Two rebuilding teams limping to the end of the regular season meet up for a three-game series. Toronto comes to the end of the season a very different-looking team than when it went in. Since the All-Star break, they’ve sold off a bunch of parts—pitchers Marcus Stroman (Mets), Aaron Sanchez (Astros), Joe Biagini (Astros), and Daniel Hudson (Nats), as well as second baseman Eric Sogard (Tampa Bay), while cutting shortstop Freddy Galvis (picked up by Cincinnati).
And yet, annoyingly, while the O’s and the Blue Jays were once separated by a handful of games at the bottom of the AL East, that gap has since stretched to 10 games. That’s because the O’s followed a 12-12 July with a 9-19 August and a 4-10 September, while the Jays went 12-15 in August. Toronto started its last two weeks 0-6, but managed to steal series from both the Red Sox and the Yankees.
So far, in the battle of the rebuilding teams, Toronto is a lot farther along than Baltimore, mainly because the trio of baseball princes Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. looks to be a fixture in this lineup for a while. Since getting the callup in late May, Biggio has been streaky, but he’s hitting .320 in his last seven games, with a .485 OBP. Bichette, who joined the Blue Jays on July 29, has a .315 average and a .948 OPS in 43 games. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remains in the Rookie of the Year conversation with a .269 average, 15 home runs, and a 108 OPS+.
Game 1: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Trent Thornton (5-9, 5.04 ERA) vs. TBD (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
It’s been an up-and-down year for the righty Thornton, who spent an extended amount of time on the IL this season. But in his last start against the Red Sox, Thornton tossed five no-hit innings and struck out seven. Apparently, he credited the good results to a new grip on his curveball.
If the O’s are sticking to script, this start would belong to Dylan Bundy (6-14, 4.99 ERA). I hope he’s shaken off his last start against the Dodgers, because blowing a game on a two-run dropped strike three was a gut-wrenching way to get the loss. The 26-year-old has been hit-or-miss for the Orioles, and we’ve all gotten used to the fact that he won’t have staff ace stuff, but lately—in his last five starts, Bundy is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA—he has figured out a way to work with what he has. Let’s go Bundy!
Game 2: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Clay Buchholz (1-5, 5.63 ERA) vs TBD (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Maybe you, too, are surprised to learn that Clay Buchholz now pitches for the Blue Jays? Toronto picked him up as a free agent this spring, and since, he’s spent much of the season on the IL with shoulder inflammation. In nine starts, Buchholz is 1-5 with a 5.63 ERA. Since returning from the IL in late August, he’s posting a 4.57 ERA in four starts.
The O’s are being cagey with Game 2’s starter, too, but if we’re still following the pattern, Bundy will be followed by Aaron Brooks. Brooks (5-8, 6.06 ERA) has really been the definition of hit-or-miss: in twelve starts for Baltimore this year (gosh, this season’s been long, huh) he’s given up zero or one runs three times, and five or more five times. In his last start against Detroit, he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings in a game the O’s won 6-2.
Game 3: Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN
Anthony Kay (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBD (0-0, 6.30 ERA)
Anthony Kay is a September call-up from Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. In two starts and ten innings, he’s got a 6.30 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP. That includes 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees, so I guess Kay gets a pass. He combines a sneaky curveball with a fastball he uses to paint the inside corner.
Gabriel Ynoa (1-6, 5.58 ERA) should get the start here. After starting the year in Norfolk, he was called up and got some starts as a stopgap opener. Lately, though, he’s auditioning for a proper starter role next year. The win-loss record admittedly ain’t great (1-8 in his last 30 games), but Ynoa has been solid in his latest appearances. Two starts ago, he limited the capable Rays to two runs over 6 1/3 innings. So let’s see if this outing proves he deserves to be a piece of the 2020 rotation.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Blue Jays?
This poll is closed
3 (The Orioles will sweep!)
0 (Whomp whomp, the O’s will get swept.)