Toronto has mainly been a one-man show this season, but it is not the man that we are used to seeing carry the load. Jose Bautista has heated up of late, but the offensive MVP of the club has easily been Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion leads the team with 11 home runs, leads them with 29 runs driven in, and leads them with six stolen bases.
Toronto is in a weird spot on their schedule as they play a series of four and two game series with this one being the fourth consecutive series of that kind. Toronto has split the previous three series against Los Angeles, Oakland, and Minnesota. This will be the second time the Rays have traveled to Toronto this young season while the Rays have yet to host the spring residents of Dunedin this season and this series will have a similar feel to the one in April.
Monday 7:07 PM - Jeff Niemann vs Brandon Morrow: The last time the Rays faced Morrow, they had their way with the talented right-hander as they totaled eight hits, three walks, and hit three home runs in the six innings he worked in a 12-2 victory supporting a dominating effort by David Price. The Rays have had a mixed bag of success against Morrow as most are familiar with his double-digit strikeout games of the past but the team has won two of their last three games against him.
Morrow, when not pitching against the AL East, has had quite a season. Toronto has won every game Morrow has pitched against a non-AL East foe this season while Morrow has allowed 14 hits, 10 runs, and five home runs in the 13 innings he worked in back to back starts against the Orioles and Rays in his second and third starts of the season. Since those starts, he has won four straight decisions against Kansas City, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Oakland and has struck out 30 hitters while walking just five and allowing one home run.
Jeff Niemann has pitched seven times at Rogers Centre in his career and has been victimized by the long ball six different times including twice in his start in April in which he took the loss. Niemann has struck out 30 while walking 14 in those starts but the home runs. Toronto's lineup is rather balanced in terms of handedness which does not allow them to take advantage of Niemann's splits against lefties, but that did not matter much in Niemann's outing last week against the Yankees.
Tuesday 7:07 PM - Henderson Alvarez vs David Price: This will be the second time the Rays will face Alvarez this season. The first time around, they had six hits, two walks, and two home runs against Alvarez chasing him after 6.1 innings and six runs. Alvarez pounds the the lower part of the zone and genarates groundballs in bunches as he has generated at least 12 groundballs in all but one of his starts in 2012. Despite the high percentage of grounders, Alvarez is no stranger to the home run as he has allowed one in all but one of his starts so far. The groundballs come in bunches but the strikeouts do not as Alvarez's four strikeouts against the Rays earlier this season is his season high.
Price loves pitching north of the border. He was roughed up as a rookie in 2009 when he was chased with nine hits, and three home runs in just three innings but since then has won each of his starts at the Rogers Centre. He won his start against Morrow in April despite allowing 10 baserunners in 5.2 innings and serving up a trolltastic home run to Jeff Mathis off an 0-2 fastball over the heart of the plate. Price was looking as he good as he ever has in his previous starts before the hiccup at Yankee Stadium last week. The last start in Toronto was the start of Price gaining confidence in all three of his pitches as he rolled out three straight quality starts against Los Angeles, Texas, and Oakland.
Splitsville (career totals; click headers to sort):
|wOBA vs RHP
|wOBA vs LHP
|FIP vs RH
|FIP vs LH