The biggest game for the Blue Jays in recent history (until the next one) goes tonight at 8:07 from Kauffman Stadium. As noted yesterday, the memory of David Price as a Jay largely hinges on what he does in this massive game. Opposing him will be Yordano Ventura, making it the same pitching matchup as the Royals Game 2 victory. Do you remember what happened in Game 2? I sure do. On a Saturday afternoon, the Blue Jays entered the seventh inning up 3-0 and left Kansas City later that day down two games to zero. The blame was thrown all over the place, mainly at Ryan Goins and David Price, but the entire team will get a chance to right their wrongs this evening in an even bigger game.
In the Game 2 preview, we looked at how Yordano Ventura mainly throws his heater and curveball against right-handed hitters running the off-speed pitch away to get empty swings. He certainly tried to follow this game plan last Saturday, but it was his fastball that was taken advantage by the Blue Jays. Despite getting six strikeouts off his nasty pitch mix of low fastballs and hard curveballs, a few mistakes with his heater up in the zone was all it took for Toronto to score three runs off of the right-hander knocking him from the game after 5.1 innings.
To refresh your memory, watch how Ventura had success against the Blue Jays last Saturday:
Also, in graphical form you can see how he followed the ever-popular plan against the Jays of away, away, away:
He made a few mistakes with both his curveball and fastball, but mainly he lived on the outer half of the plate which helped him keep the ball in the ballpark.
One of the keys for today's game will be how good Ventura's command is with his curveball. If he isn't able to get Blue Jays hitters to chase, they can wait for the fastball which has more than enough velocity to easily get turned on if you can catch up to it.
Another key will be what strike zone the teams are working with this evening, an under-appreciated aspect that could make all the difference. Jeff Nelson is the man calling the balls and strikes for Game 6 and he happened to be featured in an InstaGraphs article just a few weeks ago. A look at his strike zone showed that he has a relatively huge inside half for left-handed hitters, while right-handed hitters are faced with a slightly higher zone than usual. Takeaways from this? The Royals are stacked with left-handed hitters who will be facing a larger than average zone against David Price tonight. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays righties will not be handicapped by a wider strike zone away like they have been at times this postseason:
Who knows if that will have an impact, but it's a cool thing to keep an eye on. For David Price, a repeat of his Game 2 performance from innings 1-6 would be a splendid outcome for tonight's game. The lefty allowed a single hit over the first six frames and was absolutely mowing down the Royals. If there was a problem with him tipping pitches from the stretch in the seventh inning then hopefully that has been resolved for tonight's ball game.
- 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