The Toronto Blue Jays are unlikely to get in front of the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East. But if the Blue Jays wanted to make things interesting, their upcoming three-game series against Baltimore is crucial.
Toronto isn’t even a lock for an AL Wild Card spot. They’re fighting the Rays, Astros, Mariners, and Red Sox in the AL MLB standings 2023. That means two of those five teams will not make the postseason, despite likely finishing with a winning record.
That’s how the game goes sometimes.
On the other hand, the Orioles, projected to finish last in the AL East, are in first place and have the best record in the American League.
My statement above remains true.
Here’s a look at the Blue Jays vs Orioles series preview between two extremely competitive AL East opponents.
Location: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
The Blue Jays Are Healthy Again
The Blue Jays missed Bo Bichette. He was sidelined with an injury heading into August. He’s hit .319 and has been one of the true catalysts for the Blue Jays this season.
Meanwhile, George Springer missed multiple games with an injury. But he returned on Sunday, along with Danny Jansen, who missed a week of action.
All three were in the lineup for the Blue Jays on Sunday.
Bichette is sixth in the MLB with a .319 average. He’s also hit 17 home runs and 60 RBIs while hitting an OPS of .842. Bichette is also one of the MLB stats leaders against lefties, hitting a .366 average. The righty has also smacked a .309 average against righties.
But what stands out the most is his away splits. Bichette has done better on the road, hitting a .329 average with a .361 OBP. He’s smacked five more extra-base hits and has added ten more runs with 15 more hits.
The Blue Jays will be on the road in Baltimore.
On the other hand, George Springer didn’t miss much time. But Toronto can take a deep breath, knowing he’s okay. Springer has hit a .257 average with 14 home runs and 48 RBIs. However, in August, he hit above .300. If he keeps his average above .300 for the rest of August, this would be the first month he’d hit that milestone.
Lastly, Danny Jansen has only hit a .216 average this season. But in July, he finished with a .275 average and four home runs. He’s got the potential to be a significant contributor if he can get consistent reps again.
You Can’t Sweep The Orioles!
The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been swept in 79 consecutive series, dating back to 2022. The Orioles came away with another series win against the Athletics over the weekend and will look to hold onto that streak against the Blue Jays.
This feat might now sound too impressive. But only three other teams had achieved this before the Orioles.
The 1942-44 Cardinals weren’t swept in 125 straight series. The 1903-05 Giants weren’t swept in 106 consecutive series. And the final team was the Yankees in 1922-24. They didn’t get swept in 83 straight series.
The Orioles are inching closer to the 1922-24 Yankees. But no team in the modern era has ever come close to what the Orioles have accomplished.
Therefore, don’t expect Toronto to earn a sweep in this Blue Jays vs Orioles Series preview coming up.
⚾ Game 1 ⚾
Yusei Kikuchi vs Grayson Rodriguez
The Blue Jays will begin Game 1 of the series with a lefty. Yusei Kikuchi will take the hill for Toronto, and he’s been dominant.
Kikuchi has struck out over 27% of batters in the last 30 days and has held teams to a .045 ISO and wOBA of .240. He hasn’t always been this good. On the season, he’s allowed a .178 ISO and wOBA of . 318. He’s been tremendous, keeping walks down. Batters have only earned 4.2% of walks in the last 30 days against the lefty.
Kikuchi has added 51.2% of ground balls induced and has held teams to 16.2% of fly balls. That’s pure domination out of the left.
The Orioles have much power against lefties, but the projected lineup has hit just a .304 wOBA with only 6.5% of walks.
Kikuchi will face off against rookie pitcher Grayson Rodriguez. Rodriguez hasn’t earned a high rate of strikeouts in his second stint with the Orioles. But he’s held teams to a .049 ISO and wOBA of .211 in the last month. Rodriguez has earned over 56% of ground balls, has kept fly balls below 21%, and has allowed just 15.4% of line drives.
On the other hand, the Blue Jays haven’t performed all that well against righties. Brandon Belt and Danny Jansen have put up good numbers, but as I acknowledged earlier, Jansen sat out an entire week before returning to the diamond on Sunday. The projected lineup has struck out nearly 25% of the time against righties.
The oddsmakers believe this game will be tight. The Blue Jays are +108, while the Orioles are the slight favorites at home, sitting at -118. Meanwhile, the total is 8.0, with the over juiced to -115 after dropping from 8.5. I’d go with the Under for my MLB picks today.
⚾ Game 2 ⚾
Kevin Gausman vs Jack Flaherty
Kevin Gausman will get the ball in the second game of the series. Gausman has earned nearly 28% of strikeouts in the last month. However, teams have also hit a .227 ISO and wOBA of .344 against him. Righties have attacked him, hitting a .244 ISO and wOBA of .362 in those 30 days.
Gausman will face Jack Flaherty of the Orioles. Flaherty has been terrible against lefties this MLB season. Over the last month, he’s allowed a .349 ISO and wOBA of .454. However, the Blue Jays have few lefties they can rely on for offense.
Brandon Belt comes to mind, but nobody else in that Toronto order has done severe damage from the left side.
Neither team has lots of advantages against the starters in this game. Gausman has been bad against righties, and Flaherty struggles against lefties. But both MLB teams don’t have much offense to take advantage of.
If anything, I’d give the Orioles a slight advantage due to Ryan Mountcastle and Jordan Westburg’s power against other righties.
⚾ Game 3 ⚾
Jose Berrios vs Dean Kremer
Jose Berrios will be asked to take the mound in the final matchup. The right-hander has allowed a .163 ISO and wOBA of .328, which isn’t great, but also not terrible. He’s been a below-average pitcher in the last month, earning 22.2% of strikeouts.
Berrios has given up more fly balls than ground balls induced and has allowed 50% of hard contact against his last 117 batters.
Berrios will look to go toe-to-toe with Dean Kremer of the Orioles. Kremer has struck out under 19% of batters. But he’s allowed a .119 ISO and wOBA of .278 to his last 122 batters. Kremer has also thrown over 91 pitches per outing.
He’s also walked righties just 4.3% of the time. The Blue Jays will likely have more righties in the lineup against Kremer. If the Blue Jays can’t add many base runners, it will be a challenging game to win. I’d grab the Orioles in Game 3 to close out the Blue Jays vs Orioles series preview.
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