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Toronto Game 1/Series Preview

July 24, 2012

The Athletics continue their AL East stretch today by opening a six game road trip in Toronto. These next thirteen games are important if the A’s wish to contend for the Wild Card spot as they can distance themselves from three of their competitors. The Blue Jays are three games out of the Wild Card lead and depending on how this series goes they can either still be in contention or turning into sellers rather quickly. Currently the Orioles are a half-game out of the lead and the Rays are two-and-a-half games out. Seeing as the A’s start with the Blue Jays tonight, let’s get to know them intimately.

The Park

As most, if not all, of us know the Blue Jays play in the Rogers Centre and thanks to StatCorner the rolling three-year Park Factors are as such;

(LHB / RHB)
K 105 / 99
gbH 99 / 102
1B 97 / 101
2/3B 109 / 144
HR 101 / 117
ofH 100 / 103

As you can see the Roger’s Centre plays into the hitters favor, especially right-handed hitters. It is not as extreme as other parks, but compared to O.co it is a launching pad. It certainly does not play well for extreme flyball pitchers which will make A.J. Griffin’s and Tommy Milone’s start interesting.

Probables 

Tuesday – Blackley vs. Cecil
Wednesday – Griffin vs. Romero
Thursday – Milone vs. Laffey

Cecil:

Pitches:
Curve – 28.4% – 78.3 MPH
Four-seam Fastball – 23.1% – 88.7
Change – 19% – 82.2
Cutter – 18.1% – 85.1
Sinker – 10.9% – 87.7

At 6’1″, 215 lbs Cecil has some size to him but doesn’t posses blow-it-by-you stuff. He is more like Milone. He’s turned to his curveball more this year and in his last start he actually threw it 33% of the time against the Yankees. He will pound the strike zone (not like Dave Hernandez) and looks to get ahead early. For his career his is at the MLB average for first pitch strikes (57%).   Because of his lack of flashy stuff, he’s going to pitch by sequence and try to have the batter get himself out. Currently his career average for balls in play is above MLB average at 71%. Also because he tries to speed you up and slow you down, he’s done well this year at inducing a ridiculous amount of infield flyballs, 21%. His overall flyball rate has exploded this year, albeit in only seven starts, to 70%. He is at 59% for his career.

Series Prediction:

Even with Jose Bautista still on the DL due to a bum wrist, The Blue Jays still have a lot of pop in the lineup. Four of their hitters have 10+ home runs with two more knocking on the double-digit door. The starting rotation has been through some rough patches lately and the bullpen has not been the greatest, but they still have significant talent in their arms. It’s going to take a lot of runs to beat this team in Toronto and with the arms the A’s are running out there to start, I could turn ugly. I see the Athletics taking 1 of 3 from the Blue Jays this series.

Tomorrow I will have a recap of tonight’s  and preview of tomorrows. So be sure to check back.

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