The Blue Jays made ripples in the water by acquiring Francisco Liriano just a few days ago. The Jays didn’t sit dormant and pursued the former Pittsburgh Pirate. There are Blue Jays’ fans in two camps. One of which, is asking what the hell is management doing? Liriano is over the hill and done. And the other is thinking a change of scenery might be the medicine he needs to find his groove. Liriano hasn’t exactly been pitching too well this season, but he had plenty of success over the last few seasons. The Blue Jays are hoping to reignite the flame and get Liriano back to being a force. This will be he his first start with Toronto.
While some Blue Jays’ fans are asking why? I know a great percentage are scratching their heads at the decision to move Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen, or are they? On Thursday John Gibbons must have had a chance of heart, because he said Sanchez is going to be sticking in the starting rotation. All that controversy for not. The Blue Jays will opt for a six-man rotation, with Liriano being the new guy on board. Smart move for more than one reason. Could you image if Liriano stunk up the joint, while Sanchez is sitting over there in the bullpen? Moreover, what if the move messed with Sanchez’s psyche, potentially throwing him out of the fantastic rhythm he’s found himself in. I think they came to their senses and made the right decision with this one.
The move also could have fragmented the clubhouse. Russell Martin spoke out against the move Tuesday, with little to no support for moving Sanchez to the bullpen. Rightfully so, Sanchez has posted a 2.71 ERA this season and has been the best option in the Blue Jay rotation. Toronto will continue to monitor his pitch count, but it would have been insane to put those numbers in the bullpen. Meanwhile the Kansas City Royals have completely fallen out of contention in the American League Central. The Tigers and Indians are going to duel it out down the stretch. With the Royals 8.5 games, in 4th in the division, their title defense appears to be done. We’ll see how they handle Liriano in his first start with the Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Kansas City Royals
Francisco Liriano (6-11, 3.16 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (3-5, 4.66 ERA)
After spending his career in New York with the Mets for five seasons, Dillon Gee came over to the Royals. Gee is your average middle of the row type of pitcher. He is vanilla as they come. Gee’s best full year came in 2013, where he posted a 3.64 ERA. In his last season with the Mets, he hit a career high ERA of 5.90. He’s been trying to weave his way through injuries and inconsistences, this season posting a 4.66 ERA up to today. Gee yielded a 6.75 ERA and 1.77 across his last three starts. Playing in the National League his entire career, he doesn’t have much history against the Jays. In the 6.2 innings he’s pitched against the Blue Jays, Gee finished with an ERA of 4.05 and 1.35 WHIP. Those numbers are literally the story of his career, too many ERA figures above 4.00 that he would have hoped for.
As we noted earlier, Liriano has not been looking good this year, coming into Toronto with a 5.46 ERA under his belt in 2016. A far cry from the previous years, where he posted a 3.02 ERA in 2013, 3.38 in 2014, and 3.38 again in 2015. Consistence he was, until he hit a wall in Pittsburgh. His WHIP has also been in the toilet, with a mark of 1.62 walks and hits per inning. It’s going to be interesting if he can get back to sub 4.00 ERA baseball. I don’t think he gets handled in this matchup, but I see both Liriano and Gee getting abused enough to push the total OVER 9 runs on Friday night.
PICK: OVER 9 RUNS (+105)