The Cincinnati Reds (24-25) go north of the border for a three game series against the Toronto Blue Jays (23-27), starting tonight at 7:07 ET. These two teams have not played each other since 2014, and the Reds have not visited Toronto since 2009.
The Blue Jays come into this series in last place in the AL East, 7.5 games behind the New York Yankees. It’s been a rough first two months of the season for Toronto, which has had a revolving door of injured players. Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Dalton Pompey, J.A. Happ, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, first baseman Steve Pearce and pitcher Aaron Sanchez have all spent time on the disabled list. Things are looking up for the Blue Jays though, as they are 6-4 in their last 10 and got back Donaldson and Tulowitzki over the weekend.
Aside from the game in San Francisco when he went eight innings, Bonilla can’t seem to make it past the fifth inning. The problem stems from walking too many batters. In 23.1 innings, he’s walked 11. Combine the walks he’s allowed with the number of runs he’s given up (16), and it leads to more pitches thrown. If he can somehow find a way to be more pitch efficient and limit the number of home runs he surrenders, he could have a decent start.
Stroman is one of two starting pitchers for the Blue Jays who have been mainstays in the Toronto rotation. In 62.2 innings, Stroman is 5-2 and has given up 23 earned runs, including six home runs, while striking out 51 batters and walking 19. Only Eugenio Suarez and Arismendy Alcantara have faced Stroman, and are a combined 0-for-5 against him.
Stroman’s K% is about the same as in previous years, but his BB% is up slightly from last year. He’s giving up more walks and hits, but also getting out of trouble more often, as his 80.4 LOB% is way up from last year. Stroman is very much a ground ball pitcher, as 61.0% of the balls in play off him are ground balls. He’s induced 14 double plays, far and away more than his teammates.
Joey Votto Returns Home
Votto no doubt will have a section of family and friends in the seats at the Rogers Centre this week. Votto has only played in Toronto once, in 2009. He batted .417/.462/.750, with an OPS of 1.212 in 13 plate appearances, and five hits, including a double and a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Four of his five hits came on getaway day of that series, when he went 4-for-5, and the Reds lit up Brett Cecil for five runs in three innings.
With Votto coming off a poor series in Philadelphia where he batted 1-for-11 with three strikeouts, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him have a great series in his hometown.
You can find the lineups here.
News and Notes
On Memorial Day last year, the Reds were 16-34, had lost nine of their last 10 and were seven games behind the fourth place Milwaukee Brewers. Contrast that with this year where the Reds are 24-25 and sit 2.5 games behind the Brewers, another team playing surprisingly well.
It’s rather impressive the Reds are doing this with the starting rotation being what it currently is. It will be interesting to see how the team plays when the regular starting pitchers return. And if you’re not having fun watching this offense right now, then I really don’t know what to tell you.