The home opener. A perennial sellout at Rogers Centre even in the lean years of the not so distant past. Hopes and dreams for what the season may hold are still fresh and (mostly) optimistic. The Blue Jays aren’t off to the best start, but as you may have heard often, the season is long and there’s lots of time left to turn things around. That is exactly what the team hopes to do during their first home stand of the season.
This two-game series with the Brewers of Milwaukee will be a quick jaunt of inter-league play usually reserved for mid-season. The Brewers have been a middling team in the NL Central for many years and may be just what the doctor ordered for the sluggish Blue Jays.
Meetings on the Mound
J.A. Happ is coming off a strong start six days ago against the Orioles where he went 7.0 innings and struck out an impressive 9 batters. He gave up only 5 hits in the game but unfortunately, two of them were long balls. He’ll have to keep the home runs in check while still being aggressive against the Brewers offense.
In his last start, Wily Peralta picked up the win against the Colorado Rockies. He pitched 5.0 innings of shutout ball, only surrendering 3 hits while striking out 5 batters. Peralta is both strong and consistent. The hard-throwing righty has a fastball that hits the mid to upper nineties and he keeps the ball down in the zone inducing a high percentage of ground ball outs.
Fan favorite Marcus Stroman takes the hill for game two of the series. At his best, Stroman is a lights-out starter who is animated, fearless and gritty. At times he can be inconsistent and struggle with control, getting into his own head and taking himself out of the game. Blue Jays fans are hoping he is still riding success from the World Baseball Classic and from his last start. On April 6th versus the Rays, Marcus pitched 6.1 frames, striking out 5 batters and only giving up 1 run on 6 hits.
The Brewers counter with Chase Anderson, who is in his second season as a Brewers starter. Anderson is a crafty pitcher who isn’t going to be breaking any radar guns, but he battles on the mound and doesn’t give up many walks. In his first start of the season, Chase fared well against the Rockies and will look for another strong outing facing the (sometimes) potent offense of the Blue Jays.
Players to Watch
With a lineup full of sluggers, the usual names will often appear in this section for the Blue Jays. Josh Donaldson is off to a great start so far, hitting .348 with 2 HR under his belt. Josh left his last game with a potential calf injury but insists he’ll be ready to go for this series.
It would be great to see Jose Bautista get something going after having a good spring training and a productive World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic. He has struggled with success at the plate thus far, managing only 3 hits on the season. A good sign is that he has racked up 5 bases-on-balls in 23 plate appearances showing that he is remaining patient.
The always dangerous Ryan Braun, who already has 2 HR on the season is still one of the best power hitters in the league. Last season he hit 30 long-balls and in his career has consistently hit the ball a mile. In the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, Braun should be approached with caution.
A familiar face in Toronto is making a return but this time in a different uniform. Eric Thames played for the Blue Jays in 2011 and part of the 2012 season before being traded to Seattle. Thames hit 15 HR with Toronto and should be familiar with the stadium. Whether fans remember him or not from years ago will be interesting to see. He recently became a superstar playing in Korea before returning to the MLB after signing with the Brewers.