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Know Your Enemy: Toronto Blue Jays

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There’s a joke somewhere about going from Florida to Canada

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

It’s 2021, and the Blue Jays are officially home in Toronto. This is much to their fans’ relief and everyone else’s disappointment because Astroturf is always worse than real grass. Also, if South Park is to be believed, all of their fans have weird flapping heads.

Last Time

The White Sox took two out of three in the last series between these teams in Chicago. Andrew Vaughn was the hero against Robbie Ray when he homered and then hit the tiebreaking sac fly, which broke open the eight inning to give the White Sox the lead. The next game was taken by the Blue Jays, and the White Sox looked like they didn’t know how to play baseball. Between a shaky bullpen and a bad defense, the White Sox lost the lead and then the game when the Blue Jays scored three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth.

The White Sox took the final game of the homestand, with Dallas Keuchel going through six innings and Yasmani Grandal homering to help the South Siders take the series. Keuchel struck out eight and walked two and limited the Blue Jays to two runs on six hits. Evan Marshall and Codi Heuer helped the White Sox keep the lead, and Liam Hendriks closed things out.

How’s it going

The Blue Jays are trying to put together a surge to get into the Wild Card and are sitting five games back from Oakland. They’re fourth in the AL East and 11.5 games back from first. The White Sox dropped two in a row to the Rays, so they’re looking to bounce back during the road trip before returning home to face the Iowa Cubs, so expect them to play with a sense of urgency.

Post All-Star break, the Blue Jays were slashing .264/.329/.474. However, in the last seven days they’ve dropped to .234/.320/.404, ranking 14th out of 30 teams.

The Blue Jays are 3-7 in their last 10 and 32-26 at home, while they’re 11-9 against AL Central teams. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is leading in all their batting categories: average (.309), home runs (36), RBI (89), OBP (.405), and hits (138). On the pitching side, Hyun-jin Ryu is leading in wins (10) while Robbie Ray leads in ERA (2.79) and strikeouts (178).

There is a chance to face George Springer, who was still on the 10-day IL as of August 22 with a knee issue. He was seen hitting in the cage and on the field on Sunday, so it’s possible he may make an appearance during the series.

Pitching matchups

Today is going to see Lance Lynn facing off against Alek Manoah. Lynn is 10-3 this season with a 2.26 ERA. He’s 2-0 in his last seven games and 1-1 in his last five against the Blue Jays. Lynn is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA while on the road.

Manoah is 5-2 this season with a 3.34 ERA over 62 innings. In his last seven starts he’s 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA. He’s faced the White Sox once, during the June series, to a no-decision and 1.80 ERA. Manoah is 3-0 at home with a 1.91 ERA. He relies on four pitches: a 4-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and changeup.

Tuesday is Dylan Cease vs. José Berríos. Cease has bene quietly having a better season than we’ve seen in previous years, posting a 9-6 record over 103 23 innings with a 4.06 ERA. He’s 2-2 over his last seven starts with a 3.96 ERA and has never faced Toronto as a starter. However, on the road Cease is 4-4 with a 5.86 ERA, so he still needs to get a handle on pitching on the road.

Berríos has tormented the White Sox while on the Twins so it’s (not) fun to see him in a different uniform. Berríos is 8-6 this season with a 3.52 ERA over 143 innings. In his last seven starts he’s 1-3 with a 3.92 ERA, which is promising for the White Sox this week. Berríos is 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA against the White Sox, having last faced them in July prior to the trade deadline when he was still on the Twins. He relies on four pitches: curveball, sinker, 4-seam fastball, and changeup.

Wednesday is Lucas Giolito vs. Robbie Ray. Giolito is 9-9 this season over 148 innings with a 3.77 ERA. In his last seven starts he’s 2-3 with a 2.86 ERA and in the three times he’s faced the Blue Jays (in 2019) he’s 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA. On the road, Giolito is 5-3 with a 3.77 ERA.

Ray and his super tight pants are back to face the White Sox. He’s 9-5 this season with a 2.79 ERA. In his last seven starts he’s 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA over 44 23 innings. He’s faced the White Sox once during the June series and received a no-decision. Ray relies on five pitches: a 4-seam fastball, slider, curveball, changeup, and sinker. He’s 5-3 at home with a 2.64 ERA.

Thursday is TBD vs. Hyun-jin Ryu. Ryu is 12-6 with a 3.54 ERA over 140 innings. He’s 4-1 in his last seven starts and 0-1 against the White Sox, having faced them in June giving up five hits and one home run. Ryu is 6-2 at home with a 3.74 ERA and has six pitches in his arsenal: a 4-seam fastball, a changeup, a cutter, a curveball, a slider, and a sinker.

Why we still hate them