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Game #3 Preview

Yankees (2-0) vs Blue Jays (0-2)

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays take another crack at the Yankees today, after Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankee bullpen held the Jays offense down yet again.

Today is Justin Smoak Bobblehead Day (hopefully not portending an injury). There is also a “Smoak’d Meat” stand near section 120 that is selling delicious smoked meat sandwiches, the proceeds of which are going to the Jays’ Care Foundation. So maybe stand in line for a good cause and some good food, if you’re there anyway.

Today’s game gets underway at 4:07 ET, as home Saturday start times have officially all changed this year.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marco Estrada makes his 2018 debut today. There isn’t a whole lot to say about Estrada. His 2017 was essentially a cross-section of a Cadbury Cream Egg - great first part, absolutely terrible and disgusting middle, and then a good end. On the whole, he put up a 4.98 ERA, while watching his typically great BABIP jump to its highest point since his first full year starting, while also walking hitters at a full-season career high.

If Estrada is going to find a comfy guarantee (or extension) before he hits Free Agency this fall, he is going to have to have a strong year, and starting 2018 off like he did 2017 would be a great start. Hopefully he can find that form and keep it.

Yankees’ Starter

Left hander CC Sabathia, now entering his 18th Major League season - and 10th with the Yankees, has seen age only change him from a front end starter to a mid-rotation starter. At 37 years old, he signed a one year, $10m contract to come back and pitch in front of this formidable lineup. He put up a 3.69 ERA/4.49 FIP/4.11 xFIP last season, and if he’s closer to that xFIP than that FIP in 2018, it’ll be money well spent for the Yankees. If it’s closer to that FIP, he might be the odd man out if they search for upgrades at the deadline.

Blue Jays’ Lineup has a headline that says “Blue Jays to Use New Lineup vs Sabathia” but it doesn’t actually go anyway useful. Considering the Jays only have one active platoon, I do wonder what the other changes will be. I’m guessing that we’ll see Maile behind the plate today, but moreso because Martin caught the first two games and probably needs a break. Perhaps we’ll see Ngoepe in there somewhere too. And of course, Pearce will start in LF, so hopefully Marco can keep the Yankee’s righties from pulling too many balls into the outfield.

Yankees’ Lineup

Likely the same as yesterday against Aaron Sanchez. Didi Gregorius in 4-spot ahead of Gary Sanchez surprised me a little, but I believe he did it last year too, and he had a good day. I would love for Marco to be able to get through the big guys as easily as Aaron did yesterday, but I won’t hold my breath.

Things to Watch Out For

Once again, the bullpen and big hitters. It was nice to see a couple doubles off Chapman last night, and he also probably won’t be available today if needed. But it’s still an incredible group without him.

Yesterday’s Heroes

There wasn’t a full slate of games yesterday, but with Cubs and Marlins playing pretty much two games of baseball and the Pirates and Tigers going to 13 in a heavy fought game, there was a lot of entertainment still on tap. Gregory Polanco comes out at the top of today’s star, going 3-5 with a homer and stolen base. His game also earned him 0.80 WPA, as his 3-run home run in the top of the 13th sealed off the win for the Pirates.

On the pitching side, Max Scherzer struck out 10 over 6 shutout innings, helping his Nationals beat the Reds 2-0.

Milestone Watch

Yangervis Solarte hit a double yesterday, so I had to search for a new pending milestone. The best I have for you is Devon Travis is 3 doubles away from Manuel Lee for 6th place on the Blue Jays second baseman doubles leaderboard. So ya, watch out for that incredibly important milestone.

Find the Link

Find the link between today’s Yankee starting pitcher and the man who went to the Red Sox along with Brayan Villarreal in the trade that got the Tigers their current shortstop.