Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Miami MarlinsBy
Finally, a series I feel particularly and specifically capable of previewing.
The Toronto Blue Jays are coming to town! Or, from my perspective, going to Miami (I’m Canadian, have I mentioned this?).
Two teams with completely opposite plans when it comes to team building match up in Interleague play sporting very similar records.
The Miami Marlins (33-34) spent $117m to bring in multiple key players in hopes of competing this season in the tough NL East.
The Toronto Blue Jays (35-34) spent $75m with high ceiling, but very raw prospects filling the Major League roster in hopes of competing two seasons from now in the tough AL East.
So, why are these teams playing with similar records? I have no idea, but I think it goes back to my last article.
Miami needs to win this series. I’ll say that first. After what can only be described as an abysmal month thus far they have a Jays team coming to town having lost four of their Top seven starting pitchers coming out of Spring Training and are struggling to gain traction Their top hitters have been underperforming, their young hitters have been streaky, and their bullpen has been overworked in recent weeks while relying on minor league call-ups to eat up multiple innings.
The Jays are wounded and the Marlins must attack.
This is the kind of team that Miami needs to beat to get their month and season going. The Jays have become what the Florida Marlins had been viewed as for many years following their first World Series win.
A stepping stone for good teams to make runs.
And yet, like any good spoiler, this is not a team that can be relaxed on, as division rival Philadelphia found out, and Miami would be remiss in taking them too lightly.
It seems, as has been Miami’s luck this season, even against a wounded opponent they manage to draw the short straw and have the toughest road in which to have to beat them.
The Jays top four in the lineup are as good as any out there right now and come into Miami hitting the cover off the ball.
Brett Lawrie has been hitting near .300 all season and has finally found his power (two home run’s and 6 extra base hits in his last 5 games coming into play on 20/06). Colby Rasmus has been hitting .358 with 9 home run’s and 5 doubles since moving to the 2-hole. Jose Bautista has ten homers with a slash line of .276/.427/.828 in June. And Edwin Encarnacion has 19-home runs on the season.
Miami’s pitching must be on point if they have any chance of keeping these four at bay.
And, somehow, the task is not any easier for the Marlin’s offense. Even with the Jays patchwork starting rotation the Marlins will face two Left-Handed Pitcher’s to start the series and only three of the Marlins everyday players are hitting over .250 against lefties (Stanton, Ramirez, and Infante).
Game One’s Probably Pitcher’s are Ricky Romero (7-1 with a 4.28-era) against Anibal Sanchez (3-5 with a 3.47-era).
Ricky Romero has not been good this season, despite his record. He hasn’t lost since May 13th but, not without trying. He’s allowed four runs or more in five consecutive outings and simply has not looked sharp this season. This, despite being the Jays staff Ace on the mound, is a should-win for the Marlins.
Get to RickyRo early and you can get to him often.
Game Two Probably Pitching Matchup, and at this point it is all guess work with the Jays on who will pitch after Romero, is Brett Cecil (1-0 with a 3.60-era) and Josh Johnson (4-5 with a 4.18-era).
Cecil was supposed to be on the Jays opening day roster but has seen velocity become a huge issue as his fastball, which had been in the low-90’s during his breakout 2010 season, has dipped to a batting practice 85-mph on some nights. If the Marlins are going to win this game, and they should, they will need to jump on Cecil early and often.
Jays Manager John Farrell may be reluctant to go to the pen in this series after having used them so much in a series against Milwaukee which saw their starters only pitch 9.2 over three games. If he’s reluctant, and Cecil can be gotten to, it could be a big night for the Marlins.
Game Three will likely see the Jays send Henderson Alvarez to the mound (3-6 with a 4.30-era) and the Marlins will counter with Mark Buehrle (5-8 with a 3.82-era).
Alvarez was shelled by the Brewers allowing six runs on 11 hits in just 4 innings of work on Monday and has not been nearly as crisp as he had been early in the season. This is a pitcher who doesn’t strike many hitters out (2.70 k/9) but also forces a lot of hitters to put the ball on the ground (57.3% GB%) but the Marlins have caught him at a great time.
For reasons I will not venture to explain Alvarez has been roughed up a fair bit in his last six starts allowing less than 3 runs only once and not once has he given up less than 7 hits in that time. His sinker hasn’t been sinking and his numbers show it. His BABIP is .342 which would be 6th worst in the MLB among qualified pitchers (not-so good fact, Josh Johnson’s is 2nd worst).
This is getting a bit long so I’ll summarize quickly. The Marlins are in desperate need of a win and the Jays are wounded prey. Miami should win this series and need to if they are going to turn this month around, but the Jays, despite many injuries, are not to be taken lightly and in true hard-luck fashion the Marlins are given the toughest road to a series win.
Sounds like the things a great series are made of.