The Jays head to the Windy City for the second of three series they'll play against the White Sox, after which we head into the All-Star break. Toronto took two of three from the South Siders in their first matchup, but face one of baseball's hottest teams coming off a sweep of the Rangers. Plus, Youk!
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Friday: Jake Peavy v. Aaron Laffey
Jake Peavy has thrown one more inning to date than he did all of last season. So far in 2012 he's: walked the same number of batters (as he did in 2011), struck out 6 more batters, allowed 1 more home run, allowed 29 fewer hits, and consequently, allowed 24 fewer runs. You can take that to mean a bunch of different things, but to me it basically indicates Peavy's pitching about the same as last year, just getting a lot more hit lucky. Which he is, with a BABIP of .256 as opposed to last year's mark of .317. His LOB% has also increased dramatically, and as a result Peavy has a sparkling 2.96 ERA, which somehow still couldn't get him in the All-Star game (he came second in the final vote.. Anyway, Peavy's peripherals are actually pretty good, striking out over 8 and walking fewer than 2 per 9 innings, while allowing fewer than 1 dinger. So far this is also the most innings Peavy's thrown since 2008. Good for you Jake. Peavy's been around forever (he made his debut in 2002) and had a potential Hall of Fame type career path (throw a lot of innings, start early), making at least 27 starts from his age 22 to 27 seasons. Things started to unravel after that though, as I just alluded to; in 2009 Peavy strained a tendon in the back of his ankle, then after a trade to Chicago subsequently suffered back and general fatigue/conditioning problems. Peavy has an $18 million club option for next season (well, $22 mil with $4 mil buyout). I wonder if the White Sox bring him back on that. Anyway, Peavy throws an array of fastballs - a cutter, 2-seamer and 4-seamer, to go with the slider-curve-change. He throws the 4-seamer the most of the fastballs, and it goes from about 90-93 at this stage, while the two seamer is around 90-91, and the cutter in the mid-80s. The slider and the changeup come in at roughly the same speed, 80-83, while the curve is in the high-70s; all of the pitches are capable of generating swings and misses. Since becoming a White Sock Peavy has used his 2-seamer, which sinks, much less, instead relying on his other pitches and upping his curveball count. Historically his fastball and slider have been his best pitches, and this year is no different, with the fastball ranking in the top 5 in value and the slider in the top 20 (of 99 qualified starters). Lifetime Jose Bautista is 1/12, Edwin Encarnacion 2/12, and Old Man Vizquel 8/34; no current Jay has ever homered off Peavy.
Saturday: Ricky Romero vs. Gavin Floyd.
Gavin Floyd is not yet, in fact, a Blue Jay (the website appears to be down, alas). He would fit right in with the Jays staff though, in terms of bein inconsistent. Floyd has now made 16 starts, in which he's allowed 2-3 earned runs exactly once, which I wager is nigh impossible, especially when you consider his 4.91 ERA and 6 IP per start indicate he should be allowing just over 3 runs a start. Instead Floyd has 6 starts of 0 or 1 runs, and 6 starts of 5 or more runs. I am not quite sure why Floyd's numbers are this bad - and they are relatively bad, given that few teams are hitting much. His K/BB ratio is 3/1, and he strikes out plenty, and his BABIP is right around .300. Floyd is a relative fly ball pitcher, and has always allowed his share of home runs, which is mainly what has prevented him from the potential to be great. A mystery. Floyd goes 4/2/Cut, with the 4-searmer hitting 94 and the 2-seamer 93; both reside around 91 on average, while the cutter (which he only really started throwing last year) comes in 84-88. Floyd will throw about 5 change ups a game, and a lot of 80 MPH curve balls. Anyway, you should basically just expect to see 4-seamers, cutters and curve balls, with the cutter being the money pitch, so to speak. Career: Jose Bautista is 1/9, Rajai Davis 3/10, Ben Francisco 4/15, Adam Lind 6/13. Adam Lind and Omar Vizquel (2/6) are the only Jays with homers off Floyd.
Sunday: Brett Cecil vs. TBA
TBA's had a pretty lousy season so far, getting rocked to the tune of...
We're missing them, so I won't speak at length, but it's worth noting that Chris Sale (who is going to the ASG) has been phenomenal, while Jose Quintana has been very good (but in a flukier way).
Also I never talk about bullpens, but the White Sox bullpen is essentially all rookies at the moment; Matt Thornton is the one veteran, but pretty much everyone else, led by closer Addison Reed, is a rookie born between 1984-1986. I think this is probably about as good a bet as paying the Francisco Corderos of the world in free agency. Zing.
Alejandro De Aza CF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Adam Dunn DH
Paul Konerko 1B
Alex Rios RF
AJ Pierzynski C
Dayan Viciedo LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Gordon Beckham 2B
The White Sox don't tinker a ton with their lineup; their guys are their guys, basically. Tyler Flowers will probably get a start at catcher, maybe on Sunday against Romero. The White Sox only lefties are Dunn, De Aja and Pierzynski, and they aren't about to sit even with three lefties on tap (when was the last time this happened with the Jays?)
Kevin Youkilis is obviously the big news of late in White Sox land. The Red Sox are paying most of the freight, and in return got Brett Lillibridge and old friend Zach Stewart. As a White Sock Youkilis is hitting .308/.357/.487, a significant improvement on his Boston numbers, though it's only been 10 games. He even had the game winning home run yesterday! Because sportswriters are sportswriters, Youkilis is immediately being credited with turning the club around thanks to his grittiness. I imagine the Jays could have paid the price that the White Sox did, though I suppose the Red Sox may have been reticent to trade him inside the division. Plus, who knows if the Jays actually care about spending money/improving... Speaking of old friends, Alex Rios quietly doesn't suck anymore again. He leads White Sox position players in WAR, and is hitting .316/.350/.511 and is on pace for a 20-20 season. The 100 point BABIP jump probably helps, but those are solid numbers... Adam Dunn is doing Adam Dunn-y things, striking out 36% of the time, walking 18% of the time and homering 7% of the time. Three true outcomes! I don't know how Dunn is in the All-Star Game. It is kind of disgraceful really, given that he is the worst defender in baseball, likely (the White Sox, smartly, don't really let him play the field)... Paul Konerko is also in Kansas City next week, and he's been solid if unspectacular, with a .332/.408/.540 line. Actually that's pretty good. Pierzynski's hitting too, .287/.335/.524.
Infirmary: Brian Bruney (RP) is on the 15-day DL with hip inflammation; Jesse Crain (RP) is also on the 15-day with shoulder tightness, he could be back by the end of the month. John Danks (SP) is due back around the beginning of August, with a shoulder strain, Phil "Perfect Game" Humber is also strained, in his throwing elbow, and could be back by the end of the month. Brent Morel (3B) is rehabbing a back strain, with a return date of TBD.
Song to Advance Scout By: In honour of Peavy (should we really be honouring opposing players? Feel free to discuss in the comments) Comeback Kid, by Sleigh Bells. Because, really, who doesn't love noise pop?
Chart: All data from Fangraphs.