For Toronto fans and those betting baseball, the Blue Jays splitting four games at Tampa Bay was a mild disappointment, the fact it should not have been given their dismal record in Clearwater.
As the defending AL East champions, Toronto is again favored to repeat in spite of serious questions about their starting pitching. One of their closest pursuers or someone who could surpass them in the minds of many making MLB picks is Boston, with a retooled roster (again) and having taking away something the Jays coveted, David Price, it is now game on.
Because the schedule worked out this way, Marcus Stroman (1-0, 3.37 ERA) will be making his second start already while Joe Kelly is making his 2016 debut. Stroman is now the anchor of Blue Jays staff and 5’8 24-year old relishes the opportunity. What Stroman lacks in stature he makes in talent with dynamic arm, featuring a lively fastball that will hit the mid-90’s and killer slider with great late break and depth. He has five pitches he trusts and will use on any count.
Kelly is taking over for Rick Porcello as scheduled starter. Kelly has ace-quality stuff, which is built around two and four-seam fastballs that average 94 to 97 MPH. The two-seamer is the better pitch since it has very good sinking action, with his four-seamer the strikeout pitch. His 10-6 record was good (Boston 13-12 in all starts), but his 4.82 ERA and 1.44 WHIP were not, lacking command and still trying to find third pitch to work through batting order a third time.
The Red Sox with the rainout in Cleveland yesterday, ended scoring six runs each in two games against what is considered an outstanding Cleveland staff. Brock Holt, Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz have started as hot as you can for two games and for Boston to win this series and take the opening game, they must take advantage of any Stroman miscues or those the Jays relievers make.
Toronto scored 3.7 runs a game at Tropicana Field, which is not indicative of the offense which was the best in baseball at year. At Rogers Centre, this team averaged 5.6 RPG last season and at 1-6 in the batting order is as tough as any in baseball. Since they will miss Price this series, no reason to think the Jays will not get good swings the entire series and against Kelly, who has a 5.52 ERA versus Toronto.