After last night's complete domination by Edinson Volquez, the Blue Jays will try to avoid a repeat of the ALDS by actually winning one of the first two games in the series. The pitching matchup today is a cracker as 'reliever' David Price takes on 'hothead' Yordano Ventura. First pitch is 4:07pm and as yesterday, we'll be stuck with the sounds of Joe Buck and Harold Reynolds along with the actually informative Tom Verducci.
Like Volquez before him, Ventura was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent. The righty broke onto the scene in 2014 and was lights out all the way to the World Series, earning himself an extension prior to this season. Ventura started the year pretty horribly and wasn't resembling much of what he displayed the season prior. As the year wound down though, the right-hander came into form and ended the campaign with an ERA of 4.08. At first glance this performance looks worse than his rookie year, but his FIP is actually lower (3.57 compared to 3.60) thanks to an increased K-rate, and a decreased BB-rate. In that respect, the 2015 season has been his best with the Royals although it certainly hasn't appeared that way for a large portion of it.
Of course the hoopla around Ventura is well-known, as the flamethrower has faced a variety of issues with his short temper and willingness to hit people with his pitches. An intentional HBP of Brett Lawrie earlier in the year got the righty ejected, then a few days later a bench clearing incident with the White Sox got him suspended. Somehow when he faced the Blue Jays on August 1 this year nothing crazy happened, despite the teams tussling just one day later. In the start Ventura went seven innings that, aside from the fourth and fifth, were perfect. In those two innings a couple of singles and some huge home runs off his heater scored five runs for the Blue Jays, making Yordano's start look a little worse than it actually was.
On the back of his solid form down the stretch run, Ventura was given the Game 1 start against the Astros. As you'll recall. a rain delay shortened his start after just 2.0 innings and three runs allowed. He got another shot four days later in Game 4, where he struck out eight and allowed another three runs over 5.0 innings. That contest was the one where the Royals saved their season late in the game, so it's a good thing Ventura kept them within striking distance in the early innings.
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As you can see, the righty is mainly a fastball and curveball pitcher, with the changeup thrown in against lefties. In the matchup today, it's likely his game plan will be what every other right-handed pitcher with a good breaking ball does against the Jays. Keep the fastball down and run the curveball off the plate to get the power hitters to chase the un-hittable pitches. It's definitely been a recipe for success on many an occasion this year against the Toronto lineup. It just so happens that Ventura is already well-practiced in this strategy:
It will be interesting to see the cat and mouse game this afternoon as Ventura tries to nibble with his curveball and the Blue Jays try to lay off the tough outside pitches. Volquez had success with a similar plan of attack last night, featuring a very similar repertoire.
It's hard to know whether Justin Smoak has lost the first base job or not, but I think we'll see Colabello out there today. It's impossible to predict whether Edwin Encarnacion will be good to go today either, but if not then both Smoak and Cola will play.
- Ben Revere LF
- Josh Donaldson 3B
- Jose Bautista RF
- Edwin Encarnacion DH
- Chris Colabello 1B
- Troy Tulowitzki SS
- Russell Martin C
- Kevin Pillar CF
- Ryan Goins 2B
Find the Link
Find the link between Yordano Ventura and the Cubs reliever who shares his initials with the US president who presided over the majority of WWII.
A 2-0 series deficit wasn't the end of the world in the ALDS so this isn't a do or die game, but the Blue Jays would certainly like to head back to Toronto with a win in their bag. Enjoy!