On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2016 season.
The Opponent: The Blue Jays, who became the most hated team in baseball around these parts last October, after off to a slow start. But in perspective, they're basically identical to where they were at this point last year as they currently sit at .500 just more than a month into the season.
Past 2016 Meetings: The teams played a four-game series in Toronto just last week as the Blue Jays took three of four games, including two walkoff wins.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — R.A. Dickey (1-4, 5.18 ERA) vs. Martin Perez (1-2, 3.51); Saturday — Marco Estrada (1-2, 2.39) vs. Colby Lewis (2-0, 3.20); Sunday — Aaron Sanchez (3-1, 2.58) vs. Cesar Ramos (0-2, 5.11).
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What's Hot: Michael Saunders is hitting .381 with a triple and a homer in the last six games. Justin Smoak is batting .375 in his last seven games with two RBIs. The three pitchers the Rangers will see all went seven innings their last time out. Dickey gave up two earned runs, while Estrada and Sanchez each gave up one.
The Rangers' makeshift catching tandem of Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday is red-hot at the plate, combining to go 11-for-26 in the last seven games with two homers and nine RBIs. Ian Desmond has been on a tear lately, hitting .379 with five doubles, a triple and a homer to go with his seven RBIs in the last seven games. Colby Lewis has been his usual bulldog self lately, and in his last outing when the Rangers needed it desperately he went deep into the game, going seven innings and striking out five with just one walk.
What's Not: Jose Bautista, who hit the shot heard/seen around the world last October, was awful last week against the Rangers and he's still in a slump, hitting just .154 over his last seven games. Troy Tulowitzki is hitting just .227 over the same time span.
Prince Fielder had a couple of big doubles on Wednesday to break out of an awful slump, but he's still hitting .185 over his last seven games. Delino DeShields is hitting just .111 over the next six games.
Familiar Faces: Dickey, the veteran knuckleballer, began his career as a highly touted power arm in the Rangers' organization before his career fell apart and he took a few years down in the minors to develop the antiquated pitch. All he's done since was win an NL Cy Young Award with the Mets and beat the Rangers in an elimination game in the ALDS last year. Former Rangers prospect Justin Smoak gave the Rangers Cliff Lee, but he also beat them in one of those games last week with two homers.