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Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays series preview

Something something circumstances, something something boots, something something, shaking.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What word comes to mind when you think of the Toronto Blue Jays? Annoying? Whining? Circumstances? Boot-shaking? Right now, it might be pity, because they are off to an awful start to the season. And as much as I dislike the Blue Jays, especially after their annoying, circumstances whining during the ALCS last season, baseball is better when good baseball teams are good.

The Blue Jays currently sit as American League East basement dwellers while the New York Yankees ride a young core of players to a 20-9 record. See, that’s another reason you should feel bad for the Jays right now — if they were better, maybe Yankees fans would be sadder. That’s another thing that makes baseball better.

Don’t expect Michael Brantley to play much, if at all, in this series. The outfielder suffered a sprained ankle on Sunday and manager Terry Francona said after the game that he will be out a “day or two”. There’s no reason to rush him back.

Pitching matchups

Monday, 7:07 p.m. ET: Marcus Stroman (RHP) vs. Trevor Bauer (RHP)

Marcus Stroman is a ground ball machine, and he’s right along his career average with a 60.5 percent ground ball rate in 2017. His last outing was his worst of the season — three innings, five earned runs, off six hits against the Yankees. Prior to that he struck out 10 Tampa Bay Rays batters in 7.1 innings.

With Mike Clevinger’s brilliant Sunday start fresh in the minds of everyone, Trevor Bauer will have a short leash before fans are calling for him to be moved to the bullpen. The Cleveland Indians won’t listen, because they have no reason to, but I can’t imagine they are that far behind in thinking that Clevinger might be an upgrade over the frustratingly inconsistent Bauer. He was rocked for seven runs in last start against the Detroit Tigers.

Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET: TBA (Mike Bolsinger (RHP)) vs. Carlos Carrasco (RHP)

This would have been Mat Latos’s spot, but the Blue Jays designated him for assignment after his last start. Instead, it’ll be Mike Bolsinger getting the start, according to Sports Net. The Blue Jays have not made a formal announcement yet, though.

Bolsinger, 29, last pitched in the majors for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016; he’s been with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A team to start 2017. After a surprisingly good 21 starts in 2015, he imploded in 2016, finishing with a 6.83 ERA and 5.82 FIP over six starts.

Carlos Carrasco is really good, you don’t need me to remind you. He struck out five Detroit Tigers batters his last time out, holding the Motor City Kitties to two runs over six innings.

Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. ET: Francisco Liriano (LHP) vs. Danny Salazar (RHP)

In 20 years, when Francisco Liriano will be 53 and long retired, there will still be a radio personality picking him as their dark horse to win the Cy Young Award. That’s just about as crazy as doing it this season, but multiple disembodied voices on MLB Network Radio did just that prior to the season. Their prediction has not gone well.

Liriano has been a perfectly fine fourth or fifth starter, with a 4.44 ERA and roughly five innings a start, but — surprise! — he still walks too many batters to be considered a great pitcher. He’s issued free bases 16 percent of the time this season, and a little over one home run per nine innings.

Danny Salazar lasted just 4.2 innings in his last start against the Kansas City Royals, but he only allowed two runs. If that isn’t the most Danny Salazar thing in the world, I don’t know what is.

Storylines

Familiar faces and familiar places for Edwin Encarnacion

It didn’t seem like the Blue Jays tried all that hard to bring back Edwin Encarnacion. To be fair, they made him a very reasonable deal to start the offseason, but when he declined they quickly replaced him with Kendrys Morales. Now would be the perfect time for Edwin to turn it on and make the Jays regret not holding out a little longer to bring him back.

Who will Jose Bautista blame for his ineffectiveness this time?

The umpires? Wind inside a domed stadium? Rougned Odor?

A Michael Brantley-less outfield is a scary thing

Michael Brantley has been healthy, and pretty damn effective, in the first month of the season. But now, with a right ankle sprain sidelining him for at least the first game, we’ll get a glimpse of the dilapidated outfield we thought we were getting all season long. We’ll all appreciate Doctor Smooth a little bit more after this series.

Upcoming schedule

The Indians wrap up their road trip in Canada, then return home to face the Minnesota Twins, Rays, and Houston Astros.

Toronto Blue Jays roster

Poll

How many games will the Indians win against the Blue Jays?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    3
    (46 votes)
  • 62%
    2
    (117 votes)
  • 7%
    1
    (15 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (10 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now