Toronto Blue Jays Face Los Angeles Dodgers In Playoff Quest
The American League East race is jamming up tighter than a marching snare drum, with the Toronto Blue Jays in the thick of it after eking out a 4-3 road win on Sunday against the Seattle Mariners, avoiding being swept in that weekend series.
The Jays are heading into the Aug. 1 trade deadline with their share of roster questions. Toronto is in third place in the highly competitive East, with a 55-45 record, 6.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays remain in the wildcard mix, behind the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros.
This week, the Blue Jays open a three-game series in Los Angeles on Monday against the first-place Dodgers (57-41 in the National League West). The Dodgers the favourite on the moneyline at 1.91, while the underdog Jays are at 2.10, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Also, BetMGM Sportsbook has the moneyLine at Jays 2.10, Dodgers 1.75.
The Over-Under is 9 runs for the game at BetMGM.
Relief Pitcher Send Down To Tweak Breaking Ball
Somewhat surprisingly, the Jays optioned reliever Nate Pearson to Triple-A on Sunday, creating a spot for left-handed reliever Genesis Cabrera, acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
Pearson is a flame-throwing 6-foot-6, 250-pound right-hander who was being used more in high leverage situations, with a 5-2 record, 4.75 earned run average, and 1.17 walks and hits per innings pitched.
However, Pearson gave up six earned runs in the last two games. Sportsnet reported he’s being sent down to work on his breaking ball and will be back with the big club this season.
Bullpen Looks Strong
The Jays’ bullpen, a strength this season, is third in the league with 34 saves.
Relief pitcher Chad Green, coming back from Tommy John surgery, is set to pitch a rehab assignment in Dunedin, also according to Sportsnet.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is slated to return to the Jays any day now, after his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
With the Cabrera deal, and with how well their starters have performed this season, we’d be surprised if the Jays made any major trades to augment the pitching staff this week.
Bats Need To Come Around
The issue will come down to what the team ends up doing on the hitting front. Team average with runners in scoring position has been a challenge all season (a .245 average, 24th in the league, according to Baseball Reference).
Watching catcher Alejandro Kirk (5-foot-8, 245 pounds), not exactly the most nimble of MLB ballplayers, hitting into a double play in the eighth inning Friday night in that 3-2 loss to the Mariners was enough to drive Jays fans to reach for the remote control.
The Dodgers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, led by first baseman Freddie Freeman, the Canadian who’s having a monster season —.331 batting average (third in MLB), 20 home runs (18th) , 70 runs batted in (8th) and .997 on-base plus slugging (2nd).
On Monday, the Jays are sending out right-hander Jose Berrios, who’s having a solid season – 8-7 record, 3.39 ERA and 119.1 innings pitched (19th overall in MLB).
But the Orioles are the story in the AL East. Baltimore just took three of four games in a weekend series with the second-place Rays and are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
And don’t sleep on the Boston Red Sox — 53-47 overall, 6-4 in their last 10 and 8.5 games out of first place, two games behind the Blue Jays in the East. The Red Sox open a series against the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves Tuesday at Fenway Park in Boston.
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