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Series Preview: 6/29-7/1 Tampa Bay Rays @ Toronto Blue Jays

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6/29: Jeff Niemann vs. Roy Halladay (7:07 SS)

6/30: Matt Garza vs. Scott Richmond (7:07 SS)

7/1: James Shields vs. Ricky Romero (1:07 FSF)

Playoff odds

Coolstandings: 49%

BP (PECOTA): 25%

BP (no PECOTA): 57%

After the jump, a Q&A with Tom Dakers of Bluebird Banter

 You get to watch Roy Halladay pitch every five days. I'm envious. On a scale of 1 through cat, how awesome is he?

There is no possible way to describe how awesome he is. I can't compare him to anyone really. In every start this season, except for the one that he got the strained groin in, he pitched at least 7 innings. He is so focused.

Will Carroll, on the Baseball Prospectus website, in one of the dumber things I've ever read, said CC Sabathia "may be one of the most purpose-built athletes around". If that is true, I have no idea what Doc is doing, but everything he does is to make sure he's as mentally and physically prepared to pitch each start as humanly possible.

Marco Scutaro went from the guy Billy Beane didn't even want to one of the best shortstops in the league, two years running. What in the world happened?

What happened is he finally has been given a full time job. His defense has been terrific, he is sure handed and makes all the plays he is supposed to and he makes a number of highlight reel plays as well.

I wasn't thrilled when Cito decided he ought to be our lead off hitter this season, but he has taken to the job with a real intelligence. He sees a lot a pitches, takes a lot of walks but when there is a pitch in his zone he hits it hard. So he's won me over.

If Scott Downs were healthy, I would argue we have the two best relievers in the division facing off with Downs and J.P. Howell. He's not though, so who should we expect to see in the latter innings for the Jays?

Our bullpen situation is, I guess fluid would be the term. But it looks like Cito Gaston has settled on Jason Frasor as the closer. He seems to be just going with whoever he thinks is the hot hand at the moment for the setup man job. Most of the guys in that role have been running hot and cold. We are hoping Downs returns to the team in early July. That should give us more defined roles in the pen and should help everyone out.

Given the proximity to the trade deadline and the Jays relative playoff odds, what are the chances J.P. Ricciardi makes a move or two down the stretch?

Is 'I hope so' an answer? The team has said they would add salary if we are close. I am so tired of watching Kevin Millar. Figure if you can't hit and can't field, likely your shouldn't have a job on the team. We really could use a bat, one more bat to DH or play LF. I hope JP pulls the trigger.

Being Canada's only team, are there a lot more Blue Jays fans nowadays, or did all the Expos fans become apathetic towards the game?

I think likely Expos fans were apathetic to baseball after the strike cost them a shot at the playoffs. I'm not sure there was Expo fan base after that moment. Basically the sport of choice on this side of the border is hockey, but those of us that like baseball do follow the Jays.

Montreal did have a long baseball history, the Dodgers had their Triple-A team there for year and Jackie Robinson played there before becoming a Dodger. But baseball did everything it could to kill of baseball there and it worked. I'm not sure there is anyone left in Quebec that follow the game


Big thanks to Tom, and be sure to check out my portion on BB.