We welcome back the Advance Scout as the Jays wrap up their season series against the A's with their only visit to Whateveritscallednow Coliseum. So far this year the teams have split a pair of three game series in Toronto, the most recent of which was last week. Since the All-Star Break the Jays are 18-13, and are playing extremely consistent baseball with few highs and lows - their longest win streak was three games, and their longest losing streak two. Meanwhile the A's are 16-15 in the same time period, though interestingly they've been doing it more with the bats than with the arms, a reversal of the beginning of the year. What else? We'll find out next, on Advance Scout.
Thursday: Ricky Romero v. Tim Cahill
The Jays missed Cahill last time around, though he shut them down at the beginning of the year, limiting them to a solitary run over eight innings. Cahill hasn't been able to match his superlative 2010 season, thanks to a normal batted ball rate - .290 v. .236 - and as a result his ERA has risen by a run, though he's decreased his FIP and xFIP by a bit, and all three numbers are hovering around 3.90. Cahill doesn't strike out a ton, and he gives up his share of walks, but where he really excels in is keeping the ball on the ground, as he's in the top six in the majors in both GB% and GB/FB ratio. Despite this being his third year in the majors he's still just 23. Cahill doesn't throw especially hard, averaging around 89 MPH with his sinking fastball, which is about 10 MPH faster than his change up. Still he gets a decent number of swinging strikes. His second best pitch after his fastball is a low 80s slider; more commonly he'll mix in a mediocre curveball in the high 70s, with the occasional slider against righties. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are the only Jays with more than 10 at bats, and they've both been mediocre.
Friday: Brett Cecil v. Rich Harden
Canadian Rich Harden has only been up in the bigs since the beginning of July, thanks to one of a plethora of recurring injuries. He remains an A despite a myriad of trade deadline rumours, and while he limited the Blue Jays to one run when they played at Skydome last week, he has been mediocre overall in his 46 innings. He still strikes out a lot of batters, but walks nearly 4 per 9 innings and gives up a lot of line drives. He no longer throws mid-90s heat, settling in comfortably in the low-90s instead. He also throws a sort of knuckle splitter with lots of movement, as well as a change up that no longer counts as a plus pitch. Once in a blue moon he'll mix in a slider. Yunel Escobar is 4 for 8 with a walk, Jose Bautista 1/5 with 3 BB, and Adam Lind is 0/6 with 5 Ks.
Saturday: Henderson Alvarez v. Gio Gonzalez
I'm not quite sure how Gio Gonzalez does it. He's always struck out batters, averaging close to a batter an inning over his career, but he walks about 4.5 in the same time period, and he's doing the same this year. He has been successful at keeping the ball in the park and on the ground, but not to an inordinate degree. The lefty gets a lot of swings and misses with his fastball, which comes in hard at around 92-93 and has measured as one of the best in baseball this year. He'll mix in the occasional low 80s change up, but his outpitch is a superd, 10-4 breaking curveball with two-plane movement. He hasn't been quite as successful with it this year, but it's a strong pitch overall. Adam Lind is 4 for 11 lifetime against Gonzalez.
Sunday: Brad Mills v. Guillermo Moscoso
Moscoso has skated by on smoke and mirrors so far in his first extended big league stint. The 28 year old strikes out fewer than 5 per 9 and walks over 3, and gives up a ton of fly balls. A .237 BABIP and a miniscule FB/HR% will do that for you though; don't look for the success to continue though. Like most of the other Athletics, Moscoso goes fastball-curve-change, in about that order, with the fastball coming in a 90 and the other two 10 MPH slower. The Jays could only muster 3 hits the first time they faced Moscoso last week.
On the offensive side of the ledger the Athletics have been bad, the 3rd worst hitting team in the AL this year, mustering up a lowly .247/.315/.369 (or about 8% worse than Juan Rivera). Three of the four worst hitting teams reside in the AL West (you should be able to figure which are which), draw your own conclusions. The only bright spot has been Josh Willingham, who's hitting .249/.331/.473; he's the only A with more than 12 home runs. Given that Willingham is a 32 year old journeyman, this may fall into mixed blessing territory. Rookie Jemile Weeks is flitting around a .300 batting average, though he walks about twice a month and has a .347 BABIP. So overall, pretty depressing. First baseman Brandon Allen is up with the A's after raking for three straight years in AAA, he might get a start or two as Conor Jackson is experiencing neck tightness.
Infirmary: Brett Anderson (Tommy John surgery, out for season), Dallas Braden (left shoulder, out for season), Conor Jackson (stiff neck, day-to-day,) Michael Wurtz (thumb, 15 day DL)
Credit: All stats from fangraphs.com