Most baseball fans thought the Blue Jays would be a dangerous team this year, but nobody could have guessed their lineup would be this potent going into August. Big bats like Edwin Encarnation, Jose Bautista, and Troy Tulowitzki have returned to Toronto yet again to lead the charge. Not only that, but Toronto’s management made some great moves before the trade deadline by acquiring outfielder Melvin Upton and starting pitchers Francisco Liriano, Scott Feldman, and Mike Bolsinger. Toronto hasn’t experienced many huge winning streaks or lengthy losing streaks, and this consistency has put them in a great position for the postseason. They've only faced the Royals in one series this season, which resulted in a three-game sweep of Kansas City in Toronto.
The Royals are going through what most championship teams go through after they win it all: a losing season. The loss of Mike Moustakas to a season-ending injury as well as injuries to Wade Davis, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain haven’t helped, but they're no excuse for a record under .500. The Royals’ starting pitching staff has really been the biggest factor in their downfall this year. Not a single starter has an ERA under 4.00, and none of them have a winning record either. While defense was Kansas City’s calling card last year, it cannot be accomplished with such terrible pitching. The Royals have a long way to go if they want to make the postseason, but they still have a chance if they put the effort in to really turn their season around. They're still one of the best teams in the MLB at home, and no pitcher wants to face Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Kendrys Morales, and Lorenzo Cain all in one outing.
The Royals will send out Yordano Ventura to start the game, arguably their most inconsistent pitcher and undoubtedly their youngest. The 25-year-old currently has a 4.83 ERA and a 6-9 record, which is very good for the team he’s on but very poor when compared to the rest of the league. Ventura has lost five of his last seven outings, and is 1-3 in his last four home starts. Though he hasn’t faced the Blue Jays yet this season, he’s 3-1 against other AL East teams. The fact that he’s 4-3 at home as compared to 2-6 on the road bodes well for this game.
Marcus Stroman, yet another 25-year-old, will take the mound for the Blue Jays when they visit Kansas City on Sunday. Though Stroman has a relatively high 4.74 ERA, he also owns an 8-4 record to go along with 114 strikeouts. Even with these great numbers, Stroman has been just another guy in a Blue Jays rotation that has been absolutely fantastic this season. He pitched a great game against the Royals on July 6, going 8 strong and only allowing two runs on three hits while picking up the victory. He’s 1-2 in his last five road starts, but has actually performed better away from home to the tune of a 4.46 ERA and a 5-3 record.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Ventura has been way too inconsistent this season, and Stroman can clearly pitch well against this Royals team. Take the Blue Jays to steal one on the road by a score of 6-2.