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Toronto Blue Jays Series Preview: They’ve rebuilt and come back since the Royals last winning season

Maybe it was more of a reset, but the Blue Jays have shown you can rebuild a lot quicker than what we’ve seen here.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays have built a really good team, plain and simple. They are built to hit, even though the offense hasn’t scored as well as they probably should. But they can also catch the ball and they have a pretty solid pitching staff. It’s a well-rounded team that doesn’t have the benefit of a weak division like anyone trying to run away in a division like the AL Central, so every game is of the utmost importance to them. They’ve gotten outstanding production from their catching spot while George Springer has been quite good and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been very good again, though not as good as last year. But where they’re missing out on some big production is out of Bo Bichette, who has been fine, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. But they’ve gotten some outstanding performances out of their rotation and while some might not keep it up, I find it hard to believe that Jose Berrios will continue to be as bad as he has, so he should make up for some of the regression. And they’ve got a relatively deep bullpen with a good closer to get it done and keep some leads from slipping away.

Royals vs. Blue Jays Matchup Stats

Category Royals Blue Jays
Category Royals Blue Jays
Winning % .327 .585
Team wRC+ 90 108
Team xFIP 4.70 3.75
Run Differential -81 10
Highest fWAR Andrew Benintendi, 1.3 Kevin Gausman, 2.8

Blue Jays Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
George Springer CF 205 .279 .348 .536 7.8% 21.0% 148 1.8
Bo Bichette SS 236 .252 .297 .423 5.9% 24.2% 104 0.9
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B 219 .253 .342 .474 11.0% 17.4% 129 0.9
Teoscar Hernandez RF 123 .221 .285 .372 6.5% 25.2% 87 0.3
Alexander Kirk DH 162 .307 .389 .471 12.3% 8.6% 147 1.6
Matt Chapman 3B 202 .215 .307 .373 10.4% 24.8% 97 0.9
Santiago Espinal 2B 200 .279 .340 .430 8.5% 17.5% 119 1.6
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF 189 .247 .312 .347 7.4% 17.5% 90 0.1
Danny Jansen C 58 .241 .293 .648 5.2% 17.2% 164 0.7

Blue Jays Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Raimel Tapia OF 158 .243 .276 .311 4.4% 20.3% 66 -0.5
Cavan Biggio INF/OF 56 .159 .339 .227 17.9% 33.9% 80 0.1
Bradley Zimmer OF 62 .109 .197 .218 4.8% 41.9% 19 -0.3

Blue Jays Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Jordan Romano 22 20.1 1 2 29.4% 8.2% 3.10 3.20 0.4
Yimi Garcia 22 21.0 0 3 21.7% 6.0% 3.00 3.99 0.2
Adam Cimber 26 23.2 6 2 19.3% 4.5% 2.28 3.85 0.1

Royals vs. Blue Jays Probable Pitchers

June 6 - RHP Ross Stripling vs. LHP Daniel Lynch, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Ross Stripling 13 32.0 1 1 21.0% 5.8% 4.22 3.51 0.5
Daniel Lynch 9 43.0 2 4 19.6% 10.1% 4.81 4.97 0.3

Every staff needs a guy like Ross Stripling. Outside of a tough go in 2020 (and really, who didn’t have a tough go in 2020?), he’s been anywhere between pretty good and slightly below average while basically filling whatever role is needed of him. He’s made at least five relief appearances and at least 10 starts in every year of his career but 2020, which probably wouldn’t even be possible in 60 games and 2017. He’s in the rotation now with Hyun Jin Ryu on the shelf and has, once again, been solid. His fastball isn’t blazing and he can get in trouble with it because he doesn’t top out at much more than 93 MPH, so that’s been part of what’s brought it to allow a .553 SLG. But he’s throwing his changeup more and it’s been very, very good and while he’s allowed a .323 average on his slider, that’s come without a single extra base hit allowed. Because he doesn’t use that changeup as much against righties, he does have reverse platoon splits, though.

Career vs. KC: 2 G, 1 GS, 6.1 IP, 2-0, 2.84 ERA


Daniel Lynch needs to find a way to get back to the way he was pitching earlier in the year when his four-seam fastball was getting the job done at the top of the zone. In his last three starts, he has an ERA of 8.31 with 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 13 innings. My opinion is that it’s the baseball gods punishing Dayton Moore for mentioning him in relation to Cal Eldred, but the reality is that he just isn’t getting it done with his fastball. The good news is it’s not getting hit for power, but he’s just getting whiffs on 17.3 percent of swings. In his first six starts, that number was 22.7 percent. A lot of it is location. He’s just getting too much of the middle of the plate with it. And if that keeps up against a lineup like Toronto’s, he’s going to find himself in big trouble and probably exiting the game a lot sooner than he’d like. A good lefty changeup has been trouble for this Blue Jays lineup. Lynch’s slider is important, yes, but if he can get his changeup working, he has a shot to get the job done.

Career vs. TOR: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 0-1, 4.50 ERA

June 7 - RHP Alek Manoah vs. RHP Brad Keller, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Alek Manoah 10 63.2 6 1 23.0% 4.0% 1.98 3.68 1.5
Brad Keller 10 60.2 1 6 13.1% 7.1% 4.15 4.43 0.4

While some in the Royals organization preach patience with young starting pitching, those like Alek Manoah can make that difficult given that he was a first round pick for them in 2019 and is now putting up the numbers he is in his second year. And he was very good last year as well. He uses his fastball and his slider the most and both pitches do a great job of getting whiffs for him and both have been great for him in general. His slider isn’t a big spinner, but it’s got some movement that really fools hitters. He’s found some trouble with the changeup this year with a couple of home runs allowed, but it’s easy to see from the numbers that there simply hasn’t been much trouble in general. He’s only made one start that he hasn’t finished at least six innings, which is very impressive. And while he’s allowed more than two runs in a start just three times, two of the three are in his last two starts. Of course, three is his high for the year, so that’s also fantastic.

Career vs. KC: 1 GS, 7.0 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA


Brad Keller has had to gut it out a little bit over his last few starts, but what he’s doing well is generally giving the Royals some innings. He has a 6.67 ERA in his last five starts, but he’s gone at least 5.2 innings in four of the five, so there is some value in that. Still, he has just 14 strikeouts and 10 walks in those 29.2 innings over the last five, and that’s simply not good enough. His slider is pretty clearly his best pitch, but he hasn’t been featuring it as much lately, instead using his fastball. But he’s struggled to get the fastball where he wants it, which has caused him some problems, similar to Lynch. Where he might be able to find some success against the Blue Jays is in how right-handed heavy they are and he has some pretty big platoon splits, so even though they do have a couple lefties they can platoon, they run very right-handed.

Career vs. TOR: 6 G, 4 GS, 22.2 IP, 2-2, 5.96 ERA

June 8 - LHP Yusei Kikuchi vs. RHP Brady Singer, 1:10pm (YouTube game)

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Yusei Kikuchi 10 46.0 2 2 25.1% 12.1% 3.91 4.06 0.2
Brady Singer 7 30.1 2 1 24.6% 3.3% 4.15 2.65 0.4

When the Blue Jays signed Yusei Kikuchi as a free agent before the season, there were a lot of whispers that maybe they can do with him what they did with Robbie Ray last year. He has almost completely scrapped his cutter that he threw a lot last year and is throwing way more four-seam fastballs. He’s also throwing his slider a fair amount more. The results have kind of been mixed, but even though he’s coming off one of his worst starts of the year, you can kind of see things working. He walked 18.1 percent of batters in April and also struck out 18.1 percent of batters. But since then, he’s walked 8.7 percent and struck out 29.1 percent. And he has a 3.16 ERA in that time. No, it’s not Cy Young worthy like Ray was last year, but that’s a pretty big turnaround with his control that was such a big problem. All that said, Kikuchi has been dominant against lefties and righties have given him a fair amount of trouble. I wouldn’t be opposed to stacking that lineup as much as the Royals can.

Career vs. KC: 4 GS, 19.0 IP, 0-2, 7.58 ERA


Brady Singer has a couple things on his mind in this start. The first is coming back from his rough start against Houston on Friday where he gave up three home runs and had his first bad outing since his recall. But also, he was drafted by the Blue Jays in the second round in 2015 before deciding to go to college instead. After his start on Friday, Mike Matheny mentioned that while Singer’s stuff was good and his slider in particular that he had a little trouble getting to the slider, but I think that’s silly. It was fantastic against the Astros and he needs to use it against a Blue Jays lineup that has some similarities. Sliders in sinker counts can be very effective and I believe he needs to take advantage of that. His changeup will be less of a focus against this particular lineup due to how righty-heavy it is.

Career vs. TOR: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA

Royals vs. Blue Jays Prediction

Come on. The Royals did win a game, but you know what I’m predicting here. Do I honestly have to tell you? Fine. Blue Jays sweep.

Poll

How does the series go for the Royals against the Blue Jays?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Amazing. It’s a Royals sweep!
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    They get their fourth series win of the year, but still drop one game.
    (4 votes)
  • 39%
    They lose the series, but don’t get swept, grabbing one win.
    (69 votes)
  • 53%
    They lose everything, including the last bit of dignity they have and get swept.
    (92 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now