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Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

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The Reds head north of the border for a three-game series with the Blue Jays.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati heads to Toronto tonight coming off a pretty successful week. While the team is 24-25, they find themselves just 2.5 games back of the NL Central-leading Brewers. They’ll look to keep their recent run of solid play going against the Blue Jays.

Toronto has had a start to the season they’d like to forget. A long list of injuries and poor play has the team 23-27 and in last place in the AL East. This is a far cry from what most fans expected from the team this season. To be fair, they’re 6-4 in their last 10 games, so their play has been better of late.

Let’s get you ready for Cincinnati vs. Toronto, otherwise known as The Joey Votto Bowl.

Last Season & What's Ahead

The Blue Jays finished 2016 with an 89-73 record. That left them tied for second in the AL East, but it was good enough to earn a Wild Card birth. Toronto knocked off the Orioles in the AL Wild Card Game. They then swept Texas in the Division Series, but ultimately lost to Cleveland in the ALCS (4-1).

Baseball Prospectus projects Toronto to go 56-56 in their remaining games. FanGraphs is a little more optimistic with a 60-52 projection.

Notable New Faces

Kendrys Morales

Steve Pearce

J.P. Howell

Joe Smith

Fare Thee Well

Edwin Encarnacion

R.A. Dickey

Michael Saunders

Brett Cecil

Joaquin Benoit

Scott Feldman

You can read a full review of Toronto’s offseason here.

The Lineup

Kevin Pillar - CF (.289/.341/.469, 7 HR, 30 R, 13 RBI, 8 SB)

Josh Donaldson - 3B (.303/.40/.576, 2 HR, 5 R, 4 RBI, 0 SB)

Jose Bautista - RF (.236/.352/.433, 9 HR, 32 R, 26 RBI, 0 SB)

Kendrys Morales - DH (.251/.304/.456, 9 HR, 21 R, 26 RBI, 0 SB)

Justin Smoak - 1B (.279/.345/.552, 11 HR, 26 R, 30 RBI, 0 SB)

Russell Martin - C (.206/.358/.320, 3 HR, 15 R, 7 RBI, 0 SB)

Troy Tulowitzki - SS (.271/.323/.390, 1 HR, 6 R, 10 RBI, 0 SB)

Devon Travis - 2B (.250/.284/.431, 4 HR, 20 R, 19 RBI, 4 SB)

Ezequiel Carrera - LF (.269/.321/.369, 3 HR, 13 R, 12 RBI, 2 SB)

Chris Coghlan has also been getting starts in LF recently.

Key Injuries

J.A. Happ - left elbow inflammation (he could return this series)

Francisco Liriano - left shoulder inflammation

Steve Pearce - right calf strain

Dalton Pompey - concussion

Aaron Sanchez - blister

The Pitchers (for this series)

Marcus Stroman (vs. Lisalverto Bonilla) - Monday at 7:07 ET

Stroman comes into this series 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA. In his most recent start, he gave up 4 ER in 5.2 innings against Milwaukee.

TBA (vs. Asher Wojciechowski) - Tuesday at 7:07 ET

MLB.com has the Blue Jays starter listed as TBA for Tuesday. A source* close to the team tells me this is likely to be J.A. Happ on a pitch limit. This would be Happ’s first start since April 16.

Mike Bolsinger (vs. Tim Adleman) - Wednesday at 12:37 ET

Bolsinger is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA (four starts). He’s walking 6.6 batters per nine. This is Joey Votto's dream match up.

*My source is a friend who likes the Blue Jays.

Great Reds vs. Blue Jays Moments in History

There was that one time these two teams made a trade that some Reds fans might have strong opinions about.

There was that one time the Reds tried to trade Jay Bruce to the Blue Jays.

There was that one time the Reds played the Blue Jays in Montreal.

Prediction

The Reds take two out of three and get back to .500.