Blue Jays interleague series preview

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Brewers travel to Canada for a short two game interleague series against the heavy hitting Blue Jays. Whose offense will prevail?

The Blue Jays are similar to the Rockies in that they live and die by their offense, though their pitching isn't near as bad. They have scored 4.67 runs per game (4th best in MLB) and allowed 4.31 runs per game (12th most). They are tied for 1st with a 111 wRC+. Toronto's offense worries me a lot more than the Rockies did because they don't have Coors Field padding their stats.

The Blue Jays also lead baseball in home runs. It's no surprise as they have Edwin Encarnacion (MLB leader) and Jose Bautista. But Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, and Juan Francisco all also have double digit home runs.

Of the 9 players with the most plate appearances, only two hit under 100 wRC+. Of those nine players, 5 have hit for above 120 wRC+ (though Juan Francisco has cooled off considerably the last 30 days). However, Brett Lawrie was recently put on the disabled list and Jose Bautista has been dealing with a hamstring issue.

The Blue Jays bullpen has been a mixed bag, but they do have some pretty good relievers. Closer Casey Janssen, who missed much of the season due to injury, has been pretty excellent since returning. Aaron Loup is solid too. Todd Redmond is having a really good season, but they seem to be using him infrequently as their long man. Chad Jenkins, Sergio Santos, and Dustin McGown round out the 6 man bullpen rather poorly as each has been pretty ineffective this year.

Tuesday July 1st, 12:07 pm CT: Marco Estrada vs Drew Hutchinson

Hutchinson has been pretty mediocre. His ERA- and FIP- are both 99. That's about as close to average as it gets. His 20.3 K% and 7.5 BB%, .247 BAA, 1.27 WHIP, 1.07 HR/9 have resulted in a 4.00 ERA which is very close to his 3.95 FIP and 4.01 xFIP. It's not often I see a guy who is basically pitching as "well" as his peripherals say he should. He throws the pretty classic combo of fastball, slider, and change-up.

Of note for the Brewers: Marco Estrada in an American League game against the team leading baseball in home runs. Sounds like a bad combination.

Wednesday July 2nd, 1:37 pm CT: Wily Peralta vs J.A. Happ

Happ has been a good deal worse than Hutchinson. He's striking out 19.9% of batters faced and walking 10.5%. He's also struggling with home runs (1.25 HR/9). His real issue is his .279 BAA. Batters are teeing off against him. It ranks 12th worst in baseball among starters with at least 60 innings pitched. Combined with his BB% his 1.57 WHIP is tied for 8th worst.

Of note for the Brewers: Happ is a lefty, but oddly enough he's been worse against left-handed hitting the past two years. Perhaps the Brewers will start Scooter Gennett in hopes of that continuing?

Conclusion

I really don't like the pitching match-up in game 1 and I really love the pitching match-up in game 2. Estrada has pitched better recently so I don't think a two game sweep isn't out of the question. Lawrie is out and Juan Francisco hasn't been great lately. Jose Bautista might sit for one or both games as well. No one should ever cheer for an injury, but it's baseball and I'll take a win any way it wants to come the Brewers way. My best guess is a 1-1 split though.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs

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