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Blue Jays need a big weekend

Well, the bizarre 2020 follies continued last week for Total Bases, as every pitching matchup morphed from what we originally anticipated. Perhaps the only thing that can properly be expected in such a normal season is constant change.

The Toronto Blue Jays certainly know that as well as anybody right now, not even having an official home until next week when Sahlen Field in Buffalo will be ready to host major league action. In the meantime, they also had to endure a full weekend-and-change off due to coronavirus concerns, only returning to the diamond on Tuesday with their series in Atlanta.

Prior to the layoff, the Jays sat at 3-4, but at least they were separated from the AL East cellar, a spot currently occupied by their opponent this weekend, the Boston Red Sox. It has been a tough go in the early going for the Sawx, who are quickly suffering from a patchwork rotation that is just trying to survive without Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and Colin McHugh.

It’s a big series for these two division rivals — perhaps an elimination one. Let’s see how the (thankfully announced) pitching matchups shake out.

Friday

Nate Pearson vs. Ryan Weber: Pearson’s big league debut last week attracted plenty of attention, and with good reason. After plowing through the minors, the 2017 first-round draft pick arrived in style, blanking the defending champion Washington Nationals over five sharp innings that saw him yield only four baserunners and pick up five strikeout. Pearson is definitely the real deal.

His counterpart, Weber, is far from such a label. He only has 13 major league starts to his name and doesn’t inspire much optimism, hence why he holds an 11.57 ERA and 2.43 WHIP through his first two assignments this year. However, he did somewhat hang in there in his most recent outing against the New York Yankees and if Pearson overpowers again, that may churn out a low final score. UNDER

Saturday

Hyun Jin Ryu vs. Zack Godley: This old NL West encounter could serve as a springboard for a healthy amount of runs. Here’s why: Ryu, a Cy Young candidate as recent as a year ago, hasn’t looked too hot in his new uniform, with an average velocity that is down a tick or two across the board from years’ past. Evidently, he’s undergoing a decline.

Godley, meanwhile, is getting his second starting nod as a member of the Red Sox. Though he does have a recent 15-win campaign, it appears that might go down as the peak of his career. There’s a reason the right-hander was recently jettisoned by three teams and a stint in Fenway Park doesn’t figure to help, at least while Godley is still adjusting to his new digs. OVER

Sunday

Matt Shoemaker vs. Nathan Eovaldi: Shoemaker looked very impressive in his 2020 debut — which was the first major league start he made in more than a full calendar year. Shoemaker’s 2019 ended very abruptly (and unluckily) after a torn ACL put him on the shelf, but before that, he was 3-0 with a stingy 1.57 ERA in five starts. The former Los Angeles Angel’s first start back indicates perhaps he’s returning to that round form.

Eovaldi will serve as the opposing hurler, looking to keep up his own solid work as the lone bright spot on Boston’s pitching staff. Though his strikeouts were down, the veteran righty did surrender only three runs combined in his first pair of starts, leading me to believe more good work is ahead while serving as the rotation leader. UNDER