The Blue Jays’ (19-26) road trip hasn’t gone according to plan. After winning five in a row, the Jays have lost five of their last seven. They are now set to take on the surprisingly impressive Milwaukee Brewers (25-19). The good news for the Jays is that they will have two regulars starting on the mound in this series.
The Meeting On the Mound
Is it still too early to call Joe Biagini a regular starting pitcher? I appreciate that he only has three starts under his belt, and that Francisco Liriano still exists, but it seems as though Biagini might end up with the fifth spot in the rotation when everything is said and done. He will get the start in tonight’s game (7:40 PM). Biagini had a rough showing against Atlanta last week, as the Braves scored six runs in the 1st inning. Biagini settled down after that, and retired 12 in a row. I expect better results tonight. On the other side, the Brewers will turn to Jimmy Nelson. A quick scouting report suggests that he does nothing especially impressive, nor anything too terrible. Nelson keeps the ball in the yard, throws a few strikeouts, and can allow a few too many walks. That’s about it. What the Jays can do with his 93 MPH fastball remains to be seen.
The series final goes on Wednesday (1:10 PM). The Jays will send Marcus Stroman to the mound. Stroman looked strong in his last start, as he shutout the Braves over 5.1 innings. As long as the defence is up to the task behind him, Stroman should be fine. You can make a convincing argument that he has never looked better than he has so far this season. The Brewers will send Matt Garza to the hill. Like Stroman, Garza has never looked better. The veteran is currently sporting a 2.43 ERA. His best pitch is his two-seamer, which sits near 92 MPH. The key is how much movement it has. The Jays will need to stay disciplined, and force Garza to throw balls in the strike zone.
Players to Watch
We are still a few hours from seeing tonight’s lineup card. With that in mind, it’s not clear who will play in left field throughout this series. The job will most likely go to Ezequiel Carrera, as he has had that responsibility for most of the season. That said, Carrera has had more than his fair share of mental mishaps over the past couple of weeks. His bat has cooled down, but he is still hitting well enough. It seems to be Carrera’s defence that sparked the decision to keep Anthony Alford around. Sure, the Jays need a fourth outfielder, but you would think that Chris Coghlan could do in a pinch. Since the Jays opted to move Alford up, and have him make a couple of starts, it seems to be within the realm of possibility that he will continue to get regular playing time. If he does, and if he starts to hit (which he will eventually), then it will be interesting to see what that means for both his and Carrera’s futures going forward.
One player who doesn’t need to worry about his playing time is Eric Thames. You know his story by now. The former Blue Jay went to the KBO, where he became a hitting machine. The Brewers were the only team to take a gamble on him this winter, and it has already paid off enormously. Thames is hitting .306/.429/664 with 13 home runs this season. Despite a poor first week of May, he has still been able to maintain those impressive numbers. Thames did leave Milwaukee’s game on Sunday with leg cramping, but it’s not clear that he will be sidelined for this series. It would be just the Jays’ luck to have him hit four homers in two games. Biagini and Stroman better keep the ball down.