ASTROS @ BLUE JAYS
July 6-9, 2017
The All-Star Break looms. With an assemblage of Astros in the game and no more “This Time It Counts” bullshit I suppose I’ll watch.
What happened in the last series?
The Astros (58-27) punished the Braves again in a two-game series, outscoring them 26-8. Ho hum.
The Blue Jays (39-45) just took two out of three from the Yankees in the Bronx. Prior to that Toronto hadn’t won a series since playing the Mariners about a month ago. The Jays aren’t as terrible as they were to start the season but they still occupy the AL East cellar (although the sinking Orioles are providing some close company now). Houston will be facing an average pitching staff and an offense that is well below average.
Thursday, July 6 – 6:07pm CDT
Lance McCullers Jr. (7-1, 2.69) vs. Francisco Liriano (4-4, 5.66)
LMJ battled through 5.1 tough innings against the Yankees, a game which got out of hand very quickly once the bullpen took over. He only has one career start against the Blue Jays, taking a loss last year in 4.2 innings of work while giving up two runs on seven hits.
Liriano hasn’t been able to consistently reproduce the success he had with the Jays after the trade deadline last year. Although he finished April with an ERA just under 4, two starts later he was on the DL with an ERA over 6. He’s been in the mid/upper 5’s ever since returning in June, and most recently allowed five runs to the Red Sox over six innings. He had one start against the Astros last year, giving up five runs in 5.2 innings.
Friday, July 7 – 6:07pm CDT
Charlie Morton (5-3, 4.06) vs. Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 3.33)
This is the “back from the DL” game as both pitchers are making their first starts since the month of May.
Specifically, Morton hasn’t pitched since May 24 when he last seven innings and took a no-decision against the Tigers. Just a handful of Blue Jays players have batted against him, totaling 14×57 with six walks and 16 strikeouts.
Sanchez hasn’t pitched since May 19 and has only made five starts all season, returning from his third DL stint thanks to finger issues (blister, laceration, and a split fingernail). Obviously what little work he’s had this year has been pretty decent. He’s also done decent work against the Astros in recent years: in two starts between 2015 and 2016 he combined for 15 innings and a 1.80 ERA.
Saturday, July 8 – 12:07pm CDT
Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.80) vs. Marcus Stroman (8-5, 3.42)
Fiers only lasted four innings against the Yankees despite not giving up any runs. In two starts against the Jays last season he was 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA.
Stroman has been Toronto’s most reliable start in 2017, both in terms of health and performance. He usually makes it through six innings, 11 of his 17 starts are quality starts, and he has already thrown two complete games this year (one of which was a loss). Most recently he held the Yankees to two runs over five innings and took the loss. Last year he pitched very well against the Astros, with a 1.35 ERA and 21 strikeouts in two starts.
Sunday, July 9 – 12:07pm CDT
Brad Peacock (6-1, 2.91) vs. J.A. Happ (3-5, 3.47)
Peacock turned in his second quality start of the season against the Braves on Tuesday while walking only two. He has not faced the Blue Jays since 2012.
Mr. Happy’s favorite pitcher missed half of April and almost all of May with a sore elbow. Since his return he’s thrown five quality starts in six games and just held the Yankees to one run over six innings. He’s had mixed results against modern Astros teams: last year he only allowed one run in six innings, but in three starts against Houston in 2015 he was 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA.