays. It seems that Bichette’s presence may have also had an impact on the Blue Jays’ pitching as well. Since they currently own the 3rd-best ERA in the AL since July 29.

This recent success also gives the Blue Jays another great opportunity to win yet another series against the rebuilding Mariners. Coming into this series, the Mariners have produced the fewest amount of runs in the AL since the All-Star break. Their pitching staff has also given up the 5th-most home runs in the AL since the break as well.

Friday at 7:07 ET

Unfortunately, Jacob Waguespack wasn’t able to build off his impressive start against the Rays during his latest outing against the Yankees. The 25-year-old entered the game from the bullpen following two scoreless-innings from Wilmer Font. Then, Waguespack went three and 2/3 innings and surrendered three runs on three hits along with a pair of home runs and three walks.

Waguespack wasn’t near as efficient as he was during his start against the Rays. During his last start, Waguespack threw only 57% of his pitches for strikes. However, the Mariners have hit the 2nd-fewest home runs in the AL since the break. So, even if Waguespack struggles with his command again in this outing, he shouldn’t be taken deep multiple times like he was during his latest outing.

Surprisingly, Wade LeBlanc held the Rays to just one run during his latest outing. The 35-year-old entered from the bullpen during the 2nd-inning and allowed just a solo home run through his six innings of work. This performance comes as a surprise for LeBlanc since he’s given up a combined eleven runs and 15 hits over his previous two outings.

Coming into this start, LeBlanc will likely enter the game following the 1st-inning once again. But, he’ll likely leave the game very early if he’s unable to keep the ball from leaving the yard. LeBlanc has surrendered at least one home run in seven of his eight starts since the start of July.

Saturday at 3:07 ET

Trent Thornton certainly had a bounce-back start during his latest outing against the Yankees. After deciding to once again pitch with glasses instead of contacts, Thornton held the Yankees to just one run through his six innings of work. Unfortunately, Thronton didn’t receive any runs of support from his offense. So, this outing undeservingly went as Thronton’s eighth loss of the season.

But, that unfortunate decision shouldn’t have the 25-year-old hanging his head. His 26th birthday is after all just next month. Thornton has also pitched outstanding in two of his last three starts as well. The first-year pitcher has allowed a total of just two runs through those starts. A start against the awful Mariners should allow Thronton to produce similar results to that once again.

The Mariners haven’t announced who they’ll be using as a starter in this game. They have been able to get away with just four starters in their starting rotation because of all the off days they received recently. But, they’ll likely decide to turn this game into a bullpen day for themselves. Matt Wisler or Sam Tuivailala will likely open this game for the Mariners.

Then the Mariners will have a couple of options to choose from to pitch the bulk part of the game. Both Reggie McClain and Erik Swanson are potential pitchers who could pitch multiple innings for the Mariners in this game. McClain has pitched multiple innings in each of his last two outings and has allowed just two hits over that time. Swanson has been pounded over his eight starts this season before he was moved to the bullpen. As a starter, the 25-year-old owns a 7.56 ERA, 1.320 WHIP along with a .881 OPP OPS.

Sunday at 1:07 ET

The Blue Jays have a couple of options with who to go with during this finale against the Mariners. Since the Blue Birds had an off-day before this series, and they have a travel day on Monday before they begin a three-game series against the Dodgers, they could decide to choose Thomas Pannone to start this game.

Pannone last pitched against the Rangers back on Aug. 13, so he would be making this start on regular rest. During that start against the Rangers, Pannone pitched four scoreless-innings out of the bullpen and created three strikeouts during his outing as well. Facing the Mariners opposed to the Dodgers would also be a more favorable matchup for Pannone as well.

Yusei Kikuchi has struggled mightily during his first season since coming over from Japan. The 28-year-old currently owns a 5.56 ERA, 1.520 WHIP, 6.00 FIP and a 2.2 HR/9 through his 25 starts this season. August has also not been kind to Kikuchi so far as well.

Through three starts this month, Kikuchi owns an 8.76 ERA, 2.108 WHIP and the lefty has also given up seven home runs along with his horrific ERA and WHIP. The Blue Jays have recorded a .727 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season. Which means they shouldn’t have any trouble smacking Kikuchi around during this game.