Jul 31, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; Texas Rangers second baseman Omar Quintanilla (12) cannot get Toronto Blue Jays shortstop John McDonald (6) as he steals second base in the 2nd inning at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Rangers 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays


Another series, another AL East team as Texas heads to international waters to face off against the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto is two games back of Baltimore and Tampa Bay for first spot in the division and a half game behind the Yankees. Toronto was a popular sleeper pick for that second Wild Card, but will need to step it up as they have three teams that can beat them in their own division.

Also, you may be wondering why the games start two minutes later than usual. There is a reason: The game being played in Canada means there needs to be a second national anthem that runs, you guessed it, approximately two minutes. Now, you know.

Probable Starters:

Monday 6:07 CDT TEX: RHP Yu Darvish (3-0, 2.42 ERA/3.06 FIP) – TOR: RHP Kyle Drabek (2-1, 2.25 ERA/5.24 FIP)

Darvish is making his first start since his best start as a Major Leaguer and it is his first start in Canada. Will his stuff be as electric? Will his command be as stellar? Tune in to find out!

Drabek has bounced back admirably after a horrible 2011 campaign. The crown jewel of the Roy Halladay trade, Drabek was sent to AAA last year and pitched pretty horribly at both levels, but seems to have regained his prospect status with his start so far. However, the numbers aren’t all that impressive. His FIP is very high and his LOB% is bound to fall which will lead to more runs being scored. It is still better than he was last year, so the improvement is still notable.

Tuesday 6:07 CDT TEX: RHP Neftali Feliz (1-1, 3.00 ERA/4.14 FIP) – TOR: RHP Drew Hutchison (1-0, 6.10 ERA/5.75 FIP)

Feliz is back in the rotation after an off-day and rain out allowed for him to skip a turn. He had his bullpen day on the mound against the Yankees, and should pick up from where he left off in his last start against Justin Verlander. He is still young and will have some ups and downs, but as a fifth starter, he’s going to have the rope to play with.

Hutchison will make only his third start above AA and all of them have come in the Majors. He is one of the many young pitchers Toronto has in their organization and has so far shown that he has talent but may not be ready for prime time. His second start, however, was better than his first even though he picked up a no-decision. He went five innings giving up two runs and six hits while walking only one against Baltimore.

Wednesday 11:37 CDT TEX: LHP Matt Harrison (3-1, 3.38 ERA/3.28 FIP) – TOR: LHP Ricky Romero (3-0, 3.18 ERA/3.98 FIP)

I had said that Harrison was bound for regression, and now his numbers are almost league average everywhere he was due for some. That means that Harrison is right around where he should be, and the Rangers will take three good starts out of four. On a side note, how awesome is Baseball Brunch?

After CC Sabathia and David Price, another left-handed ace for the Rangers to face. Romero is a lot like the Rangers starters – not really known outside of where he plays but Romero is another great LHP in the American League East. Romero has a miniscule .215 BABIP but along with a drop in K/9, it may be that he is inducing more weak contact instead of strike outs. It is something to watch for as the season progresses.

Projected Toronto Lineup

1 SS Yunel Escobar
2 2B Kelly Johnson (L)
3 RF Jose Bautista
4 DH Edwin Encarnacion
5 1B Adam Lind (L)
6 3B Brett Lawrie
7 CF Colby Rasmus (L)
8 LF Eric Thames (L) vs RHP // Rajai Davis vs LHP
9 C J.P. Arencibia

(source MLBDepthCharts)

Hot/Cold (Last 7 Days)

Eric Thames (Hot-TOR) .429/.478/.762 (9/21), 2 HR, 2 RBI
Edwin Encarnacion (Hot-TOR) .280/.345/.720 (7/25), 3 HR, 7 RBI
Yunel Escobar (Cold-TOR) 4/28 (.143), 1 2B, 4 K
Jose Bautista (Cold-TOR) 4/27 (.148), 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K
Elvis Andrus (Hot-TEX) .333/.417/.381 (7/21), 4 R, 2 RBI
Josh Hamilton (Hot-TEX) 6/19 (.316/.435/.632) 2 HR, 8 RBI
Yorvit Torrealba (Cold-TEX) 1/11 (.091), 3 K
Michael Young (Cold-TEX) 3/23 (.130), 1 RBI, 3 K

For more information on the Rays see Fansided’s Blue Jays page, Jays Journal.

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Tags: Drew Hutchison Kyle Drabek Matt Harrison Neftali Feliz Ricky Romero Texas Rangers Toronto Blue Jays Yu Darvish