Hi everyone. So, Richard Durrett of the Dallas Morning News sent me some questions in anticipation of the Jays' 4-game, 3-day series with the Rangers and, given the team's recent play, I gritted my teeth and answered them:
DMN: The Rangers last saw the Blue Jays in June. Give us an update on the club since then.
Hugo: August hasn't been a good month for the bullpen. Scott Downs returned from the re-aggravation of a toe injury that had sidelined him earlier this season, but he hasn't gotten much work in since then and has been shaky when he has pitched. After a splendid July, Brandon League has had an ugly August and has generally been a bit of a mystery all season - he has more strikeouts than innings pitched and very few walks, numbers that should suggest dominance, especially considering his hard sinker known for inducing groundballs. Yet his ERA (presently 5.31) hasn't reflected that at all. Lefthanded batters have been the main culprit. Lefty Jesse Carlson and righty Jason Frasor have been the best relief pitchers recently, and I'd look for them late in close games at the moment.
DMN: Who are a few players to watch in this series?
Hugo: Travis Snider is the one to watch at the moment, at least from the Jays' fans perspective. The young slugger has struggled to make contact since being returned to the big club (he has struck out in over a third of his 46 plate appearances) but that has come from working the count more (8 walks in 12 games) as well as from his struggles to make contact so it's not all bad. Snider is only hitting .198 since returning, but he has gotten on base at a .348 clip and hit three home runs. The bottom line is that it's only been 12 games and he is still very much a work in progress, but one worth watching. Adam Lind is making a bid at a 30-home run season (he's got 25 right now), which would be a lovely milestone for the young hitter, while Hill has already reached that (he hit no. 31 on Friday).
DMN: Can you give us a scouting report on the starters the Rangers will face in this 4-game series packed into 3 days?
Hugo: Sure. Brett Cecil will pitch in tonight's game and it could well be his last start as he has about maxed out his innings between the majors and the minors this season. Cecil, like the Jays, was on his way to a very nice rookie season and had a spectacular July but August has not been kind. The young Marylander has really struggled with his command and has given up 2 home runs in each of his last two starts to boot. Cecil, a lefthander, has a good sinking fastball that he uses to induce groundballs, a very good slider, and a changeup and curve that have eluded him at times this season.
Hugo: I hope they do. It's always fun to see a good wild-card race. Though I suppose there is some vested interest among Jays' fans in the wild card winner coming from the AL East, since Jays fans like to complain about how difficult the division is, a complaint that has a lot of truth.