So far this year, the Toronto Blue Jays have felt more like an idea than an actual baseball team. Here the Orioles are with 108 games in the books and they have played the Blue Jays four times. That’s nuts! Because of this weird schedule quirk, that means the Orioles play the Blue Jays in just about 28% of their remaining games this year. That’s just dumb.
The Blue Jays have occupied one of the wild card spots throughout the season and have been in the first spot for awhile now. They currently have a two-game lead on the Rays and Mariners and a four-game lead on the Orioles. So even if the Orioles sweep the Jays, they still can’t catch them. But they’ll make it awfully close!
The only series the two teams have played so far came in Toronto in June with the teams playing to a 2-2 split. Two of the Orioles’ starters in that series, Bruce Zimmermann and Tyler Wells, are no longer on the active roster. Zimmermann is trying to work his stuff out at triple-A and Wells, who had weirdly become the O’s best starter, is on the injured list.
The other two starters in that series, Jordan Lyles and Kyle Bradish, are also starting in the series that begins tonight. Neither fared very well with Lyles giving up four runs in 5.1 innings and Bradish five runs in 4.1 innings. Let’s hope they both do better this time around!
Since we last saw the Jays, the trade deadline has passed and they have attempted to shore up their team in their march to the postseason. They added Anthony Bass and Zach Pop from the Marlins, Mitch White from the Dodgers, and Whit Merrifield. Merrifield is, of course, one of the notorious group of 10 players on the Royals who couldn’t go to Canada because they weren’t vaccinated. He did get vaccinated to play for the Blue Jays.
Game 1: Monday, August 8th, 7:05 pm
RHP Jordan Lyles (22 GS, 4.40 ERA/4.24 FIP) vs LHP Yusei Kikuchi (18 GS, 4.86 ERA/5.50 FIP)
This is a rematch from the series in June. In that game, both Lyles and Kikuchi gave up four runs, but Lyles got the win and Kikuchi took the loss because the Orioles scored their four runs first. Pitcher wins!
Anyway, in that game Kikuchi gave up home runs to Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays and doubles to Mountcastle and Robinson Chirinos. He got knocked around pretty good. Over the season, Kikuchi hasn’t been able to go deep into games, even when he doesn’t give up too many runs. In nine starts since the beginning of June, Kikuchi has completed more than five innings just once.
As for Lyles, he has been doing his best to eat the innings of late. Since the start of June, he has made 12 starts and has gone over five innings eight times. He has lasted under five innings just once. In his last start, Lyles held the Rangers to just one run in 6.1 IP.
Keep an eye out for Matt Chapman, who has owned Lyles in 19 career plate appearances. Chapman has gone 6-for-17 with three homers and an OPS of 1.310.
Game 2: Tuesday, August 9th, 7:05 pm
RHP Kyle Bradish (12 GS, 6.55 ERA/5.15 FIP) vs RHP Alek Manoah (21 GS, 2.45 ERA/3.42 FIP)
This is also a rematch from that first series and hopefully Bradish is ready to get some revenge as he was thoroughly outpitched last time. Manoah shut out the Orioles through six innings while Bradish was kind of a mess.
Bradish has made two starts since returning from the IL and they have been pretty decent but nothing spectacular. It’ll be tough for “decent but nothing spectacular” to beat Manoah, who was an All Star this year. Manoah doesn’t walk many and he strikes out a decent amount, but the number that jumps out at me is that he leads the league in HBP. AND he did last year, too! Don’t hit a bunch of Orioles! (He hit Trey Mancini back in June.)
Game 3: Wednesday, August 10th, 7:05 pm
RHP Dean Kremer (11 GS, 3.43 ERA/3.91 FIP) vs José Berríos (22 GS, 5.19 ERA/4.83 FIP)
Kremer had a rough go of things in the month of July but here’s hoping he turned over a new leaf for August. Against the Pirates in the last series, Kremer pitched 6.1 shutout innings in a turnaround from his July performance.
Back in June, Berríos had the privilege of surrendering Adley Rutschman’s first career major league home run. He also gave up a dinger to Mountcastle as part of a seven-inning, three-run effort.
As you can see by the ERA, Berríos isn’t having the year the Blue Jays hoped he would and he hasn’t lived up to his last few years’ performance. But he is on a solid stretch since the start of July with a 3.86 ERA over seven starts.
How many games will the Orioles win in this series?
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