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Know Your Enemy: Toronto Blue Jays

Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word

MLB: MAY 29 Blue Jays at Angels
Vladdy’s got a daddy who’s in the Hall of Fame.
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A middling series against the Cubs is over. The White Sox won the Crosstown Classic, 3-1, splitting the weekend series at home and sweeping at Wrigley. Now the South Siders are heading up to Toronto sans Kendall Graveman and Dylan Cease, and we’ll just see how things go.

2021 Toronto Blue Jays: 91-71 (4th in the AL East)

The Blue Jays split the season between Buffalo for the first chunk, and then back in Toronto as of July 30. Despite landing in fourth in the AL East, the Blue Jays had their best winning percentage since 2015 (but didn’t qualify for the postseason, as they fell one game behind the Red Sox and Yankees, both of whom secured AL Wild Cards).

Robbie Ray and his pants bounced back from a poor 2020 performance to win the Cy Young, and the likes of Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Alek Manoah performed well on a team of vets. Outside of Ray, pitching was questionable until the trade deadline acquisition of José Berríos, making for a tough rotation that also included Steve Matz and Hyun-Jin Ryu. A shaky bullpen didn’t make much of a difference, and if the Jays hadn’t been a part of the AL East it’s entirely possible they’d have gotten into the postseason (imagine winning 91 games and finishing in fourth place, outside of the playoffs). Depth played a big part of Toronto’s success, supplementing minor injuries with additional talent, which is what you want out of roster depth and your farm system.

2022 Blue Jays: How’s it going?

Right now, the Jays are third in the AL East, 5 12 games back from first (the evil Yankees), and hot on the heels of second (the not-so-Devil Rays). So what’s changed?

The Blue Jays and White Sox made one of my favorite transactions all offseason when they swapped Reese McGuire and Zack Collins (who has since been demoted to Triple-A).

George Springer is leading the Blue Jays in just about everything: batting average (.273), home runs (nine), RBIs (26), and OBP (.351). Bichette has Springer edged out on hits (50) as Springer “only” has 44.

Ray has since moved over to Seattle, so the Blue Jays has seen the other members of their pitching staff stepping it up. Alek Manoah is posting a 1.77 ERA while Kevin Gausman is striking out just about everyone.

Defensively, the addition of two-time Platinum Glove winner Matt Chapman from Oakland is making a huge difference. Toronto’s defense may not be as sexy as its offense, but as White Sox fans you might be aware, big defensive mistakes have cost teams plenty.

Pitching Matchups

Today will see Lucas Giolito face off against Gausman. Gausman is 4-3 this season with a 2.25 ERA and 65 strikeouts. Giolito is 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA, so this promises to be a fun matchup. The White Sox have all seen Gausman fairly well, collectively slashing .313/.382/.403 against him.

Wednesday is Michael Kopech vs. Ryu. Kopech’s ERA is a staggering 1.29 this season, over 42 innings. Ryu is posting a 5.48 with a 2-0 record over 23 innings. He’s started five games this season and is posting a 1.35 WHIP.

Thursday will be Johnny Cueto against Alex Manoah. Somehow Cueto’s ERA is only 2.41 despite getting kicked around a little in his last outing. Manoah has a 5-1 record and a 1.77 ERA. Everyone just cross your fingers, and we’ll get through it.

Why we hate them