Having lost three of four against the Twins, the Boston Red Sox (21-14, tied for 1st in the AL East) finish their homestand by welcoming the Toronto Blue Jays (13-23, last place in the AL East, 8.5 games back) to Fenway Park for a three-game weekend series. The Red Sox are 3-7 in their last 10 games and lost their last three games, while the Blue Jays are 4-6 in their last 10 and lost their last two games.
STARTING PITCHERS: Ramon Ortiz, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow
The presence of Ramon Ortiz (facing Jon Lester in Friday night’s opener) as a starting pitcher for the Blue Jays shows how desperate they are. Injuries have taken their toll on the Blue Jays staff so they turn to Ortiz, who they designated for assignment on April 23 (he went unclaimed on waivers and reported to AAA). The last year Ortiz had a positive WAR was 2007, when he posted 0.5 WAR for the Twins. He will throw an 89 mph fastball, an 81 mph slider and an 84 mph changeup. Ramon Ortiz should be a slump-buster for the Red Sox.
Mark Buehrle (against Clay Buchholz on Saturday afternoon) is having a difficult first season in Toronto. So far in 2013, Buehrle has posted a pitching line of 7.02 ERA/6.34 FIP/4.94 xFIP. Home runs are to blame: Buehrle has surrendered 11 homers in 7 starts, which is tied for worst in all of the majors. Buehrle’s walk rate of 2.41 per nine innings, while not horrible for most pitchers, is the highest rate for Buehrle since his rookie 2000 season. At least he works fast.
Brandon Morrow (versus Ryan Dempster in Sunday afternoon’s finale) has also gotten off to a slow start in 2013. His 2013 pitching line of 4.69 ERA/4.56 FIP/4.75 xFIP is much worse than his 2012 line of 2.96 ERA/3.65 FIP/4.03 xFIP. Notably, Morrow’s K rate of 7.59 per 9 innings is the worst of his career, and his walk rate of 3.79 per nine is worse than his 2012 mark of 2.96 per nine. Granted, 2012 was a career year for Morrow but surely the Blue Jays didn’t expect this much of a drop-off.
1. Brett Lawrie, 3B
2. Melky Cabrera, LF
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
5. J.P. Arencibia, C
6. Adam Lind, DH
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Maicer Izturis, 2B
9. Munenori Kawasaki, SS
WHO’S HOT/WHO’S NOT
In the last two weeks, the Blue Jays hitters who laid it on the line were Jose Bautista (.302/.421/.558, .405 wOBA, 157 wRC), Edwin Encarnacion (.255/.316/.549, .367 wOBA, 131 wRC, five homers) and Colby Rasmus (.270/.357/.432, .349 wOBA, 119 wRC), with honorable mention going to Mark DeRosa (.350/.409/.750, .487 wOBA, 213 wRC, two homers), Adam Lind (.250/.400/.500, .380 wOBA, 140 wRC) and Rajai Davis (.345/.424/.379, .364 wOBA, 129 wRC), who hit well in limited action. However, Brett Lawrie (.188/.264/.354, .274 wOBA, 67 wRC), J.P. Arencibia (.220/.238/.317, .244 wOBA, 47 wRC) and Emilio Bonifacio (.150/.150/.200, .151 wOBA, -16 wRC) did not have the magic power.
In the bullpen in the last two weeks, Casey Janssen (0.00 ERA/1.97 FIP/3.42 xFIP, but look at that .000 BABIP) and Brett Cecil (1.80 ERA/1.57 FIP/3.31 xFIP, .286 BABIP) fought the good fight. Darren Oliver (1.50 ERA/5.31 FIP/4.83 xFIP, .200 BABIP) and Steve Delabar (2.16 ERA/4.17 FIP/4.01 xFIP, .250 BABIP) got pretty lucky. However, Esmil Rogers (11.12 ERA/6.33 FIP/6.34 xFIP, .333 BABIP) was an ordinary man.
AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE
RHP Kyle Drabek (recovery from June 2012 Tommy John, placed on the 60-day DL on February 25), LHP J.A. Happ (minor fracture on left side of skull, placed on the 15-day DL on May 8), RHP Drew Hutchison (recovery from August 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on the 60-day DL on March 22), RHP Josh Johnson (right triceps inflammation, placed on the 15-day DL on May 2, retroactive to April 29), RHP Dustin McGowan (right shoulder, placed on the 15-day DL on March 31, transferred to the 60-day DL on April 7), LHP Luis Perez (recovery from July 2012 Tommy John surgery, placed on the 60-day DL on February 23), SS Jose Reyes (sprained left ankle, placed on the 15-day DL on April 13) and RHP Sergio Santos (soreness in right triceps, placed on the 15-day DL on April 16, retroactive to April 14)
AND WHAT ABOUT THE RED SOX?
The hot hitters in the last two weeks for the Red Sox were Stephen Drew (.375/.422/.600, .433 wOBA, 172 wRC), Shane Victorino (.320/.346/.600, .405 wOBA, 153 wRC), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.286/.375/.536, .392 wOBA, 144 wRC), Dustin Pedroia (.340/.417/.472, .391 wOBA, 143 wRC, off the schneid with his first home run) and David Ortiz (.271/.308/.583, .367 wOBA, 127 wRC, but no hits in his last 13 at bats). David Ross (.375/.524/1.000, .605 wOBA, 290 wRC, three homers), Mike Carp (.263/.333/.632, .408 wOBA, 155 wRC, two homers), Pedro Ciriaco (.308/.400/.462, .375 wOBA, 133 wRC, but crappy defense in the Twins series) and Jonny Gomes (.240/.333/.520, .361 wOBA, 123 wRC, two homers) hit well in limited action. However, Will Middlebrooks (.244/.295/.366, .293 wOBA, 77 wRC) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.232/.306/.250, .258 wOBA, 53 wRC) hit poorly.
In the Sox bullpen, Andrew Miller (0.00 ERA/-0.43 FIP/-0.14 xFIP (yes, those are negative), .375 BABIP), Alex Wilson (2.35 ERA/2.71 FIP/4.04 xFIP, .346 BABIP) and Koji Uehara (3.00 ERA/2.64 FIP/1.92 xFIP, .357 BABIP) pitched well in the last two weeks. Clayton Mortensen (2.45 ERA/3.79 FIP/4.58 xFIP, .238 BABIP) rode a bit of luck, while Junichi Tazawa (5.79 ERA/4.47 FIP/3.55 xFIP, .444 BABIP but 5.79 BB/9) was a little unlucky but didn’t help his own cause.
If the Blue Jays don’t start winning soon, the only triumph in Toronto will be the band.