The Toronto Blue Jays will look to continue the roll they got on last week tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. After taking two of three from both the Padres and Giants last week the Jays have another three game set with the Cards. While much of the attention is sure to be on Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday the pitching matchups are exceptional.
Both teams will send their top three starters to the mound over the next three days. The teams also come into the series with similar records, the Cards at 38-31 and the Jays at 38-32. St. Louis does have the better run differential at +56 to the Jays +26. The Jays are 19-15 at home, while the Cards are just the opposite, 15-19, on the road.
Offensively, the Jays and Cards are evenly matched with the Jays .329 wOBA just ahead of the Cardinals .327 wOBA. Where the Cards hit for a higher average and draw more walks, the Jays of course counter with superior power. Defensively, according to UZR the Cards are a +8.6, with the Jays checking in at -12.4.
When matters get turned over to the bullpens the Jays and Cards sport similar FIPs of 4.03 and 4.06, respectively. However, the Cards have a bullpen ERA of 3.18 to the Jays 4.37. The big difference in ERA despite similar FIPs stems from the Cards bullpen stranding 78.2 percent of it's baserunners and having a BABIP of .271. The Jays 'pen has only managed to strand 71.3 percent of it's baserunners and suffering from a .310 BABIP.
The key to any series is the pitching matchups, especially ones as good as these, and here they are:
Tuesday: Brett Cecil vs Jaime Garcia
It's only fitting that these two should be matched up. Both are young, left handers in the midst of breakout seasons. Garcia, 23, has been a groundball machine with 58.4 percent of his balls in play staying on the ground. That coupled with a scant .23 HR per nine innings has kept his ERA way down at 1.59. His one weakness is his 3.97 BB per nine innings. He doesn't counter it with an overwhelming number of Ks either leaving him with a FIP of 3.19.
Cecil continues to impress this season heading into tonight's start with a 3.58 ERA and a 3.55 FIP. He's found success thanks to his 2.30 BB per nine innings and keeping the homers in check allowing .77 HR/9 IN. Cecil has been able to get batters to chase 32.5 percent of his pitches out of the zone, bettering the league average by 5.2 percent. Hitters are also swinging and missing 9.4 percent of the time against Cecil (8.3% league average).
Wednesday: Ricky Romero vs Chris Carpenter
Carpenter has picked right up where he left off last season and is turning in another season worth Cy Young consideration. Both his 2.83 ERA and 3.78 FIP are impressive. Just like Garcia, Carpenter does an outstanding job keeping the ball on the ground with a 54.1 groundball rate. He mixes good control, 2.30 BB/9 IN, with a solid strikeout rate of 7.79 K/9 IN. The Jays should look to exploit his .97 HR/9 IN, which is just above the .94 HR/9 IN league average.
Quietly putting together a Cy Young worthy campaign of his own, Romero heads to the mound with a 3.16 FIP. Romero gets it done with a combination of strikeouts and groundballs. He sits down 8.97 batters per nine innings and has a 56.4 percent groundball rate. Romero doesn't cough up the long ball much either yielding only .53 HR/9 IN. His ERA, at 3.08, is outstanding as well.
Thursday: Brandon Morrow vs Adam Wainwright
For the second year in a row Wainwright has teamed with Carpenter to form the NL's most dangerous one-two punch on the mound. Wainwright has been the better of the two this season with a 2.23 ERA and a tidy 2.90 FIP. He's tough to beat no matter how you look at it. Wainwright whiffs 8.34 batters per nine innings while walking only 2.39 per nine innings. Surprise, surprise, just like Carpenter and Garcia, Wainwright has an outstanding groundball rate at 52.3 percent. He'll be tough for the Jays to solve with his .50 HR/9 IN.
Despite pitching better as of late as he continues to embrace being a full time starter, Morrow is the only starter in the series with an ERA over four at 4.97. He also isn't a groundball machine getting a grounder on only 40.8 percent of his balls in play. He hands out a decent amount of walks too, walking 4.86 per nine innings.
But Morrow has used his outstanding 9.95 K/9 IN and well below league average .59 HR/9 IN to keep his FIP at 3.63. He's been terrific three times out in June with a 1.89 ERA and a 2.65 FIP. Morrow's been much better at home with a home ERA/FIP of 3.35/2.87 compared to his road ERA/FIP of 7.09/4.61.