(Aaron Sanchez photo courtesy Gerry Angus/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Friday, July 5, Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ont., 7:07 p.m. EDT.
It is a matchup of the highly moveable object and the largely resistible force Friday night as the lone double-digit losers in the major leagues — Dylan Bundy and Aaron Sanchez — take the mound for the opener of a three-game series between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.
Bundy out to snap four-start losing streak for O’s
Since the start of last season, Bundy’s 26 losses are the most in the majors by a wide margin — Tanner Roark is closest at 21. The right-hander has posted a 5.75 ERA during a four-start losing streak, pitching six innings just once in that span, and the Orioles offense has offered little help in plating five runs of support.
Bundy (3-10, 4.91 ERA) was shuffled in the rotation by manager Brandon Hyde so he could be the first pitcher out of the All-Star break and will enter this start with eight days of rest. He last pitched June 26, giving up a pair of home runs and five runs overall in four-plus innings of a 10-5 loss to the San Diego Padres.
“Just wasn’t commanding the ball very well today with all my pitches, really,” Bundy told The Baltimore Sun after failing to last five innings for the first time in 13 starts. “Worked pretty hard for the first three innings and just wasn’t able to get any momentum going.”
The two homers were the 18th and 19th Bundy has served up, continuing what has been a challenging trend to correct after he allowed a major league-leading 41 in 2018. The extra rest has also not proven beneficial for the righty — he is 1-2 with a 6.27 ERA in four starts with six or more days off, yielding five homers in just 18 2-3 innings in those games.
Bundy also struggled against the Blue Jays last year, going 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in four starts as they socked seven homers off him in 22 2-3 innings. His two worst outings came at the Rogers Centre, where six of those homers were belted over nine innings as he yielded 12 runs and 15 hits in nine innings.
He is 2-3 with a 3.89 ERA in seven career starts against the Blue Jays, including 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA in four starts north of the border. Bundy is also 2-4 with a 4.79 ERA in seven road starts this season.
Worries grow regarding Sanchez for long-term during lengthy struggles
Sanchez (3-11, 6.31), who leads the majors in losses, is nearing the club record for consecutive losses, set by Ricky Romero in 2012 for a single season with 13 and originally established by Tom Underwood bridging the 1978-79 seasons.
The righty has the highest ERA of any major league starter along with the worst WHIP (1.77) and walks per nine innings (5.38) among qualifying starters.
Sanchez has lost eight consecutive starts and 10 straight decisions dating back to his last win April 27. Sanchez has given up six or more runs in four successive outings — a career worst — after being knocked around for six runs and seven hits in three-plus innings of a 7-6 defeat to Kansas City on Sunday.
That loss was particularly frustrating considering Toronto staked Sanchez to a 5-1 lead in the second before he promptly gave it back in the third when the Royals put up a five-spot.
“You look back to his best year,” pitching coach Pete Walker told The Athletic, “and there’s some things he was doing that he’s gotten away from a little bit – the energy level in the delivery, the tempo in the delivery, the finish. Obviously, he’s had some finger issues that have led to some delivery flaws.
“But we know what we need to work on. It’s a matter of getting there, and Aaron knows it. I think that’s his biggest frustration – that he wants to get back to being the guy he was.”
Sanchez has lost three straight home starts and five decisions in a row at Rogers Centre, where he is 2-5 with a 5.83 ERA in eight starts. He pitched fairly well against the Orioles last year, going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts despite walking 12 in 18 1-3 innings.
Chris Davis has proven problematic for Sanchez, belting four home runs and two doubles while going 8 for 24 in their matchups.
The Blue Jays are:
- 5-2 in Sanchez’s last seven starts vs. the Orioles.
- 5-1 in their last six games vs. sub-.400 teams.
- 5-2 in their last seven home games.
The Orioles are:
- 0-12 in Bundy’s last 12 starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 5-23 in Bundy’s last 28 starts vs. AL East teams.
- 1-8 in Bundy’s last nine starts during game 1 of a series.
OVER 10.5 Runs (-105)
Sometimes, the path of least resistance is the right one. And in the case of Bundy and Sanchez, nearly everything points to the over hitting. The over is: 14-4-3 in Baltimore’s last 21 games, 10-1-2 in the last 13 versus division rivals, and 4-0 in Bundy’s last four starts against the Blue Jays.
It also is riding strongly with Sanchez, delivering in his last five starts while going 8-1 in the last nine series openers he has taken the ball and 5-0 in his last five matchups facing AL East teams. Even with the line ticking up to add the hook, the over is still the play.
Blue Jays OVER 5.5 runs (-105)
The belief is that taking the over for either team is going to work in this instance, but in taking the Blue Jays to win, the pick is to take the Blue Jays to clear their number. Despite its inability to win consistently, Toronto has been putting up a runs at an impressive rate — the Jays have scored six or more runs in eight straight games and 13 of their last 15.
OVER 6 runs first 5 innings (-115)
The five-inning over is riding a six-game run with the Blue Jays and has delivered in three of Sanchez’s last four starts. It has also trended strongly with Baltimore of late, hitting in six of the last nine games and gone 3-3-1 in Bundy’s last seven road starts.
Blue Jays (-136)
Amid the staggering negative individual statistics unearthed with Bundy and Sanchez, one team stat also jumped off the page. The Orioles are trying to win back-to-back road games for the first time since a four-game run from March 30-April 2 that concluded with back-to-back wins in Toronto.
While there is no denying Sanchez’s epic run of misery, the feeling is he will finally at least not lose this outing given Baltimore’s inability to win series openers. The Orioles are 2-11 on the road in series openers this season and have dropped 11 of the last 12 such contests.
Toronto is also hitting the ball well on this homestand, having entered Thursday’s contest averaging 7.0 runs over the past six games. Look for that to continue as the Blue Jays grab this series opener.
Orioles (-105) first 5 innings
This is a toss-up, and there was some thought about taking the half-run and the Orioles at -145, but the Blue Jays have not led after five innings in any of Sanchez’s last eight starts during his losing streak and have trailed at the midway point in 11 of his last 12 starts.
Baltimore is at least 4-4-2 in the first five innings of Bundy’s last 10 outings and also has split its last six decisions in the first five frames.
Orioles OVER 2.5 runs first 5 innings (-105)
The challenge is trying to figure out which starter is going to melt down first in this contest. Both Bundy and Sanchez have been serviceable in the first three innings, but the second time through the lineup is when things start getting dicey for the two hurlers.
For Sanchez, the opponents’ batting average spikes from .242 the first time through the lineup to .353 the second time. Given his current form, the Orioles are the smarter play to clear their number than the Blue Jays at three runs.