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The Blue Jays are finally facing a soft schedule and they need to capitalize

Toronto Blue Jays George Springer Davis Schneider
Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
29 days ago
The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t won a series since the middle of April when they took two of three against the San Diego Padres, a National League West team. The last time the Jays won a series against an American League team was the Yankees the series before. In that time, the Jays have lost or split each of the last eight series and have been outscored 78-111 by their opposition, a -33 run differential. 
Now, lucky for the Blue Jays, they are hitting a bit of a break when it comes to their opposition; coming up for Toronto, they have two sets with the worst team in baseball, the Chicago White Sox, the only team above Chicago in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers, and the soon-to-be-evicted, Oakland Athletics. 
Starting on Monday, the Jays will play the White Sox for the first of six games between the two clubs in a matter of a couple of weeks. Chicago has had an utterly shameful season winning only 14 of their 48 games so far this season, for a win percentage of a dismal .292. After their game on Monday, the Sox have a -105 run differential, the worst in the league. Chicago is currently on pace to score 459 runs this year, allowing 813.375 runs against. That would be a differential of -354.375, the ninth-worst run differential in MLB history. 
Of all the White Sox hitters who have at least 20 plate appearances, Andrew Benintendi and Andrew Vaughn hold the team lead in RBIs with 15, which puts them in a 21-way tie for 152nd in the MLB with players like Nick Martini, LaMonte Wade Jr., Joey Ortiz, Brett Baty, and Orlando Arcia, among others. Interestingly enough, Benintendi and Andrew Vaughn have some abysmal batting averages, Benintendi with a .191, and Vaughn with a .198. The two highest averages on the team belong to a guy they signed halfway through April in Tommy Pham with a .314 in 86 at-bats, and Zach Remillard with an even .300 in 20 at-bats. 
While the bats have been left in the humidor for the Southsiders, their arms haven’t exactly tried to supplement the offensive loss. Chicago pitching sits 25th in the MLB in ERA and runs allowed, 30th in homers allowed, and tied for the second most blown saves this season with nine. Of their nine pitchers who have started a game for Chicago this season, only one guy has an ERA under 4.10, and that is Erick Fedde, who just last year pitched in the Korean KBO, where he won 20 games for the NC Dinos with an even 2.00 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 180.1 innings. Fedde secured the pitching triple crown and their version of the Cy Young Award. Six of the nine starters have an ERA higher than 5.45. 
Now the issue for the Blue Jays heading into the Chicago series is the fact that Chicago is the only other team with fewer runs than them. The Jays entered Monday’s competition with 164 runs, only 31 runs more than Chicago. These six games could and should be a massive opportunity to right that ship. 
In between the home-and-home with Chicago are the Detroit Tigers. Despite a strong start to the season, the Tigers have found themselves in familiar territory, fourth place in the AL Central. While Detroit has a +17 run differential, the Tigers have allowed five or more runs in 11 games since April 20th and have gone 4-6 in their last ten. 
The big winner for Detroit is their bullpen, as they have the third-best ERA in the MLB with a 3.10, behind only the Cleveland Guardians, the New York Yankees, who are tied for first with 2.49, and the Los Angeles Dodgers with 2.99. With that being said, similar to the White Sox, the Tigers starting pitching has not been fantastic. While Tarik Skubal and Reece Olson have maintained strong ERAs, the rest have not. Outside of those two, every other pitcher has an ERA north of 3.50, including veteran Kenta Maeda with 6.75. If Toronto can jump on the starters early, it may be smooth sailing for the Blue Jays.
After the second Chicago Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates will head to town. Pittsburgh, who also had a strong start to the year, will be the second team the Jays face with a negative run differential. The Pirates enter Monday’s action with a -27 run differential and have allowed the eighth most home runs in the MLB with 54. While the Bucs sit middle of the pack in runs allowed, it’s been the offence that has lacked in Pittsburgh. The Pirates sit 24th in runs scored in all of baseball and 25th in RBIs. 
The Pirates have had it tough lately at the plate, sending down their first overall selection in 2021 in Henry Davis after he went 11-68 to start the year. Plus, not a single hitter in their lineup has an average above .280, the Buccos have had next to no top-tier production from anybody. Their top hitters this season are Connor Joe, who has played for three different organizations since 2019, and a guy who should be one of their top hitters in Bryan Reynolds. Oneill Cruz hasn’t had quite the impact everyone expected from him, which is fair considering he is coming back from fracturing his fibula sliding into home plate last year, most likely leading to his four stolen bases this season. 
One last staggering metric for the Pirates’ offence is their lack of extra-base hits. Pittsburgh batters sit 28th in the league in doubles with 66 and 27th in the MLB in triples with three. Two of those triples are off the bat of Alika Williams, who has played 20 games so far this season, and Bryan Reynolds. If Toronto gets solid pitching through this series, the Bucs could be in for a quiet set. 
The last series the Jays have with a team with a noticeable run differential is the Oakland Athletics. The Jays will head to Oakland after a series with the O’s. The A’s have had a tumultuous start to the season. Finding their new temporary home in 2025 in Sacramento, sending down and benching some of their top players, and injuries to key players like Zack Gelof, Alex Wood, and Paul Blackburn, it has not been an easy start.
The A’s currently sit fourth in the AL West, tied for last with the Los Angeles Angels, and boast a meagre -60 run differential. The thing for the A’s is that it’s been the same story for years with this organization; the hitting is subpar, the pitching is sporadic, and the fielding is awful. The only bright side of the Athletics is Mason Miller and it’s now just a countdown until he gets traded. The A’s don’t have a starter below a 4.10 ERA; without Paul Blackburn, that baseline number rises to 4.31. Mitch Spence’s most recent appearance for the A’s was his only start of the season, where he went 4.1 innings, allowing one run on five hits and four strikeouts. Three A’s starters have an ERA higher than 5.15 including Joe Boyle’s 7.16 in seven starts. 
Mason Miller is the only arm that has done anything impressive this year boasting a 0.93 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. That is f*****g insane for an Oakland pitcher. Miller’s ERA brings the bullpen’s overall ERA down to a respectable 3.71, 10th 10th-best in baseball. Four of the A’s six other relievers outside of Miller have an ERA of 3.50 or higher. 
The bats have been just as horrific; The A’s sit in the bottom five of the league in batting average and OBP and sit 22nd in OPS. Weirdly enough for Oakland, the one thing keeping them afloat is their slugging, sitting 18th in the league. The long ball has saved the A’s this season as they sit tied for fourth in baseball in homers with 58. However, outside of the home runs, the A’s extra-base hits have not been there, ranking in the league’s bottom half in both doubles and triples.
Again, this is an all-around problem for the Athletics, as their defence has been one of the worst in baseball. They have committed the second most errors in baseball, only one behind the Boston Red Sox. The nice thing about their defence is their ability to roll the double play. Oakland has started and finished the most double plays in baseball this season, but that also means they have allowed a lot of base runners and balls in play. 
The Blue Jays have a phenomenal opportunity in the next five series, facing three teams with negative run differentials and four teams who currently sit last or second last in their division. If the Blue Jays want to get their season on the right track, these next three weeks are the time to do it.

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