Brett Lawrie makes his (figurative) return to Milwaukee as the Jays make their way to the Badger State for their penultimate interleague series of 2012. By my count Toronto is 6-6 so far against the Senior Circuit, and the Brewers and Marlins (next series) are the two weakest foes the Jays will face, so they stand a decent chance of posting a winning record against the NL, a heretofore rare occurrence for the boys in blue. With that being said, as of right now MLB.com lists the Jays Tuesday and Wednesday starters as TBD, and the Jays have lost 10 straight in Milwaukee going back to 1996, so really, anything is possible.
There still aren't announced starters for the Jays on Tuesday and Wednesday (I wrote this part several hours after the previous part). I haven't looked at all the possibilities re: who's pitched when in AAA, AA, but I would assume that Laffey/Villanueva/Perez get at least one of the starts, possibly in tandem. The Jays just purchased Shawn Hill's contract. He's been pitching in independent baseball, and I doubt he'd be ready that soon.
Monday: Henderson Alvarez vs. Randy Wolf
Randy Wolf keeps chugging along, continuing to prove that it's just as important to be left-handed as it is to be good. In the last year of a three-year, $29.75 million contract, Wolf hasn't posted a FIP below 3.95 since 2002, despite pitching in the National League for the duration of his career. He is your proverbial innings eater though, breaking 200 innings six times so far in his career, a mark he is on pace to equal again this year. He's a classic four pitch pitcher, at least depending on how you qualify different fastballs. He throws 2 and 4-seamers, as well as a cut fastball, in the mid to high 80s; overall the heaters, which he throws on half of his pitches, average out at 88 mph. As he's aged Wolf has take to throwing his 83 mph slider more and more, using it about once every five pitches this year; he throws his curve ball in about the same proportion. At 68 mph, it's the slowest hook in the majors, amongst qualified starters. A high 70s change rounds out Wolf's arsenal. We won't see his brother Jim Wolf umpire this series, as he recuses himself from games in which his brother's team plays. In his last two starts Wolf has gone 6.2 and 7, allowing 1 run and one unearned run, respectively. Lifetime KJ is 3/12, Encarnacion 1/11, Vizquel 5/14 and Rasmus 4/7.
Tuesday: ??? vs. Shaun Marcum
The Jays face old friend Shaun Marcum for the first time since trading him to the Brewers. While much has been made of Lawrie's success in Toronto, the Brewers did make the playoffs last year with Marcum (even if he was awful in the post-season), and in Milwaukee he's now thrown 280+ innings of sub-3.80 FIP baseball (his ERA is even better, at around 3.45). Marcum is still pretty close to the same pitcher he was in Toronto, though some of his patterns have changed. He throws 2 and 4-seamers, as well as a cutter, change, curve and slider. Against righties Marcum will throw the cutter (85 mph) and the curve (73 mph) and slider (80 mph). Against lefties he relies on the change (80 MPH), as well as the fastballs (the 4-seamer is a little harder than the 2-seamer, cumulatively they're around 84-90 mph) avoiding his slider. The slider is still wicked, and the change up is a very solid weapon, while the cutter has been good historically. With Marcum a free agent at the end of the season and the Brewers essentially out of it, Marcum could be shipped out at some point. As you might surmise, no current Jays have a particular robust sample against Marcum.
Wednesday: ??? vs. Yovani Gallardo
The third member of Milwaukee's putative Big Three (along with Zach Grienke), Gallardo has regressed a bit this season. He's struck out more than a batter an inning for his career, a mark he's hitting exactly on the nose so far this year, but his walk rate has risen to 3.9/9 IP (1/10 batters) from 2.56/9 IP last season. He's not especially effective at limiting home runs, and has about an average BABIP, so the results are an ERA over 4, the first time he's done that in his career (the second time he's had a FIP over 4). Still only 26, Gallardo will pass the 800 inning career mark against the Jays assuming he doesn't get shelled. Gallardo has pretty decent heat, but mostly relies on a varied repertoire to keep hitters off-balance. His 4-seam fastball can run up to 96 (94.5 in his last start), while his two-seamer/cutter runs 87-93. He throws a hard slider, which can hit 89 mph but sits closer to 87, with a hard curve that usually breaks 80 mph. He used to throw a change up, but has basically phased it out. The fastball and the slider are the plus pitches, though. Gallardo has 9 career home runs and is over the Mendoza line in over 200 career at bats, so throw him cheese at your own peril. Red-Hot Rasmus is 4/13 with a home run and 4 walks career, Edwin is 2/8, albeit with 2 dingers, and KJ 1/9.
Norichika Aoki RF
Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
C Ransom SS
Martin Maldonado C
George Kottaras will catch a game; regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy has a fractured right hand is out until at least July, which is a blow as he was hitting .345/.387/.583... Aoki is a former Tokyo Yakult Swallow, and one of four players to break the 200 hit barrier in the NPB. He's hitting a pretty solid .287/.353/.446. In the outfield he's quick, but with a weak arm... Corey Hart has seen time in right and at first, but with Mat Gamel out for the year and Travis Ishikawa on the DL, he has taken over first, especially given Aoki's strong play in right. The Brewers have used 9 players at 1st this year, and none have played more than 21 games there... Ryan Braun gets booed everywhere, which he accepts. I think opposing fans are just upset he's has an OPS over 1.000; he's 6th in wOBA... Rickie Weeks is 5th in all-star voting for second base in the NL. This despite hitting .177 in 273 at bats. He's dropped from first to, well, not first in the order, hitting as low as 6th recently.
Infirmary: Jonathan Lucroy (C) has a broken hand, Mat Gamel (1B) and Alex Gonzalez (SS) are both out with the year with torn knee ligaments. Marco Estrada (P) is about to begin a rehab assignment, Travis Ishikawa (1B) is on a rehab assignment and could be back next series, ditto for Cesar Izturis (SS). Chris Narveson (P) is out for the year with shoulder surgery, while Jose Veras (RP) could be back tonight.
Song to Advance Scout By: I think this is how we've all been feeling with regards to recent rotation woes! Technically the rules are that I should have used the same artist as the Phillies series, but since that wasn't technically an Advance Scout, the deck is clear. We might run into problems though if the Jays sweep Milwaukee...
Chart: A mess this week! I threw Villanueva in there cause I think he starts, but otherwise, who knows! All data from Fangraphs.