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American League East Playoff Race: Week Preview

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The Blue Jays Will Be Up Against None Other Than Mike Trout This Week
The Blue Jays Will Be Up Against None Other Than Mike Trout This Week
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The American League East currently boasts the best playoff race in baseball, as three teams remain in a tight race for the division title. Scoreboard watching will be alive and well this week, as the Blue Jays carry just a half game lead over the Boston Red Sox for first place.

The Red Sox and Orioles play everyday this week, so both teams will have a chance to pick up half a game on the Blue Jays on Monday. Although the Blue Jays will be without Aaron Sanchez, they do seem to have the easiest schedule of this group, plus they get to play the whole week at home.

Probable pitchers are listed below, along with each pitcher's FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching).

Blue Jays

M N/A OFF N/A
T Dickey (5.22) LAA Skaggs (3.73)
W Estrada (4.17) LAA Shoemaker (3.61)
T Happ (3.89) LAA Weaver (5.86)
F Liriano (5.14) MIN Santiago (5.35)
S Stroman (3.85) MIN Santana (3.79)
S Dickey (5.22) MIN Gibson (4.64)

The Blue Jays play the two worst teams in the American League this week, and should get Kevin Pillar back in the lineup to boot. R.A. Dickey is the only pitcher who will pitch twice, and he will look to improve on his shaky command of late. The Angels will be without Yunel Escobar, while the Twins do not have any major injuries in terms of position players.

Tyler Skaggs recently started his season off with two scoreless starts, but has since gotten crushed in his last three outings. He throws hard for a left-handed starter, and gets plenty of strike outs, but enters play with a career ERA of 4.78. The Blue Jays boast a ton of strong right-handed hitters, which seems like a recipe for success against Skaggs.

Game 2 of the series should be the most difficult, as Matt Shoemaker is pitching very well after a poor April and May. He rarely surrenders a free pass, plus Marco Estrada has not been fantastic of late. Thankfully, the Blue Jays will be major favourites in the series finale, as Jared Weaver may be the worst starting pitcher in all of baseball at this point.

The Blue Jays will face another homer prone pitcher on Friday in Hector Santiago. It's tough to know what to expect from Francisco Liriano, but Toronto's right-handed heavy lineup should be able to do some damage, as Santiago has struggled against righties his entire career.

Unfortunately, Toronto runs into a very hot pitcher in Ervin Santana on Saturday, as the 33 year old righty owns a 1.53 ERA over his last five starts. However, Marcus Stroman is coming off back-to-back strong outings, so this one could end up being quite the pitcher's duel. The final game of the week looks to be a bit of a toss up, as Kyle Gibson has struggled this season, but he is much better against right-handed hitters.

Red Sox

M Price (3.52) @ TB Snell (3.34)
T Buchholz (5.41) @ TB Archer (3.79)
W Porcello (3.69) @ TB Andriese (3.79)
T Pomeranz (3.71) @ TB Odorizzi (4.14)
F Rodriguez (4.91) KC Kennedy (4.80)
S Price (3.52) KC Duffy (3.37)
S Wright (3.39) KC Ventura (4.82)

It sounds like Steven Wright will return at some point against Kansas City, but it is unclear which game he will start. Eduardo Rodriguez's start is also in jeopardy, as he did not make his last start due to a hamstring injury. The Red Sox miss a hot pitcher of late in Drew Smyly, but will also miss a pair of struggling Royals starters in the process.

The Red Sox should be major favourites on Wednesday, as Rick Porcello is pitching great of late, while Matt Andriese is struggling greatly. Other than that, the Rays should offer a very competitive series, and look to be favourites against Clay Buchholz.

Both Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy have been absolutely outstanding this month, plus Ventura is doing much better of late as well. The Red Sox get very difficult match ups in this weekend series, so let's hope the Royals can win two games or more in this three game set.

Baltimore

M Bundy (4.23) WSH Cole (N/A)
T Gausman (4.39) WSH Lopez (3.32)
W Miley (4.79) @WSH Roark (3.67)
T Tillman (4.27) @WSH Scherzer (3.35)
F Gallardo (5.14) @NYY Cessa (5.58)
S Bundy (4.23) @NYY Green (4.77)
S Gausman (4.39) @NYY Pineda (3.84)

The Orioles have an extremely difficult week ahead of them, especially in the four game series against the Nationals. It looks as though the Orioles will have to face all three of Strasburg, Roark, and Scherzer, which could be a nightmare. The young Reynaldo Lopez throws extremely hard from the right side, and has allowed just one earned run in each of his last two starts.

Fortunately for Baltimore, the team should miss Yankees' ace Masahiro Tanaka in their weekend series, and will also avoid facing a left-handed starter all week. However, the Orioles will run into a hot starter in Chad Green on Saturday, and it's tough to count on Yovani Gallardo this season.

Enjoy this week of baseball, and we will try to update the pitching match-ups if changes occur. Let's hope the Blue Jays can take advantage of an easy schedule and jump ahead in the American League East.