White Sox start six game road trip with stop in Toronto. The Blue Jays struggled to start season, but have climbed back in American League East race.
The White Sox were able to win their first series since May 28 on Thursday with a 5-2 victory over the struggling Baltimore Orioles. With the win, the Sox improved their record to 29-36 and will begin a six game road trip on Friday night in Toronto.
With the Sox coming off a series victory, they will face a team in the Blue Jays that struggled mightily to start this season. Toronto began this season with an abysmal 6-17 record as they were looking to repeat as American League East champions. With the loss of Edwin Encarnacion to free agency and injuries to Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays offense weren’t able to produce many runs early this season.
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Although the Blue Jays have recently gotten back most of its power from last season in Donaldson and Tulowitzki, they still rank in the bottom half of MLB offensively. Toronto ranks 25th overall in offense and have scored 278 runs. The Sox rank 20th in total offense with 295 runs scored. Despite a lack of runs scored for Toronto, they have still hit home runs well as they have 90 on the season compared to the Sox 72 thus far.
The Blue Jays clearly aren’t the same team offensively as they’ve been in the past, but they’ve played better baseball recently. After starting the season 6-17, the Blue Jays have climbed back in to AL East race with a 32-33 record. Toronto is 6.5 games behind the AL East leading New York Yankees.
Toronto is led offensively by Justin Smoak. The first baseman leads the Blue Jays in batting average (.293), home runs (18), RBIs (43) and on-base percentage (.353). Smoak has had a surprising start for the Blue Jays, but this team most likely won’t be carried by the veteran slugger offensively. Without Encarnacion, Toronto is missing another big bat in their lineup this season.
Jose Bautista who hit .234 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs in 114 games last season, is off to a somewhat slow start for Toronto. Through 65 games this season, Bautista is hitting .232 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs. Bautista is tied for 28th in the AL in home runs, and is third on the Blue Jays. Kendrys Morales was signed in the offseason as a replacement for Encarnacion and has a .254 batting average with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs for Toronto.
While the Blue Jays offense is struggling to score runs consistently, Toronto’s pitching has been solid thus far this season. The Blue Jays pitching ranks 11th in MLB with a 4.16 ERA. Toronto’s starter ERA is ranked 12th in MLB with a 4.36 ERA. The Sox starter’s ERA is 22nd with a 4.81 ERA. Leading the Blue Jays staff is Marcus Stroman. Stroman leads Toronto in wins (7) and ERA (3.09).
The Blue Jays will start Stroman on Saturday against the Sox. Stroman is 7-2 this season and has two complete games for Toronto. In his career, Stroman is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA against the Sox in four starts.
On Friday, the Blue Jays will start Joe Biagini. The Sox will send Jose Quintana to the mound against Toronto. Biagini is 1-5 with a 3.38 ERA for the Blue Jays this season. This is the first season Biagini has started and he’s done a good job limiting walks as he has only allowed 12 thus far. He will make his eighth start of 2017 against the Sox.
While the Blue Jays starting rotation has been solid, their bullpen has done an adequate job this season. Toronto ranks 11th in reliever ERA at 3.86. The Blue Jays full-time closer Roberto Osuna is tied for fifth in MLB with 17 saves. Since blowing consecutive saves against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 25 and 27, Osuna has recorded 14 straight saves for the Blue Jays. Last season, Osuna recorded 36 saves and in 2015 he had 20 saves for Toronto.
Last season, the Sox swept the Blue Jays in Toronto for the first time since 2005. The Sox might not sweep the Blue Jays this season at the Rogers Centre, but they will look to win their second consecutive series this weekend. With the Sox welcoming back James Shields to the rotation on Sunday, they could very well steal two wins against the Blue Jays.