Blue Jays Series Preview: Dodgers a powerful opponent

Arden Zwelling is joined by Brandon Belt to discuss the series against the Seattle Mariners, Jordan Romano's performance and having a west coast game feeling like a home game in Toronto.

The Toronto Blue Jays conclude a stay on the West Coast with a three-game series against the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

It is not a Dodgers team at full strength, however.

Ace Clayton Kershaw (left shoulder soreness), a 10-time all-star and three-time Cy Young Award winner, is expected to be out until early August.

DH J.D. Martinez, a six-time all-star, also is expected to miss the opener of the series versus the Blue Jays because of left hamstring tightness.

Here’s a look at the Blue Jays-Dodgers series.

Probable Pitchers

Monday, 10:10 p.m. ET / 7:10 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (8-7, 3.39 ERA) vs. Los Angeles RHP Michael Grove (2-2, 6.40 ERA)

Tuesday, 10:10 p.m. ET / 7:10 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Chris Bassitt (10-5, 3.92 ERA) vs. Los Angeles LHP Julio Urias (7-6, 5.02 ERA)

Wednesday, 4:10 p.m. ET / 1:10 p.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (7-3, 3.92 ERA) vs. Los Angeles RHP Tony Gonsolin (5-3, 3.94 ERA)

All games on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW.

Latest on the Blue Jays

For the second series in a row, the Blue Jays (55-45) avoided being swept with a win in a series finale — prevailing 4-3 in Seattle against the Mariners on Sunday.

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Alek Manoah showed some improvement, giving up three runs on three hits in 5.1 innings in a no-decision.

Pinch-hitter Santiago Espinal delivered the go-ahead single in the seventh and Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson, Trevor Richards, and Jordan Romano got the Jays to the finish line.

Offensively, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Brandon Belt each homered for the second game in a row.

Catcher Danny Jansen exited the game with a left forearm contusion after he was hit by a pitch, so expect an update on his status Monday.

Toronto is third in the American League East, 6.5 games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles. The Blue Jays are holding down the third and final wild-card spot, two games up on the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Latest on the Dodgers

The Dodgers (57-41) missed a chance to sweep the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, losing 8-4 in the finale on Sunday in Arlington.

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Max Muncy staked the Dodgers to a 4-0 lead with a first-inning grand slam, but it went downhill from there for the visitors.

Still, the Dodgers went 6-3 on a road trip against good competition in the New York Mets, Orioles, and Rangers. They put up 27 runs in the first two games against Texas.

The Dodgers have a four-game lead on the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres in the NL West as they chase an 11th consecutive playoff berth.

Homer Happy

The Dodgers are second in the majors in home runs with 161.

Mookie Betts leads the way with 27, Martinez and Muncy have 24 each, and Canadian national team member Freddie Freeman has 20.

Freeman also is fourth in the majors in hits, one behind Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette.

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It will mark the second series in a row Guerrero Jr. battles somebody he beat en route to this year’s Home Run Derby title as the Blue Jays first baseman topped Betts 26-11 in the first round in Seattle.

Rotation Concerns

While the Dodgers can hit as well as anyone, their starting pitching is in question as the trade deadline approaches Aug. 1.

With Kershaw out and Walker Buehler and Dustin May sidelined for the season, the Dodgers have three rookies in Emmet Sheehan, Bobby Miller and Grove joining Urias and Gonsolin in the rotation.

Their team ERA for their starters ranks a pedestrian 18th (4.57).

Starting Strong

The Blue Jays could use some length from their starters this series.

The bullpen entered two games in the Seattle series in the sixth inning and the other in the seventh.

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Ryu Watch

Left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, coming off Tommy John surgery last year, is scheduled to meet the Blue Jays in Los Angeles on Monday after two promising rehab starts for triple-A Buffalo.

The former Dodger is expected to throw in the bullpen in front of Blue Jays staff and coaches before the club determines the next step.

With a 17-games-in-17-days stretch looming after this series, there is some thought the Blue Jays will go with a six-man rotation.

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Head to Head

It’s the first Blue Jays-Dodgers series since August 2019 when Toronto lost all three games at Dodger Stadium.

L.A. has won eight of the past nine meetings between the teams.

Up Next

The Blue Jays get an off-day Thursday before a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels at Rogers Centre

Angels star Shohei Ohtani is expected to start Friday’s series opener on the mound.

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