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Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Series Preview

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A look at this weekend’s three-game set at Fenway

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Bluebird Banter

The Opponent in one sentence

The Blue Jays have some of the most exciting young talent in the game in their lineup, but they are still a ways away from contention and figure to be among the more aggressive sellers this summer.

Record

27-48

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2

Trend

Down. The Blue Jays are coming off a win against Mike Trout and the Angels to close out that series, but overall they’ve lost five of their last seven games. They’ve also won just two of six series so far this month.

Pitching Matchups

6/21: Chris Sale vs. Trent Thornton, 7:10 PM ET

One of the more impressive parts of Boston’s recent series victory in Minnesota, apart from simply beating one of the league’s best teams, was that they did so without sending their best pitcher to the mound. Sale has been rolling of late and looks to keep it going against a team that has been terrorized by the Red Sox ace. Since the start of May the southpaw has pitched to a 2.09 ERA over nine starts and 60 innings with 98 strikeouts and eleven walks. He also has at least ten strikeouts in eight of those nine starts. Toronto caught Sale during his rough stretch early in the year and they scored five runs in four innings in that April game. Sale will look to put that in the rearview very quickly.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Thornton was acquired by the Blue Jays this past winter in a trade with Houston that sent infielder Aledmys Díaz to the Astros. The young righty, who is in his age-25 season, has been in the rotation all year for Toronto. Through 15 starts he has tossed 76 innings and has pitched to a 4.36 ERA, a 4.40 FIP and a 6.19 DRA. He’s going to show off some solid strikeout stuff as he’s averaging more than a strikeout per inning, but his command comes and goes. He is coming off one of his best starts of the year, however, as he tossed 6 23 scoreless frames on the road against Houston in his last time out. This will be Boston’s first look at the rookie. Thornton features a low-to-mid-90s fastball along with a slider, a cutter and a curveball.

6/22: Brian Johnson vs. TBD, 4:05 PM ET

The Red Sox turn to Johnson once again for his second try in this rotation spot that has been vacated by Nathan Eovaldi’s injury. Boston has struggled to consistently fill this spot, and hope Johnson can be the guy who can step up. He did allow only one run in that previous start, though he only tossed three innings. The southpaw also pitched out of the bullpen just a few days ago as well, giving up the losing run in Tuesday’s 17-inning loss in Minnesota. Presumably he is not going to be able to get too deep into this game, but if the Red Sox can get four or five strong innings they will take it.

I have no idea who is going to start this game for Toronto.

6/23: Rick Porcello vs. Marcus Stroman, 1:05 PM ET

We all know who Rick Porcello is at this point, and he’s coming off his second best start of the season based on Game Score. The righty was phenomenal in seven shutout innings against the best lineup in the game, and will look to carry that momentum against a less experienced lineup but one that can certainly hit some bombs against bad pitches. Control is always the calling card for Porcello, and he’s allowed one or zero walks in eight of his last nine starts. He’s faced Toronto once this year and allowed just one run over six innings with four strikeouts and three walks.

I mentioned above that the Blue Jays figure to be aggressive sellers this summer, and Stroman is likely to be the headliner among Toronto players on the way out the door. The former top prospect has never quite reached star status in his career, but the righty has been very solid for his entire run in the majors. He’s not exactly overpowering, but he has good command and gets a ton of ground balls. As such, it’s tough to put up crooked numbers when he’s on the mound. The Red Sox faced Stroman last month and scored just one run in six innings. The righty will feature a sinker in the low-to-mid-90s along with a slider and a cutter. He will also mix up his pace to keep hitters off-balance.

Old Friends

Clay Buchholz signed with the Blue Jays this past winter but has made only five starts before hitting the injured list.

Notable Position Players

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is already the face of this Blue Jays team just 45 games into his major-league career, and he figures to be for a long time. The son of the Hall of Famer, Guerrero hasn’t quite taken off yet but he’s an extremely talented hitter who will be a handful all weekend long.

Lourdes Gurriel is the most underrated of the Blue Jays young hitters and has been scorching hot of late. He’ll strikeout a bit more than you’d like, but his approach is solid and he makes loud contact.

Cavan Biggio is another son of a Hall of Famer and just recently got called up. He’s raked in his small sample of time with big power and a ton of walks to help overshadow his strikeouts.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Rowdy Tellez beat up on the Red Sox earlier this year. The big first baseman doesn’t have the best plate discipline but he can hit the ball a long way when he does make contact.

Eric Sogard has quietly been one of the most surprising players in the game and hits at the top of Toronto’s lineup with a solid walk rate, a lot of contact and surprising power this year.

Randall Grichuk strikes out too much to have a huge ceiling in his current form, but he crushes the ball when he’s going well.

Teoscar Hernandez is a slightly lesser version of Grichuk.

Danny Jansen is the catcher of the future for Toronto, but he’s had a dreadful year in 2019 with a 38 wRC+.

Freddy Galvis got off to a surprisingly hot start but has cooled off in a big way of late.

Bullpen Snapshot

Ken Giles is just getting off the injured list, but when healthy the Blue Jays closer has been really good and will likely be available this summer as well. He’s done everything well this year and has really been one of the top relief arms in baseball in 2019.

Joe Biagini is the second arm in the Blue Jays bullpen and is a big step back from Giles. Biagini can miss bats at this best, but overall his strikeout rate isn’t all that impressive and he has a home run problem on top of it.

Tim Mayza is the top lefty in the Blue Jays bullpen. He gets a lot of strikeouts and ground balls, but he can beat himself with major control issues.

Injuries

Buchholz, as mentioned above, is on the IL. He has a major shoulder strain and will likely be out for at least another month and potentially longer.

Justin Smoak went down earlier in the week with a quad injury. The timetable for his return is unclear.

Ryan Borucki has missed the entire season to this point with an elbow injury, but he could be back in the Blue Jays rotation within a few weeks.

Devon Travis underwent preseason knee surgery, but there’s still no timetable on his return.

Ryan Tepera has been out since May with an elbow injury and will be out until at least August.

Dalton Pompey has been out all year with a concussion and given his issues with head injuries throughout his career the Blue Jays are being understandably cautious.

Edwin Jackson hit the injured list with a back injury earlier this week.

Matt Shoemaker got off to a hot start this year before tearing his ACL. He’ll miss the rest of 2019.

Evlis Luciano, the first major leaguer born in the 2000’s, will be out until at least August with an elbow injury.

Jacob Waguespack is currently down with a shoulder injury, but he’s rehabbing and could be an option to start on Saturday.

Weather Forecast

It should be a nice, clear weekend in Boston.