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Series Preview: Pirates at Blue Jays

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New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

American League finalists last year, the Blue Jays stumbled to a 3-11 start and an 8-17 April and haven’t been the competitor they hoped to be in 2017. Though they’re four games back in the goofy AL Wild Card race, seven teams stand between them and a playoff spot.

The Blue Jays dealt Joe Smith to the Indians and noted 2017 acquisition (at least around here) Francisco Liriano to the Astros at the trade deadline.

Toronto took two of three from the Yankees in a home series this week.

The Pirates (57-58) won three of four against the Tigers and have won six of eight overall.

Schedule

Friday, 7:07 p.m. - Jameson Taillon (6-5, 4.60 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (10-5, 3.17), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Saturday, 1:07 p.m. - Trevor Williams (5-4, 4.17) vs. TBD, TV: AT&T SportsNet, MLB Network (out of market)

Sunday, 1:07 p.m. - Chad Kuhl (5-7, 4.53) vs. J.A. Happ (5-8, 3.77), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Blue Jays

54-60 (48-66 Pythag, 4.27 RS/G, 5.04 RA/G)

Offense

Even accounting for the departure of Edwin Encarnacion, this is a group that has underachieved, sitting 28th as a group in fWAR and 25 in the Major Leagues in runs scored. Justin Smoak (.296/.375/.584, 31 HR) is the standout here, which is surprising in more than one way. Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista have struggled. Tulowitzki recently got transferred to his natural habitat the 60-day disabled list. Miguel Montero, Dalton Pompey and Devon Travis are also on the shelf. Russell Martin and outfielder Kevin Pillar are standouts on defense. Martin remains a competent offensive catcher, at .227/.356/.387. Ezequiel Carrera (.302/.370/.451 in 242 PA) and another former Pirate, Steve Pearce (.267/.339/.465 in 245 PA), have been bright spots.

Pitching

The Blue Jays pitching staff ranks 11th in MLB as a group in fWAR, boosted by a bullpen that ranks sixth. Roberto Osuna (12.08 K/9, 0.94 BB/9) has been excellent. As I noted, Joe Smith, another good reliever, was shipped off to Cleveland. Marcus Stroman (7.45 K/9, 2.86 BB/9) is establishing himself as a top-of-the-line starter in the American League, his 2.6 fWAR ranking seventh among AL hurlers. J.A. Happ (8.44 K/9, 2.78 BB/9) has carried over his Pittsburgh teachings over in his second stint across the border.

Outlook

The Pirates are throwing what could be their best pitchers lately against the Blue Jays, especially if Jameson Taillon found something in the middle innings last Sunday against the Padres. Trevor Williams and Chad Kuhl are hot and could keep the Bucs in games in a hitters’ park, knock on wood.

Poll

How does this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Pirates sweep!
    (87 votes)
  • 47%
    2-1 Pirates
    (220 votes)
  • 25%
    2-1 Blue Jays
    (120 votes)
  • 8%
    Blue Jays sweep.
    (41 votes)
468 votes total Vote Now