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Blue Jays Vs. Braves: Atlanta Welcomes Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar For An Interleague Series

The Toronto Blue Jays aren't a bad team, but they're stuck in the hardest division in baseball and don't have the pitching to contend over the course of an entire season. Still, they'll be looking to steal a series from Atlanta this week. Let's take a look at their team:

Offense:

The Blue Jays are led by MVP candidate Jose Bautista (.336/.483/.668, 213 wRC+) who is currently tied for the Major League lead in home runs with 21. Before slowing down a little in the month of June, the guy was on pace for one of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history. We simply can't let him beat us. Adam Lind (.331/.376/.619, 171 wRC+) is Bautista's partner in crime and is having a big season as well. And former Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar (.280/.357/.428, 119 wRC+) is rebounding nicely after a sub-par 2010.

The Jays don't do too much damage at the plate outside of those three. Catcher Jose Molina (.304/.389/.456, 143 wRC+) has had a nice first two months, but he's bound to regress substantially. Veteran outfielder Corey Patterson (.271/.301/.408, 94 wRC+) has been decent, but center fielder Rajai Davis (.244/.275/.375, 78 wRC+) has been pretty awful. Second baseman Aaron Hill is slumping (.245/.288/.349, 82 wRC+) and still hasn't been able to find his stroke from a few years ago.

Basically, if you can slow down Bautista, Lind and Escobar, you have a pretty great shot at winning. If not, the Blue Jays can put some runs on the board.

Pitching Matchups:

Ricky Romero Vs. Tim Hudson, Monday - 7:10EDT (Peachtree TV)

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Ricky Romero 6-6 14 14 2 0 0 0 95.2 81 35 32 10 34 87 3.01 1.20
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tim Hudson 5-6 14 14 1 1 0 0 86.0 79 46 39 6 20 54 4.08 1.15


This pitching matchup is probably going to be the best of the series. Romero has been a solid pitcher for Toronto the last few seasons and he's having another good year in 2011. His xFIP (3.31) indicates he's not going to regress too much based on luck and his strikeout numbers are above his career averages. He's primarily a 2-pitch pitcher throws a fastball in the low-90's and a good changeup, though he will break out a slider on occasion.

Zach Stewart Vs. Mike Minor, Tuesday - 7:10EDT (SportSouth)

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Zach Stewart 0-0 1 1 0 0 0 0 7.0 7 2 2 1 1 4 2.57 1.14
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Mike Minor 0-2 5 5 0 0 0 0 26.1 33 16 16 0 14 18 5.47 1.78


Blue Jays' rookie Zach Stewart will be making just the second start of his career on Tuesday night. The 24-year old pitched well in his debut against the Orioles and will be looking for the first win of his career. Stewart threw a fastball 80% of the time in his previous start and it sits in the high-80's, lower-90's. His out-pitch is a pretty decent slider and he does throw a changeup sparingly.

Jo-Jo Reyes Vs. Brandon Beachy, Wednesday - 1:05EDT (SportSouth)

Former Braves pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes will be making his first start against his old club on Wednesday afternoon. While nothing is official, Brandon Beachy is the likely candidate to replace Tommy Hanson. He pitched very well in his rehab start last week for Gwinnett and had no issues with his oblique.

Reyes has actually been a pretty decent fourth starter for Toronto and features a fastball, slider, changeup and occasional curveball. He doesn't throw hard, though he is 3-1 in his last four starts with an ERA of 3.68. It'll be interesting to see how Reyes (and the other Blue Jays) handle the Atlanta heat, especially with their stadium being a dome.

Recap:

The Blue Jays are a decent team capable of winning a few games if you take them lightly. Jose Bautista has been incredible the last two seasons and Adam Lind can put some runs on the scoreboard if you make a mistake to him. The pitching matchups look to be in Atlanta's favor, but who knows what our lineup will be able to come up with.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.