You’re probably wondering what’s with the picture at the start of this preview. We’ll get to that.
We just finished up a series with the Marlins in which we finally got to see the Braves play in mid-season form. And by that I mean scoring 2 or 3 runs a game and watching the mediocre-at-best back of the rotation guys pitch like mediocre-at-best back of the rotation guys. Hopefully we’ll find better fortune up north, but I doubt it.
The Braves are going to be traveling into the land of free healthcare and no guns to face the stars-and-scrubs Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have not only one of the most talented lineups in baseball this year, they also have the largest collection of some of my favorite players. I love underrated guys, and Edwin Encarnacion has very quietly been one of the top 10 hitters in all of baseball over the last few years. Russell Martin falls into the underrated category as well, both in terms of WAR thanks to his incredible pitch framing (around 15 runs per year) and in terms of his terrific game calling and leadership. I’d guess he’s worth at least 2 wins per year on top of whatever WAR says about him, which already says he’s an All-Star caliber player. And then my boys Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson simply have two of the most beautiful swings among any active players. Just look at that smirk as Donaldson hits this bomb:
And the perfect hip movements of Joey Bats:
All told, this Blue Jays roster is projected to score around 4.6 runs per game this year, which is pretty absurd in today’s offensive environment. The only things holding them back are their weak pitching staff and lack of significant depth. On the pitching front, RA Dickey and Mark Buehrle have seen their glory years come and go, the shell of Johan Santana is perpetually injured and not pitching particularly well when he’s not, and the rest of the staff is kind of just a thrown-together box of innings eaters. As far as the lack of depth goes, the Blue Jays have some of the most extreme value-inequality in baseball, with 60% of their projected team WAR coming from Donaldson, Bautista, Martin, Encarnacion, and Jose Reyes. If one of those guys ends up with significant time on the DL, they could potentially be in serious trouble. I think their best shot at the playoffs is going to be as a Wild Card, as I don’t foresee the mighty Red Sox having any problems taking the AL East.
This series will see us face the aforementioned Dickey, along with Drew Hutchison and rookie Daniel Norris. We should be able to scrap some runs together against those three, but the Braves are still facing one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball in their home stadium, so it’s still gonna be a tough series. Baseball-Sim gives us only a 30 to 40 percent chance of winning each game. Either way, I’m always excited to see Teheran, Wood, and Miller all pitch back-to-back. If those guys have their best stuff and are making good pitches, and if our scrappy little offense can manage to small ball some runs, we could still be pretty competitive.
Oh, and the picture at the beginning is just of Kyle at Camden Yards. He and I went there last weekend together, and I figured I’d include the picture here since we were watching the Orioles face the Blue Jays in that game. I really didn’t need to include any of that, but I’m thinking maybe it built some suspense or something and I like pictures at the top of posts. Anyhow, fancy infographic: