clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Red Sox at Blue Jays Series Preview

New, comments

A look ahead to this week’s three-game set north of the border.

Toronto Blue Jays Vs. Boston Red Sox At Fenway Park Photo by Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

SB Nation Blog

Bluebird Banter

The Opponent in one sentence

The Blue Jays are going to be a formidable opponent in short order, but they are not there yet and despite taking two of three from the Red Sox just over a week ago they are among the worst teams in the game.

Record

32-53

Head-to-Head Record

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4

Trend

Up. The Blue Jays are playing better baseball than they have at pretty much any other point this year, and that goes back to their series in Boston just over a week ago. The Blue Jays took two of three in that weekend series, of course, They did get swept by the Yankees after that, but most recently they took three of four from the Royals. That’s two series wins in their last three, for those keeping track at home.

Pitching Matchups

7/2: David Price vs. Trent Thornton, 7:10 PM ET

The Red Sox could really use some good pitching this week to get the taste from the London series out of our mouths. The good news is there is likely no better arm to turn to than David Price to kick that off. There has been a lot of talk about Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers missing out on the preliminary All-Star rosters, but Price was a legitimate snub as well. The lefty has been consistently good for Boston all year, pitching to a 3.36 ERA, a 2.85 FIP and a 3.72 DRA through his first 14 starts of 2019. He has faced the Blue Jays once this year back in late May when he allowed two runs, neither of which were earned, over five innings of work.

2019 London Series Boston Red Sox Workout Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Thornton was acquired by the Blue Jays this past winter in exchange for Aledmys Díaz, and he has been solid over his first season in the majors. It hasn’t always been consistent, to be fair, and he is coming off a rough outing against the Yankees when he allowed five runs without making it through four innings. Red Sox pitchers can relate to that. That broke a streak of three consecutive starts in which he allowed three or fewer runs and was just the second time he’d done so since May 14. Boston did get a look at the 25-year-old righty the last time these two teams met and Thornton allowed just two runs over 6 13 innings while striking out seven and walking only one. He’ll feature a fastball that sits at 93 mph as well as a slider, a cutter and a curveball.

7/3: Chris Sale vs. Sean Reid-Foley, 7:10 PM ET

If David Price is the number one pitcher you’d like to have on the mound for the Red Sox right now, Chris Sale is certainly not far behind him. The lefty obviously did not have the start to the season anyone was hoping for, but he’s been a bit better of late. That being said, his last few outings have not gone as planned and he’s needed his offense to pick him up to avoid losses. He’s coming off a particularly disappointing outing in which he allowed five runs to the White Sox with his command not quite being there all start. He’ll have had seven days between starts heading into this one, so hopefully that was enough time to figure out his issues. Unfortunately, Toronto has posed a bit of a problem for Sale this year, scoring nine runs (eight earned) across two starts over nine innings in 2019.

Sean Reid-Foley was one of the top pitching prospects in the game just a few years ago, but his stock has fallen a bit since then. Still, the righty is only 23 years old and was just recently called back up to the majors. Despite striking out ten batters per nine in Triple-A this year, he’s pitched to a rough 5.87 ERA thanks to major control issues that have plagued him throughout the season. Reid-Foley has made one start and one relief appearance since coming up just last week, pitching a total of 7 13 innings and allowing two runs on five strikeouts and four walks. This will be Boston’s first look at the righty, who did make seven major-league starts in 2018 as well. He’ll throw a fastball that can get up to the mid-90s as well as a pair of breaking balls.

7/4: TBD vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 PM ET

The Red Sox have not announced who is starting on Thursday’s series finale. This would be the fifth spot on the rotation that has been such a struggle to fill. Brian Johnson has been the most recent man to fill it, but he was just recently placed on the injured list. The most likely scenario would probably be Rick Porcello getting the start. He would be on regular start after pitching on Saturday. He also only recorded one out in that one, so he shouldn’t be too tired. Other options could be Ryan Weber, Josh Smith or Hector Velázquez.

Marcus Stroman is very clearly the best starter on the Blue Jays, and is also a safe bet to no longer be on the Blue Jays by the time August rolls around. In the meantime, he is around to pose problems for Red Sox hitters and show a little flare while he does it. That last part may irk some (Dennis Eckersley,,,,hello), but it is who he is. On the year, he has pitched to a 3.18 ERA over his first 18 starts with a 3.77 FIP and a 3.91 DRA. Boston has seen him twice this year and has scored a total of one run over 12 innings.

Note: Much of the rest of this post is copied and pasted from the last series preview between these two teams.

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 54 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 week long. He will also be featured in next Monday’s Home Run Derby.

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 hit well in his small sample of time with big power and a ton of walks to help overshadow his strikeouts.

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.

Randal 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 52 wRC+.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

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. Biaginican 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.

Weather Forecast

Weather isn’t a major factor here, as the Blue Jays have a retractable roof. That said, the weather looks solid for these three days and they should be able to play with it open.