Are the Blue Jays rebuilding or contending? As of the 2019 All-Star break, it looked like the former. Toronto shipped off pitchers Marcus Stroman (Mets), Aaron Sanchez (Astros), Joe Biagini (Astros), and Daniel Hudson (Nats), as well as second baseman Eric Sogard (Milwaukee) and shortstop Freddy Galvis (Cincinnati). Then they had a better second half, boosted by production from young hotshots Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Cavan Biggio, and in the offseason they added some big names to the rotation: former Dodgers hurler Hyun Jin Ryu (4 years, $80 MM), Tanner Roark (2 years, $24 MM), and Chase Anderson (trade). So some experts saw the Blue Jays as a potential dark-horse contender for the playoffs.
So far, though, it’s been a disappointing 2020 for them. First, Canada refused to let them play in their home stadium, figuring the risk of coronavirus spread was too great. Somebody proposed “sharing” Camden Yards between two teams, but ultimately the Blue Jays shacked up in Buffalo, at a somewhat-revamped stadium of the Triple-A Bisons. Now, they’re 7-11, fourth in the AL, and the team is not hitting—with the exception of their most valuable player, shortstop Bo Bichette, who just hit the 10-day IL with a sprained knee.
The Orioles announced their starters for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s games as Alex Cobb, Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone. The Blue Jays have only announced Monday night’s starter, but according to ESPN, Nate Pearson and Tanner Roark should have the next two starts.
For the Blue Jays, what with being stuck in Triple-A digs, a slumping offense, and Camden Yards being a hitter-friendly park, this could be the rare scenario where the visitors prefer to be on the road. For the O’s, it’ll be a decent test of whether they’re actually competitive, or whether their recent hot streak has been all smoke and mirrors.
Game 1: Monday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Hyun Jin Ryu (1-1, 4.05 ERA, 24 K) v. Alex Cobb (1-1, 2.75 ERA, 19.2 IP, 17 Ks)
Ryu had a poor first two starts, but since has allowed just a run over his last 11 innings with 15 K’s. Out of current Orioles hitters, only NL veterans José Iglesias and Pat Valaika have faced the lefty Ryu. Iglesias is 1-for-5 against him and Valaika is 3-for-6 with a homer and 3 RBIs.
Alex Cobb has had a really solid season so far (shh, don’t want to jinx it), with a 2.75 ERA in four starts against Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, and his old team Tampa Bay. The last time he faced the Blue Jays was in August 2018, when he gave up five runs in 5 ⅔ innings. This is a very different lineup. Only Randal Grichuk (.714 avg in 7 ABs), Lourdes Gurriel (0-for-3), Teoscar Hernandez (2-for-6), and Travis Shaw (1-for-1) have faced Cobb before.
Game 2: Tuesday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Nate Pearson (?) (0-0, 5.11 ERA, 12.1 IP, 11Ks) v. Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 7.13 ERA, 17.2 IP, 10 Ks)
The 23-year-old rookie Nate Pearson has just three major league starts so far. Last season, Pearson went 5-4 with a 2.30 ERA in 25 starts across three minor league levels, and struck out 119 in 101 2/3 innings. One scout says Pearson “has shades of Noah Syndergaard in his profile,” probably because his fastball has been clocked at 103 mph.
After an OK first two starts this season, LeBlanc really needs a bounceback start. He’s given up 9 runs and 13 hits in his last 6.2 innings pitched. In his last shortened start against the Phillies, the veteran was the unlucky beneficiary of some very poor umpiring, so hopefully he has better luck with a friendlier face behind the plate.
Game 3: Wednesday, 1:05 p.m. ET
Tanner Roark (?) (1-1, 6.00 ERA, 12 IP, 10 Ks) vs. Tommy Milone (1-2, 4.00 ERA, 18 IPs, 18 Ks)
The nine-year veteran Tanner Roark has a career-high WHIP of 1.58 this season, but only three starts in, it’s a little soon to say how things are going. He had a solid start against his former team, Washington, but two rockier ones against Tampa Bay and Boston. Will Roark come to regret his decision to pitch in the AL East?
Milone has pretty much defined hit-or-miss this season. He gave up four and six runs in his first and fourth starts (against Boston and the Nationals); in his second and third starts (Tampa Bay and the Nationals again), one and zero runs. This will be Milone’s first start against the Blue Jays since 2014, when he was with the Athletics.
How many games will the Orioles win this series?
This poll is closed
3 – It’s a sweep!
0 – The Orioles will get swept.