Blue Jays series preview (brief)

By Jason Wojciechowski on August 9, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I lied on Twitter. Here's a very brief preview.

The A's are in Toronto tonight through Thursday, with start times of 4pm, 4pm, and 9:30 am Pacific.

Pitching matchups:

  1. Rich Harden vs. Brett Cecil
  2. Gio Gonzalez vs. Brad Mills
  3. Guillermo Moscoso vs. Brandon Morrow

Brett Cecil is a below-average (4.44 PECOTA rest-of-season ERA) bespectacled lefty. His walk and strikeout numbers are unremarkable, but he will give up homers, in no small part because he gives up a lot of fly balls. The A's, of course, are uniquely well-positioned not to take advantage of this weakness.

Brad Mills is the manager of the Astros. I have no idea why he's pitching.

Brandon Morrow is a righty with a 2.90 FIP but a 4.51 ERA. Despite that good mark this year and a 3.13 FIP last year, PECOTA thinks he ain't all that, figuring a 3.89 ERA the rest of the way. (ZiPS is a tad more optimistic at 3.64.) Morrow is also a pretty extreme flyballer (36.9% GB for his career, per Fangraphs), but his whiff rate is where he makes his money: he is second in baseball only to Clayton Kershaw in strikeout percentage. Add that to a basically average walk rate and a homer figure that doesn't look bad at all, and you start thinking that maybe he's just had some bad luck with sequencing -- his strand rate, again per Fangraphs, is just 63.3%, third-lowest in the league. If he can't pitch out of the stretch, it's a problem he just acquired this year, as his career rate (counting this season) is basically 71%, also known as "a hair below a typical league average."

On offense, the A's should watch out for that Bautista kid. He's pretty good. Also, Brett Lawrie is hitting 455/455/727.

Fine, the joke is that he's only had 11 PAs, but still: he was Baseball America's #40 prospect coming into the year and that was before he hit 353/415/661 at AAA Las Vegas. Take as much air as you want out of that line and it's still very good. Also: he's 21.

A's take one of three, and that one is not the Brandon Morrow start.