Cleveland Indians series preview: Toronto Blue Jays, July 9-11

Tom Szczerbowski

The Indians face off with the Blue Jays, a team that's played much better baseball over the last five weeks than it did in April and May.

Coming of a disappointing series against Detroit, the Indians continue their homestand with three games against the Blue Jays. Tuesday and Wednesday's games will start at 7:05, while Thursday's series finale begins at 12:05 that afternoon. The two teams haven't met since their season-opening series in Toronto, when the Tribe took 2 of 3.

Team in a Box

Toronto Blue Jays

Offense

AL Rank

Pitching

AL Rank

2013 Record

43-45

Runs/Game

4.60

8th

Runs/Game

4.67

13th

AL East

5th

OBP

.315

10th

SO/9

7.1

11th

Last 10

4-6

SLG

.419

8th

BB/9

3.2

11th

Last 30

19-11

Steals

60

4th

H/9

8.9

12th

*All stats through Monday, July 8th's results

The Blue Jays acquired a lot of new players coming into 2013, including Melky Cabrera, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes, and were seen by many as a top contender for the American League pennant. Instead, they stumbled badly in the season's first couple months, and at the end of play on June 4th, they found themselves with a 24-34 record. Since then though, they've gone 19-11, including an 11-game winning streak, and have pulled back within 6 games of the second wildcard spot. They aren't likely to overcome enough of the teams ahead of them to make the postseason, but they're back in the conversation.

Projected Lineup

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

SS

Jose Reyes

S

97

326

371

494

133

RF

Jose Bautista

R

363

265

364

513

135

1B

Edwin Encarnacion

R

373

268

357

532

138

DH

Adam Lind

L

272

309

368

519

138

CF

Colby Rasmus

L

321

250

324

476

114

LF

Rajai Davis

R

165

296

341

395

100

C

J.P Arencibia

R

306

219

252

418

78

3B

Maicer Izturis

S

273

243

280

341

68

2B

Mark DeRosa

R

139

213

295

410

89

The lineup is very dangerous through the heart of the order. Reyes has been hot since returning from an injury, Bautista and Encarnacion continue to be one of the best power-hitting duos in baseball, Lind is having his best season since 2009, and Rasmus finally looks like the player Toronto thought it was acquiring back in 2011.

Projected Starters

Date

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

July 9

Josh Johnson (Jimenez)

R

4.89

53.1

87

11.1

3.4

9.1

July 10

Esmil Rogers (Masterson)

R

3.84

65.2

111

9.5

2.7

5.8

July 11

R.A. Dickey* (TBD)

R

4.77

122.2

89

8.4

3.2

6.2

Johnson and Buehrle have disappointed in their first season in Toronto, Johnson especially. Rogers, on the other hand, has done fairly well since coming over from Cleveland in a deal for Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. He worked out of the bullpen until a month ago, when he was moved into the rotation. Since then he's made 3 quality starts and compiled a 3.89 ERA over 34.2 innings (in 6 games). Buehrle has faced the Indians more times than any other pitcher in the last 25 years, but without great success (a 4.87 ERA, his highest against any of the 13 opponents he's thrown 100+ innings against).

*This post has been updated to reflect that Toronto has moved R.A. Dickey up a day. He will now pitch on Thursday, instead of Mark Buehrle.

Key Relievers

Player

Throws

ERA

IP

ERA+

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Casey Janssen

R

2.57

28.0

168

5.5

1.9

7.7

Brett Cecil

L

1.81

44.2

236

4.8

3.0

10.5

Aaron Loup

L

2.05

44.0

210

7.8

1.0

6.8

Other active members of the bullpen are Steve Delabar, Darren Oliver, Neil Wagner, Juan Perez, and Dustin McGowan. There aren't many (if any) big names in that group, but collectively, Toronto's bullpen has been arguably the AL's best. They lead all Major League teams in innings pitched and have the best ERA in the American League. The Indians should look top avoid any battles of the bullpen in this series.

On the Shelf

  • 3B Brett Lawrie (sprained ankle) - 15-day DL, rehabbing now
  • OF Melky Cabrera (knee tendonitis) - 15-day DL, likely back after All-Star break
  • SP Brandon Morrow (strained forearm) - 15-day DL, possible August return
  • SP J.A. Happ (head contusion) - 60-day DL, possible August return
  • SP Drew Hutchinson (Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, possible August return
  • RP Luis Perez (Tommy John surgery) - 60-day DL, possible August return
  • RP Sergio Santos (elbow surgery) - 60-day DL, rehabbing now

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2013

2

1

667

15

13

565

2012

2

4

333

22

31

348

Last 5*

21

17

553

174

181

482

Last 10*

40

29

590

322

300

532

All-Time

190

191

499

1807

1806

500

*Does not include 2013 stats

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