After the debacle that was the Blue Jays’ series against Houston at the beginning of August, and the recent two-loss home stand against division-leading Baltimore, Blue Jays fans are no doubt anticipating some surprises this weekend. Seattle’s August 11th blowout of the Jays, to the tune of an 11-1 final score, is another sign of Toronto’s volatility at this point in the season. It’s hard to say what team will show up this weekend in Chicago.
The season isn’t over, technically, for Chicago’s White Sox. But high drama between AL Central Division leaders Detroit and Kansas City overshadows any news coming out of Chicago’s US Cellular Field. The White Sox are currently 9 games behind the Tigers and Chiefs. Chicago’s bats have cooled significantly over the past couple of months, after a somewhat impressive start. With middle-of-the-pack stats across the board, Chicago seems unlikely to contend for a spot in the playoffs this year
At the other extreme, Toronto is a mere two games outside of a playoff spot as of this writing. With just 42 games left for Toronto this regular season, the Blue Jays need to start taking advantage of series against weaker teams like the ChiSox. Pulling ahead of Seattle, Detroit, and LA will require Toronto have the ability to take advantage of opportunities like the three game stand against Chicago this weekend.
Friday, August 15th
Likely starting pitchers: Stroman, TOR vs. Noesi, CHI
Much like the hitting prowess of the Blue Jays big bats, the pitching ability of Marcus Stroman has been touch and go. What looks like a pitching mismatch between an up-and-comer in Stroman and an also-ran in the Sox’ Noesi may be more even than casual fans imagine. Stroman pitches far worse this season on grass than he does on turf – in fact, Stroman’s ERA is more than 2 full points higher in games played on grass fields. If Stroman underperforms, this game comes down to a hitting battle.
Pick: Toronto by two or more runs.
Saturday, August 16th
Likely starting pitchers: Buehrle, TOR vs. Danks, CHI
Though Mark Buehrle is just 1-5 in his last ten starts, he’s due for a return to his Pre All-Star Game form, and historically over-performs against the Sox. John Danks, at his best, has been no match for Toronto’s offense. Assuming Buehrle is finally ready to turn his game around (say, to May and June levels) this is a close game.
Pick: Toronto by fewer than two runs.
Sunday, August 17
Likely starting pitchers: Hutchison, TOR vs. Sale, CHI
If Chicago has an advantage in any of the three games in this series, it’s the Sunday matinee featuring their brightest pitching star, Chris Sale, against Toronto’s struggling Hutchison. Sale is 1-0 in seven innings pitched against Toronto this season, so there isn’t much history to work with in terms of his ability against the Jays’ hot-and-cold bats. Hutchison has allowed seven runs in his last fourteen innings.
Pick: Chicago by two or more runs.