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Series Preview: Texas Rangers @ Toronto Blue Jays - Progress Report

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I am the walrus
I am the walrus

This is going to be brief because I woke up this morning with the worst case of food poisoning of my life. These sentences are coming in fits and starts between periods of regretting every decision that I've ever made that led me to this point.

The Rangers close out a very successful month of April tonight in Toronto. The Rangers are 16-6 which is tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball. The other team in Los Angeles--that is actually in Anaheim--is 7-15 which is just good enough for the second worst record in baseball. With the Mariners and A's struggling to stay above .500, the Rangers currently enjoy the largest division lead in baseball at 5.5 games. That's nearly as perfect as you could write up a start to a season.

But then you'd write that Albert Pujols has a .561 OPS with 0 home runs and only 4 RBIs and no one would believe your crazy story anymore.

The game tonight is the beginning of a ten game road trip for the Rangers. They have these three in Toronto, three in Cleveland, and four in Baltimore. So, as long as Josh Hamilton's back is actually fine and the team stays healthy, there's no reason to believe the Rangers will return home on the May 11 to face the Angels for the first time this season any worse for wear.

It all begins tonight with Yu Darvish making his Canadian debut. There was a time when it seemed everyone believed Darvish would be pitching every five days up north. During the best kept baseball secret of the Twitter era, nearly all rumors, assumptions, and educated guesses had the Jays winning the posting for Darvish's services. The Jays had made a bid, were clearly interested, had scouted Darvish, and were thought to be sitting on massive wealth from ownership just waiting for the right player to come along. The Rangers had been floating to the media that they were practically broke.

With Toronto fans feeling confident, this all led to a maddening time when fringe Jays bloggers were congratulating themselves for breaking the story that Darvish would be a Blue Jay nearly every night during the posting process. Of course, the Rangers won the posting. Yu Darvish is coming off a near complete game 10 K shutout of the New York Yankees and the Blue Jays have Drew Hutchison in the rotation instead. So, in a way, the Rangers are already 1-0 over the Jays this season.

Monday, April 30 6:07: RHP Yu Darvish vs. RHP Kyle Drabek

Tuesday, May 01 6:07: RHP Neftali Feliz vs. RHP Drew Hutchison

Wednesday, May 02 11:37 am: LHP Matt Harrison vs. LHP Ricky Romero

Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against our neighbors from the north, the Toronto Blue Jays:

  • Yu Darvish: 3-0, 8.31 K/9, 5.19 BB/9, .333 BABIP, 81.4% LOB, 3.06 FIP, 4.06 xFIP, 0.7 WAR
  • Kyle Drabek: 2-1, 6.75 K/9, 4.88 BB/9, .226 BABIP, 94.5% LOB, 5.24 FIP, 4.15 xFIP, 0.0 WAR

Advantage: Yu Darvish came to pitch in America, damn it! over Kyle Drabek wondering what Kasey Kiker is up to these days.

  • Neftali Feliz: 1-1, 6.00 K/9, 3.43 BB/9, .190 BABIP, 78.1% LOB, 4.14 FIP, 4.79 xFIP, 0.3 WAR
  • Drew Hutchison: 1-0 5.23 K/9, 3.48 BB/9, .343 BABIP, 74.1% LOB, 5.76 FIP, 4.69 xFIP, -0.1 WAR

Advantage: Neftali Feliz has better peripherals and rate stats but Drew Hutchison has better luck stats. I'll take Feliz considering he has more than 11 innings above Double A.

  • Matt Harrison: 3-1 5.40 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, .322 BABIP, 75.3% LOB, 3.29 FIP, 3.44 xFIP, 0.7 WAR
  • Ricky Romero: 3-0 6.09 K/9, 3.44 BB/9, .215 BABIP, 73.2% LOB, 3.98 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 0.5 WAR

Advantage: I have nightmares of Ricky Romero pitching against the Rangers whereas Matt Harrison has nightmares after reading Goosebumps' 'The Werewolf of Fever Swamp'.


Toronto Blue Jays (12-10, 4th Place AL East)

Rangers 2011 Record vs. Toronto: 4-6

Toronto's Recent Results: 2-1 series win against the Seattle Mariners

Toronto's Home Record: 6-6 (42-39 in 2011)

Rogers Centre Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 114/116 - wOBA: 100/100

SB Nation Blue Jays Blog: Bluebird Banter

Match-up: (as of 04/29) Rangers Blue Jays Advantage
Batting (RAR) 30.0 (1st) -2.4 (17th) Rangers
Base Running (RAR) -0.5 (17th) 2.2 (7th) Blue Jays
Starters (RAR) 16.2 4.2 Rangers
Bullpen (RAR) 14.7 (1st) -0.1 (24th) Rangers
Defense (UZR) 9.1 (4th) -0.7 (18th) Rangers
Overall (UZR + RAR) 69.5 3.2 Rangers

Questions to Answer:

  • Who is your favorite Toronto Blue Jay of all time? (I sure liked Devon "Devo" White.)
  • Who is your pick to hit the most Great White North dongs in this series? (I'm hoping Nelson Cruz gets back on track.)
  • Over/Under: 6.5 references to Game 6 by ESPN's broadcast of the game tonight?
  • On a scale from 1-10, how relevant are the Toronto Blue Jays these days? A solid 4, maybe?
  • Who was the Rangers' most valuable hitter and most valuable pitcher in the month of April by your estimation?