And you thought the Cardinals struggled out of the gate?
Well, you think the Cardinals have had a rough start to the season, check the Blue Jays out. After a trip to the American League Championship Series last year, the Blue Jays have tripped on their face out of the gate, going 5-13 and are the worst team in baseball. That could mean danger for the Cardinals who may underestimate the Blue Jays a little bit as they come to town. But the Cardinals are in no position to relax. The Cardinals may have gone 6-1 over the past week, but there was little on the offensive side of the ball to get excited about. They hit .189 with runners in scoring position, which was 28th in baseball. They’ve hit a league leading .291 with the bases empty, which really exemplifies this team’s struggles with situational hitting.
The last time the Cardinals and Blue Jays played each other was back in June of 2014 in the Rogers Centre. The Cardinals won two of three games. Those games were won by Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia, neither of whom still play for the organization.
Game 20: Wacha v Estrada
Michael Wacha (2-1, 2.41 ERA) held the Pirates to 1 run over 6.2 innings of work in his last start to continue his quality start streak as he is now 3-for-3 to start the season. Wacha has never faced the Blue Jays before and only three Blue Jays have faced Wacha before in their careers, led by Kendrys Morales who is hitting .429 against him over 7 at bats.
Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.63 ERA) is pitching well as he has thrown 13 shutout innings over his past two starts. Estrada has been throwing the ball well, and has yet to be backed up by the Blue Jays offense which seems to really be missing Edwin Encarnacion. His last start against the Cardinals came back in April of 2014 where he allowed 3 runs over six innings. He is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 33 innings of work in Busch Stadium. His biggest foe on the Cardinals has been Yadier Molina who has a .524 average with a home run and 5 RBI in 21 at bats.
Game 21: Martinez v TBD
Carlos Martinez (0-3, 4.76 ERA) has struggled for consistent focus since dominating the Cubs on Opening Night. His last time out, he allowed 5 runs over 5 innings against the Brewers as he struggled with his mechanics. There was a distinct difference in his demeanor on the mound in the innings he was locked in versus the innings he struggled. Perhaps that’s the hair and perhaps that’s just post-extension struggles, which is far more likely. Regardless, the Cardinals need him to be locked in so they can carry on with their winning ways. Martinez has made just a single appearance against the Blue Jays, throwing the final two thirds of an inning in that 2014 series against them. Six Blue Jays have faced him before in their careers, but nobody with any sustained success. Morales is 3-for-3 while Russell Martin is 2-for-5.
The Blue Jays have yet to tab a starter for Wednesday’s game, but if they stay on track, this start would go to Mat Latos (0-0, 7.20 ERA) who made his season debut with a 4 run, 5 inning performance against the Los Angeles Angels. Latos signed with the Blue Jays on a minor league deal after spending 2016 with the White Sox and the Nationals. He allowed 1 earned run over 9 innings in two starts in Triple-A this season before getting the call last week when the Jays suffered a pair of injuries in their starting rotation. Latos’ last start against the Cardinals came in 2015 where he allowed 5 runs in 6 innings and took the loss. He is also 2-4 with a 7.68 ERA in 7 starts in Busch Stadium. Molina has led the Cardinals against Latos, hitting .353 with a home run in 34 at bats against him.
Game 22: Wainwright v TBD
Adam Wainwright (1-3, 6.27 ERA) took care of business in his last start. He turned in his best start of the season, allowing 2 earned runs, walked none, and struck out nine over five innings of work. Oh, and he hit a home run and drove in four runs too. Wainwright looked to have the stuff he needed to get outs, he just needs to get more efficient at this point so he can go deeper than five innings and take some of the stress off the bullpen. Wainwright has made one start against the Blue Jays in his career. Back in 2010 he allowed 4 earned runs over four innings of work as he took the loss. Martin leads the Jays against him, Martin has hit .367 with a home run in 30 career at bats against him.
If the Jays stay on order, it will be Casey Lawrence (0-2, 7.56 ERA) taking the mound in the series finale against the Cardinals. His last outing against the Angels was his first start of the season and he allowed four earned runs over 6.1 innings pitched. Last season, Lawrence posted a 4.17 ERA over 28 starts between the Double-A and Triple-A levels before getting called up before the Jays’ fifth game of the season. If you’re keeping track at home, Lawrence has already been optioned out and called up twice since the start of the season. Since he made his debut in 2017, Lawrence has yet to face any Cardinals batters.
Kolten Wong has quietly been taking advantage of the opportunity to be the Cardinals’ regular second baseman. Over the past week he has hit .333/.455/.556 with 4 runs scored and 4 runs driven in. There is also Jedd Gyorko who is hitting .429 with four extra base hits in the past week.
For the Blue Jays I’ve got to go with Kevin Pillar who his hitting .370/.393/.704 with 2 home runs over the past week. Ezequiel Carerra also gets a nod, having hit .353/.389/.647 with a homer.
After looking like he was on the verge of breaking out of his early season struggles, Stephen Piscotty went quiet last week, hitting .143/.280/.143 over the past week.
Jose Bautista, who settled for a one year deal with options with the Blue Jays after reportedly desiring a large multi-year deal in free agency over the winter, hasn’t found any traction this season yet. He is hitting .125/.250/.250 over the past week.
On the shelf
Jhonny Peralta went on the disabled list at the beginning of the series with the Brewers due to an upper respiratory issue. There is still no update on when he may return, though he will be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 26th. John Gant is also expected to be nearing a return to the mound, but will likely stay in Memphis once he returns.
For the Blue Jays, a bad season has definitely gotten worse. In the past week days they’ve placed J.A. Happ (elbow inflammation), Aaron Sanchez (blister), Josh Donaldson (right calf strain), and Troy Tulowitzki (hamstring) on the disabled list. All player who were expected to play a key role for the Blue Jays. And now they will likely have to wait until they have them back before they can put together any kind of sustained run.