The Blue Jays, who are 51-57, are in a much different position. They had high hopes at the start of 2017, but now find themselves in fifth place in the AL East with the playoff nearly out of reach.
This teams split the first series played back in July, but the Astros are the much stronger ballclub and should prevail this weekend.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Houston Astros
Dates: Friday, August 4, 2017 – Sunday, August 6, 2017
Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
The Astros were swept by Tampa Bay this week so getting back in the winning column will be their No. 1 objective. But, beyond that the biggest question for Houston right now is the did the team make the right moves this week before the trade deadline? The Astros, who were rumored to be interested in Justin Verlander among others, did not engage in a blockbuster trade to supplement its already robust roster. Their only move was acquiring lefty Francisco Liriano from the Blue Jays in a deal for outfielders Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez. Liriano hasn’t had the strongest season so far this year, but he will add depth to the bullpen which has been riddled with injuries.
For the Blue Jays, the loss of Liriano and reliever Joe Smith to Cleveland makes an already thin pitching rotation that much more sparse. Toronto is not in the midst of a complete rebuild, with hopes of making a run next season, but it doesn’t really have the pieces to catch the Rays, Yankees or Red Sox atop the AL East anymore.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Friday, August 3, 2017, 8:10 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Brad Peacock (Astros) vs. Cesar Valdez (Blue Jays)
Peacock was made a starter for the Astros again this week after Lance McCullers was placed on the disabled list with a back injury. Peacock has fluctuated between a starting spot and coming in as long reliever for Houston this season, but he’s been strong in both spots. He has a 2.62 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched this season and has 101 strikeouts.
Valdez will be looking for a chance to redeem himself after earning a start this week against this strong Astros offense. He allowed seven runs, included six earned on seven hits and a walk in two innings pitched against the Angels on July 30th. He has an ERA over 5 and 1.44 WHIP in 18 innings pitched this season.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Saturday, August 4, 2017, 7:10 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Charlie Morton (Astros) vs. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)
Morton is 9-5 this season and comes into this series off strong performances against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. He allowed just two runs on two hits and three walks with five strikeouts in six innings against the Rays on Monday and now boasts an ERA of 3.77. He’s been sharp since his return from the disabled list in early July.
Estrada leads the Blue Jays in strikeouts this season with 127 in 121.1 innings pitched. He’s allowed just two runs on seven hits in his last two outings, combining for 12 innings pitched against the White Sox and the A’s. The 34-year-old has been up and down this season, and enters this series with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Sunday, August 6, 2017, 2:10 p.m. ET (Local TV)
Mike Fiers (Astros) vs. Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays)
Fiers did not fare well against the Blue Jays the last time around and, after a season where he has struggled at times on the mound, he’ll be eager to get another crack at them on Sunday. Fiers allowed five hits in six innings in that game against the Blue Jays last month and a three-run home run by Josh Donaldson did him in as the Astros lost 7-2. Fiers has a 3.97 ERA.
Stroman is 10-5 on the season with a 3.19 ERA. The Blue Jays pitched well against Houston in the first series between the two teams and will look to repeat that performance this weekend. In his most recent outing against the White Sox on Tuesday, the 26-year-old allowed four runs on seven hits with a walk in seven innings pitched. Stroman is a talented hurler but must be at the top of his game since Houston’s offense is so dynamic.