6/29 Blue Jays-Mariners Series Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays are hosting the Seattle Mariners tonight for the beginning of a three-game set. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this year, and it should be a good series.
Tuesday: Chris Flexen (6-3, 3.87 ERA) vs. Robbie Ray (5-3, 3.35 ERA)
Wednesday: Justus Sheffield (5-7, 5.69 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (7-3, 4.26 ERA)
Thursday: Yusei Kikuchi (5-3, 3.34 ERA) vs. Hyun Jin Ryu (7-4, 3.41 ERA)
In game 1 of the series, Robbie Ray is taking the hill for the Blue Jays. He has been solid for the Jays with a 3.35 ERA and a 131 ERA+ this season. He has been consistent all year with only two starts in which he yielded four or more earned runs, and neither of those starts has come since May 27. Ray has the ability to shut down a lineup, and he has the chance to do that against a Mariners squad who is last in the league in batting average. In game 2, Steven Matz is pitching for the Jays. He has been pretty up and down for Toronto, with seven starts of two or fewer earned runs, but four starts of four or more earned runs. Matz has only faced two of the Mariners hitters (J.P. Crawford and Luis Torrens), and they are a combined 1-4 against him. Finally, Hyun Jin Ryu is pitching the final game of the series. He has had a rough June by his standards, bumping his ERA up from 2.62 to 3.41 in 5 starts. Two starts ago, however, he went 7 innings, allowing only one earned run. Additionally, in his last start, he did not give up a run until the 7th inning. He has never faced the Mariners.
For the Mariners, Chris Flexen will be taking the ball in game one. He has been very good recently, giving up just one earned run in his last 14.2 innings, and just 3 in his last 20.2 innings. Flexen has never faced the Blue Jays, and George Springer is the only Blue Jays starter who has ever faced him, going 1-3. In game 2, Justus Sheffield is pitching for the Mariners. He has had a very rough June, going 19 innings and giving up 17 earned runs. He has a 1.66 WHIP this year, so the Blue Jays should be able to put up some runs. He has faced the Blue Jays once in his career, going 4 innings and giving up 3 earned runs. Finally, in the series finale, Yusei Kikuchi will take the mound for the Mariners. Kikuchi has been very strong this year, and has given up only 2 earned runs in his last 19.2 innings. He faced the Blue Jays once back in 2019 and threw a complete game shutout on just 96 pitches. It will be interesting to see how the Jays will hit him this time around.
The Blue Jays are 40-36 and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have won their last three series, and are in 3rd in the AL East. They outscored the Orioles 31-12 in a 4-game series last week after sweeping a 2-game series against the Marlins, in which they gave up just 0ne run in each game.
The Mariners are 41-38 and are also 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are coming off a series win against a strong Chicago White Sox team and on July 17-20, they swept the 47-32 Tampa Bay Rays in a 4-game series. Their pitching has been strong recently, giving up 3 or fewer runs in 5 of their last 9 contests.
Players to Watch
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won the AL Player of the Week this past week, hitting .391/.481/.827/1.308 with 3 home runs. He was the highest All-Star Game vote-getter after the first round of balloting, and looks to continue his incredible season against a couple of pretty good pitchers.
Yusei Kikuchi shut out the Blue Jays in his one career appearance against them and looks to keep his strong season going. He went 5.2 innings giving up only one earned run in his last start against a very good offense in the Chicago White Sox. He has gone fewer than 5 innings just twice this year, and it will be interesting to watch how he attacks a formidable Blue Jays offense.
These teams have not yet played each other this season.