clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Welcoming our Modestly Talented Neighbors from the North: Phillies vs. Blue Jays Series Preview

New, 13 comments

The Phillies will take on the reeling Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game set

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays are coming to Philadelphia! 25 years after the Blue Jays broke the hearts of Phillies fans, we will finally have our chance at revenge!

*Checks Baseball Reference*

As it turns out, the Phillies and Jays have played quite a few games since 1993; 51 to be exact. That’s a lot of opportunity to get revenge, and based on the results, the Phillies haven’t been especially good at it. Their record against Toronto is an unimpressive 21-30.

There’s no use dwelling on the past. The Jays are coming to town, and by most measures, they are nowhere near as talented as they were in 1993, so this should be a great opportunity for the Phillies to add some wins to their record.

The Last Time They Met

Back in 2016, the Phillies engaged in a hockey-style home-and-home series with the Jays. The first two games took place at Rogers Centre, with the final two at Citizens Bank Park.

The series started off well when Phillies shut out the Jays in the opener. The rest of the series did not go as smoothly. The Jays won the next three games, and the finale featured an ugly performance by Aaron Nola who was going through that thankfully brief period when he wasn’t good. (He seems to be over that now.)

So what about the 2018 Blue Jays?

The current Jays don’t look so great. Thanks to being in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees, the Blue Jays are already buried in the standings. Since this doesn’t appear to be a team capable of making up an eleven game deficit, their hopes have turned to the second Wild Card spot.

Their chances of winning that seem slim as well. They’re already seven games out, and are fading fast. The Jays are 2-8 in their last ten games, and just lost two out of three to the Angels.

In other words, this Twitter account is getting a lot of action:

Blue Jays Offense vs. Phillies Pitching

When these teams met in 2016, the Jays featured a Las Vegas-like lineup: Full of big name stars and producers. Thanks to elite players like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion (and Michael Saunders?), the Jays were fifth in the American League in runs scored.

Two years later, the Blue Jays lineup is more like Branson, Missouri. Most of those stars are gone, and the Jays lineup consists of a bunch of guys you’ve probably heard of, but had no idea they were in Toronto (or in some cases, still actively playing). For instance, Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, Curtis Granderson, and Justin Smoak are all members of the Jays’ lineup. Donaldson is still there, but he’s off to a slow start after spending time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Against this comfortably familiar lineup, the Phillies will send Zack Eflin, Aaron Nola, and Nick Pivetta to the mound. It’s reasonable to think all three men will deliver strong starts. Nola assuredly is seeking revenge for that awful start in 2016, while Eflin knows he needs to pitch well to hold onto his spot in the rotation.

As for Pivetta, all he’s done is become one of the best starters in the National League.

The Jays are proficient at taking walks, so there’s a good chance the Phillies’ relievers will be called on for a few innings of work. All that means is that we’re likely to see a couple of appearances by this guy:

Good luck with that, Blue Jays.

Blue Jays Pitching vs. Phillies Offense

Sam Gaviglio will get the start in the opener, and while there’s not much of a scouting report on him, I was able to find this tidbit:

That sounds impressive, but I think Sam may find that facing the likes of Carlos Santana and Odubel Herrera is a little tougher than mowing down college hitters. Sure, he may have pitched well in his last start, but that can probably be attributed to beginner’s luck.

Veteran Jamie Garcia will be activated from the disabled list and get the start on Saturday. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the pitcher in this clip:

I think it would be a nice touch if the Phillies had Francisco throw out the first pitch on Saturday. I imagine that would rattle Garcia so much that he would struggle to even throw a strike.

As it turns out, the Phillies have a different Ben slated to throw the first pitch on Saturday:

While he’s no Ben Francisco, I suppose Ben Simmons is cool too.

On Sunday, the Jays will have their “ace” going for them in the form of old friend J.A. Happ. Happ has somehow made a decent career for himself, but I have a theory that says that if J.A. Happ is your best pitcher, you are probably not a playoff team. I’m aware that the 2016 Blue Jays made the playoffs, and Happ was arguably their best pitcher, but considering Marco Estrada got the start in the first game of both the ALDS and ALCS, it seems like the Jays considered him to be their true ace.

The Jays bullpen has not been a strength, especially in recent weeks. Several short outings by their starters and having closer Roberto Osuna being placed on administrative leave has exposed the Jays relievers. Tyler Clippard has had a solid career (he made TWO All-Star teams?), he’s not really an ideal closer.

Boo this man!

The reason for Osuna’s absence is because he was arrested for domestic assault, so if he was still active, I’d suggest serenading him with boos. Aside from that, I don’t see anyone too loathsome on the Jays’ roster. They’re from Canada, so it’s hard to get too worked up about them.

However, if you see any Blue Jays fans walking around Citizens Bank Park in a Joe Carter jersey, feel free to let them have it. That kind of trolling is unacceptable and should be dealt with quickly and severely.

A Tribute to Blue Jays Fans

While I may be unimpressed with the quality of the current Blue Jays team, I have nothing but praise for Blue Jays fans. I once attended a game at Rogers Centre, and those were the happiest fans I’ve ever come across. It didn’t matter what happened in the game, they just seemed so happy to be there.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I also feel a little bad for them. They’ve made two playoff appearances in the past 25 years, and after a couple of good years seem to be slinking back to their old status as spectators in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

Prediction

The Blue Jays are reeling, and the Phillies have been nearly unbeatable at home. That seems like a winning combination to me. Maybe expecting a sweep is too much, but the Phillies should certainly win two of the three games.