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Orioles-Blue Jays series preview: A desperate division rival

The O’s have dominated the Jays for much of the season, and right now the division rival is on the outside of the AL playoff picture.

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

It’s go time for the Toronto Blue Jays. They enter this series one game out of the AL’s final wild card spot, hoping to chase down the red hot Seattle Mariners. But it won’t get any easier for them here. The Orioles have dominated them this year, winning eight of 10 matchups so far.

As talented as this Blue Jays core has been for several years now, all they have to show for it is two wild card berths and zero playoff game wins in the last six years. They entered the season with lofty expectations. Falling short of the postseason entirely would be a disaster, and it could result in multiple front office heads rolling.

The return of Bo Bichette earlier this week will certainly help matters. The knee tendinitis he suffered the last time these two teams met is now a thing of the past. He has been their most important player all year long, boasting a team-best 134 OPS+. Toronto also recently activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and reliever Trevor Richards. Meanwhile, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is battling a finger issue that ended his game early on Sunday, but it does not seem he will need an IL stint.

This past weekend saw the Jays take two of three from the Reds for their first series win since sweeping Boston from August 4-6. The club has not exactly played poorly, but it’s been closer to mediocre than it should be if they want to make a postseason push.

Game 1: Tuesday, August 22nd, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2

RHP Grayson Rodriguez (3-3, 5.44 ERA) vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (9-4, 3.44 ERA)

The rookie Rodriguez has been impressive since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk in mid-July. Over six starts he has a 3.03 ERA/2.96 FIP. That includes a 5.2-inning outing against these Blue Jays on August 2. On that day he allowed three runs on two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts.

Kikuchi has been stellar in his last six starts, allowing five earned runs over 35 innings with 36 strikeouts and eight walks. This will be his fourth start against the Orioles this season. He owns a 3.52 ERA against them so far in 2023.

Game 2: Wednesday, August 23rd, 7:05 p.m., MASN 2

RHP Jack Flaherty (8-8, 4.73 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (9-7, 3.24 ERA)

Flaherty’s Oriole debut was a six-inning, one-run start against these Blue Jays on August 3. He was great! But he’s been less so since, allowing 10 earned runs over eight innings against the Astros and Padres. The Orioles need more out of the veteran, who was their trade deadline prize.

Gausman hasn’t found much success against his former team. Over four starts the last two seasons he has a 5.06 ERA in 21.1 total innings when facing the Birds. His August 3 start was no exception: 4.1 innings, eight hits, three runs, two walks, six strikeouts. But he’s been terrific otherwise and will always be a threat to shut down a lineup.

Game 3: Thursday, August 24th, 7:05 p.m., MASN & MLB Network

RHP Dean Kremer (11-5, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP José Berríos (9-8, 3.39 ERA)

Since the start of July, Kremer has a 3.45 ERA, holding opponents to a .193 batting average over 47 total innings. If he can keep the ball in the park—something that has been difficult for him this season—he’s usually putting the Orioles in a favorable position. He has allowed three earned runs over 11.1 innings (two starts) to the Blue Jays this season.

Berríos has been impressive since mid-May. Across 16 starts he has thrown 93.1 innings and pitched to a 2.70 ERA. But his FIP in that time is up to 4.17, indicating a bit of smoke and mirrors as well. His only start against the O’s this year was a good one: 7.2 shutout innings on June 14.


How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Blue Jays?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0 (get swept)
    (18 votes)
  • 21%
    (134 votes)
  • 68%
    (440 votes)
  • 7%
    3 (do the sweepin’!)
    (46 votes)
638 votes total Vote Now