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Up next: Blue Jays face the Red Sox for the first time this season

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Photo credit:© Eric Canha - USA Today
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have an opportunity to move into third in the American League East by the end of Wednesday.
Starting on Monday, the Blue Jays play a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox (37-35) and not only a chance to move to .500, but with a sweep, they’d move into third in the AL East.

Nuts and Bolts

Monday, June 17th, 7:07 EST: Yusei Kikuchi (4-5, 3.26 ERA) vs Nick Pivetta (3-4, 3.88 ERA)
Tuesday, June 18th, 7:07 EST: Chris Bassitt (6-6, 3.56 ERA) vs Tanner Houck (7-5, 2.08 ERA)
Wednesday, June 19th, 7:07 EST: Kevin Gausman (5-5, 4.08 ERA) vs Brayan Bello (6-4, 5 ERA)

Starting Pitching

Sadly for the Blue Jays, they’ll run into one of the pitching staffs in the league. This season, Boston Red Sox starters have thrown 372 innings and they collectively have a 3.42 ERA, ranking seventh in the league.
The best starter of the bunch is Tanner Houck, who the Jays face on Tuesday. Houck has a 2.08 ERA and a 2.21 FIP in 91 innings pitched, along with a 24.5 K% and a 4.1 BB%. His 3.2 fWAR leads the league for pitchers. Interestingly, he was selected in the 2014 draft by the Blue Jays, but elected not to sign.
Their second best pitcher, Kutter Crawford, won’t pitch in this series, but he has a 3.54 ERA and a 3.66 FIP in 86.1 innings pitched. Cooper Crawford is the other starter they’ll miss, he has a 4.17 ERA and a 3.66 FIP in 49.2 innings pitched.
Canadian Nick Pivetta starts Monday, and he’s having one of his best seasons to date, posting a 3.88 ERA and a 3.86 FIP in 46.1 innings pitched, along with a 29.6 K% and a 7 BB%. Brayan Bello is the other starter they’ll face, and he has a 5 ERA and a 4.72 FIP in 63 innings pitched, but has had success in past seasons.
This is the second straight series the Jays will play with an opposing player with the name “Brayan” (Rocchio for the Guardians).

Bullpen

The Red Sox bullpen is just as good. This season, their 3.50 ERA is tied for seventh, which doesn’t sound great, but the Jays’ bullpen ERA is 4.69, fourth-worst in the league.
Kenley Jansen is the team’s closer, picking up 11 saves in 22 appearances. He’s pitched 23 innings with a 2.74 ERA and a 2.11 FIP, and has a 31.6 K% and an 11.6 BB%. Brennan Bernardino is the staff’s ERA leader, posting a 1.09 ERA and a 2.79 FIP in 24.2 innings pitched.
There are several long-men who have appeared in the bullpen. Their best in Justin Slaten, who has pitched 35.1 innings in 24 games with a 3.06 ERA and a 2.39 FIP, along with a 26.1 K% and a 4.2 BB%. Former Blue Jay Chase Anderson has pitched 36 innings and has a 3.75 ERA and a 4.79 FIP.
Other relievers on the team are Cam Booser (3.46 ERA in 26 IP), Brad Keller (4.91 ERA in 29.1 IP), Zack Kelly (1.88 ERA in 24 IP), and Greg Weissert (2.87 ERA in 31.1 IP).

Hitting

As one can imagine, third baseman Rafael Devers has been the team’s best hitter this season. The 27-year-old is slashing .283/.377/.547 with 13 homers in 260 plate appearances for a 150 wRC+ and a 2.3 fWAR.
Jarren Duran, the centrefielder that allowed Raimel Tapia to score an inside-the-park home run, has been the Red Sox’s best position player this season by fWAR. This season, he’s slashing .278/.348/.468 with five homers in 333 plate appearances for 125 wRC+ and a 2.9 fWAR.
Catcher Connor Wong has had a breakout season, slashing .333/.398/.459 with five homers in 206 plate appearances for a 141 wRC+ and a 1.7 fWAR. Wilyer Abreu also has had a nice season, slashing .272/.344/.486 with six homers in 189 plate appearances for a 128 wRC+ and a 1.6 fWAR.
Former Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire is having a rough season, slashing .223/.291/.330 with a 26.3 K% and a 72 wRC+, but posting a 0.2 fWAR due to solid defence. Another former Blue Jay, Rob Refsnyder, has had a solid season with a .326/.405/.473 slash line in 149 plate appearances for a 147 wRC+ and a 0.7 fWAR.
One of the biggest surprises for the team has been Canadian Tyler O’Neill’s performance. Traded for a reliever and a prospect, the Maple Ridge, British Columbia product (same hometown as Hall of Famer Larry Walker) is slashing .253/.348/.500 with 12 homers in 201 plate appearances.

Final word

Last season, Boston won the first seven games against Toronto, before the Jays won the last six games against the Red Sox. The year prior, the Jays torched the Red Sox, winning 16 of 19 games.
These games are always high-scoring affairs, and the Blue Jays really need to reach the .500 mark for the first time since late April.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

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