Blue Jays vs. Brewers Series Preview: Spotlight on struggling Kikuchi, Manoah

Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker break down Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s recent struggles, what he and Bo Bichette were talking about in the dugout during Sunday's win and how his swing decisions are affecting his results.

The Toronto Blue Jays return to action with a series against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers after ending a 17-games-in-17-days stretch with an off-day on Monday. 

Toronto went 7-10 during the busy period, capping it with a much-needed 2-1 series win in Minnesota against the Twins after a 2-9 run against American League East rivals. 

The Blue Jays (28-26) are last in the American League East — and are not doubt looking forward to flipping the calendar to June, considering they are 10-16 in May. 

This will mark the Blue Jays’ third series in a row against a division leader. 

Here’s a look at how the Blue Jays and Brewers match up. 

Probable pitchers 

Tuesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto LHP Yusei Kikuchi (5-2, 4.56 ERA) vs. Milwaukee RHP Adrian Houser (1-0, 2.25 ERA), Sportsnet 

Wednesday, 7:07 p.m. ET / 4:07 p.m. PT: Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (1-5, 5.53 ERA) vs. Milwaukee RHP Julio Teheran (0-1, 1.80 ERA), SN ONE 

Thursday, 1:07 p.m. ET / 10:07 a.m. PT: Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.03 ERA) vs. Milwaukee RHP Freddy Peralta (5-4, 4.64 ERA), Sportsnet

All games on SN NOW.

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Latest on the Blue Jays 

Despite not firing on all cylinders, the Blue Jays managed to take two of three against the AL Central-leading Twins. 

There was more shaky baserunning and their offence wasn’t humming, but the Blue Jays got solid starts from Gausman (Friday) and José Berríos (Sunday) in 3-1 and 3-0 wins, respectively. 

The bullpen also was strong. Trevor Richards and Erik Swanson each struck out three on Sunday before Jordan Romano closed things out with three more whiffs. 

All told, the Blue Jays struck out 14 Twins in the series finale. 

The Blue Jays are hopeful to get outfielder Kevin Kiermaier back for Tuesday’s series opener after he left Saturday’s game with lower back discomfort. 

Latest on the Brewers 

The NL Central-leading Brewers (28-25) avoided a sweep with a 7-5 win over the visiting San Francisco Giants on Sunday. 

The Brewers are fortunate to play in the weak NL Central, as they have lost eight of their last 11 series. 

As with Toronto, May has not been kind to the Brewers, who are 10-15 in the month. 

Milwaukee ranks 25th in team OPS. 

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Injury woes for Brewers 

Milwaukee has nine opening-day players on the injury list, including starting pitchers Brandon Woodruff and Wade Miley, infielder Luis Urias and outfielder Garrett Mitchell.  

Shortstop Willy Adames also has been out with a concussion after he was struck in the head by a foul ball on Friday. He’ll be out until at least the weekend. 

Can Kikuchi, Manoah find form? 

The Blue Jays have their best starter (Gausman) on the mound for the series finale, but have two huge question marks for the opening two games in Kikuchi and Manoah. 

After a solid April, Kikuchi has been bad in May (1-2, 6.29 ERA in five starts). The Brewers have the edge on Tuesday, with Houser coming off two starts in which he has not given up a run. 

Manoah, a 2022 All-Star, has been one of the least effective starters in the AL. He’s coming off a particularly rough start: three innings, four earned runs, five walks, six strikeouts versus Tampa. 

Manoah goes against a bit of a mystery man in two-time All-Star Teheran, who makes his second start for the Brewers after being out of the majors for the past two years. 

The Blue Jays have the edge on Thursday, with Gausman going against a struggling former All-Star in Peralta. 

Rowdy returns 

Brewers first baseman and former Blue Jay Rowdy Tellez leads the Brewers with 12 home runs and is hitting .253/.343/.513. 

The Blue Jays traded Tellez to the Brewers in July 2021 for Richards, one of the better relievers for Toronto recently, and triple-A pitcher Bowden Francis. 

Toronto picked Tellez in the 30th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

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Speaking of first basemen … 

It hasn’t been a great May for Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 

The Toronto slugger has just one home run since May 4 — and that came against Tampa outfielder Luke Raley in a 20-1 blowout victory. 

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Guerrero was 1-for-13 with four strikeouts and no walks in the series against the Twins. 

2022 season series 

The Brewers won two of three against the visiting Blue Jays in late June.  

Tellez hit two home runs against the Blue Jays in the series finale. 

Up next 

The Blue Jays head to New York for a three-game weekend series against the middling Mets (27-27). 

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