Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (3 games)
John Farrell will be making his manager debut versus his old team this weekend as the Red Sox travel to the north to play the Toronto Blue Jays. This weekend I feel some great pitching matchups! The Jays will be dealing Josh Johnson, J.A. Happ and R.A. Dickey while the Sox will play Doubront, Lackey and Lester for this three game series. Red Sox new comer David Ross saw his season debut Thursday night in the Yankee series finale and is hoping to see a few more starts in the upcoming weeks as him and Salty battle for the regular starting spot. Looking at game 1 only 7 out of 12 of the Jays hitters have seen Doubront in the past 5 years and only 5 out of 13 of the Sox hitters have faced Johnson. Both pitchers will be making their first start of the year hoping to produce for the bottom of the rotation. Many people including myself did not see Johnson getting the #4 spot as he does have the pitches to be higher up but Gibbons has already said he wants to spread out the pitchers as much as he can. For the Red Sox to win this game they will need to take advantage of Johnson quick as they have been versus the Yankees. Doubront will have to ensure he does not allow Bautista a home run as he has 2 home runs off of him last year. Another Blue Jay batter that has had success off of Doubront is Encarnacion. In his last 9 at bats vs. Doubront he has hit over .500 including a home run and 5 RBIs. Though 5 of the Red Sox hitters have seen Johnson many only few times. Shane Victorino has seen him the most in the past and has hit just under .350 off of him. Both bullpens are struggling for support so expect to see more hits coming in the later innings of all three of these games. Game 2 is one I am quite excited for as I will be there! John Lackey who is making his first start since 2011 after Tommy John surgery knows he is not the only Red Sox looking for a new start but hopes he is back 100%. He will face a new face in Toronto, J.A. Happ who just beat out Romero for the number 5 starter. Over the last couple of years Lackey has pitched just over 100 innings vs. Toronto going 5-7 with a 5.48 ERA. Older Blue Jays are no stranger to this pitcher including Bautista, Davis, Encarnacion, and Lind. To be successful Lackey will need to keep his pitch count to a minimum not wasting too many pitches and walking too many base runners. J.A. Happ is new to almost all the Red Sox batters. He has spent all of his career until now in the National league so it is a rare moment when they meet up. In his 13 innings pitched vs. Boston he is 0-1 with a 6.92ERA and the only batter that has really taken advantage of him in his few at bats is Pedroia who is 3 for 3 against Happ. Game 3 will be my absolute favourite to watch this weekend. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey versus Red Sox ace Jon Lester! In the season debut Dickey had much trouble controlling the knuckler getting it into Arencebia's glove but I am sure that has been a key in practice this week. Jon Lester will be dealing for the Sox as he comes up a great first game versus the Yankees with a strong outing. Lester did have an issue with throwing too many pitches versus the Yankees as he threw almost 100 through the first 5 innings. I think we will see the first 5 innings of this game be low scoring as pitching will win this one but neither team has the greatest bullpen so keeping your start warm and energized will be key. Lester used his strikeout pitch very well in the opener as he hopes to again Sunday. This series is a big one for both teams coming into the weekend. The Sox are off to a great start as they redeem themselves from last season but for the Jays starting 1-2 they are going to need to prove quick that they really are the kings of the AL East.
Felix Doubront (11-10, 4.86 ERA in 2012) v. Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81 ERA in 2012) 5-3 Blue Jays
John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 ERA in 2011) v. J.A. Happ (10-11, 4.79 ERA in 2012) 7-5 Red Sox
Jon Lester (1-0, 3.60 in 2013) v. R.A. Dickey (0-1, 4.50 in 2013)
4-2 Red Sox