On a personal note: These will be the first games the Cubs play in Toronto that I will not attend in person. I went there for series in 2003, 2008, 2014 and 2022, but it was a bit much to go there two years in a row, especially after the trip to London. Perhaps again in 2025.
For more on the Jays, here’s Tom Dakers, manager of our SB Nation Blue Jays site Bluebird Banter.
So you want to know about the Blue Jays. You might need a psychology major for that.
Starting with the good news: The starting pitching has been good. And, with Hyun Jin Ryu returning from TJS, the team is using a six-man rotation for the next little bit. José Berríos, Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi and Chris Bassitt have all been excellent. On the other hand, Alek Manoah was so bad that the team decided to send him down to the instruction league to figure out his delivery again (the team did the same with Roy Halladay many years ago). He came back quicker than we expected (because Gausman missed a couple of weeks), and though he hasn’t been consistently excellent, he’s been much closer to the Alek we saw last year. Ryu’s first start back was much like a first start after being away for a year. He improved as the game went on.
The bullpen has been very good, if overworked. The additions of Génesis Cabrera and Jordan Hicks have helped with that. And Chad Green is nearly ready to return from his Tommy John recovery.
The bullpen has been overworked (or at least the high-leverage guys have been overworked) because the offense has been, in turn, bad and brutally bad. Over the off-season, the front office decided we needed to go from a team of sluggers to a speed and defense team. The defense has been great, and we have guys who can steal now. But scoring and hitting with runners in scoring position has been an issue. Last year the team averaged 4.78 runs. This year 4.49 runs (when the league is scoring a third of a run a game more than last year).
The biggest problem has been hitting with RISP (.237/.315/.362). Some guys who are ‘middle of the order’ hitters are not hitting at all with RISP. Matt Chapman .229/.331/.331, Brandon Belt .194/.297/.274, and George Springer .218/.314/.248. The only ones hitting with RISP are Bo Bichette (and he’s on the IL) and Vladimir Guerrero (and he’s not hitting anywhere near what we expect overall). The running joke is that Jays fans are waiting until the team has a runner in score position to go to the washroom to be sure they don’t miss any action.
The team called up prospect Davis Schneider and he injected some energy into the team, tying an MLB record with nine hits in his first three games. But the offense, on the whole, has been a disappointment.
The Cubs have played only 12 previous games at Toronto.
Yet that is the most they have played on the road against any American League team not in the AL’s Central Division.
The Cubs have played 11 games at New York and Seattle; 10 at Los Angeles; nine each at Boston, Houston (since it switched to the AL), Oakland and Texas; eight at Baltimore; and a mere five at Tampa Bay.
The Cubs are 4-8 at Toronto, a .333 winning percentage. They have fared worse only at New York (.182, 2-9) and Tampa Bay (.200, 1-4). They also are .333 at Houston (3-6).
Before their first regular-season game at Toronto, in 2003, the Cubs had played five exhibition games there. The first, in 1917, was a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers that raised funds for Canadian war relief in World War I. In 1919, 1925 and 1934, the Cubs took on a local team, the Maple Leafs. In 1943, they faced the Blue Jackets from Great Lakes Naval Base, a team made up of major leaguers. This time, the receipts were to British war victims.
During all of World War II, the Cubs played six games against the team from the naval base, located fewer than 40 miles north of Chicago. They lost five of the six.
(Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)
Probable pitching matchups
Friday: Javier Assad, RHP (1-2, 3.35 ERA, 1.342 WHIP, 4.51 FIP) vs. Jose Berrios, RHP (9-7, 3.38 ERA, 1.191 WHIP, 3.88 FIP)
Saturday: Justin Steele, LHP (13-3, 2.68 ERA, 1.174 WHIP, 3.21 FIP) vs. Chris Bassitt, RHP (11-6, 3.87 ERA, 1.246 WHIP, 4.57 FIP)
Sunday: Jameson Taillon, RHP (7-6, 5.17 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, 4.54 FIP) vs. Hyun Jin Ryu, LHP (0-1, 4.00 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, 4.27 FIP)
Times & TV channels
Friday: 6:07 p.m. CT, Apple TV+ (how to watch). This will be the Cubs’ last game on Apple TV+ this year.
Saturday: 2:07 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Blue Jays market territories)
Sunday: 12:37 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Blue Jays market territories)
The Cubs really need two of three here. So that’s what I’m predicting.
Oh, you want more? Well, the pitching matchups seem favorable to the Cubs, at least after Friday, which will be tough. Defeat Berrios and this should be a series win, and even if not, there’s a really good chance the Cubs can win the weekend games.
The Cubs have Monday off, then host the White Sox for a two-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Tuesday evening.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Blue Jays?
This poll is closed