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Game #18 Preview: Sanchez vs Sabathia

Blue Jays (12-5) vs Yankees (8-8)

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After finalizing the sweep against the Royals yesterday, the Blue Jays head to New York to open up a 4 game series in the Bronx. Tonight’s first pitch is at 6:35 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

After firing 8 innings of 1 run ball against the Orioles (including carrying a no-hitter into that 8th inning), Sanchez will look to carry his strong start to the season into New York. That start against the O’s was April 10, so he’s had a pretty good rest between starts.

The first time Sanchez faced the Yankees this year, he allowed 4 runs over his 5.2 innings, allowing 8 hits and 4 walks while only striking out 2. The 4 walks are a concern, and they were in his last start as well when he walked 5 in his 8 innings. I’ll chalk it up to early season inconsistencies and say that it’ll be better going forward. Because a 13:11 K:BB ratio over 19.2 innings isn’t going to lead to much continued success.

Yankees’ Starter

The Yankees are expected to activate CC Sabathia from the DL for the opening game of the series. Sabathia last pitched April 6 against the O’s, where he left after 4 innings due to hip discomfort.

Sabathia faced the Jays in his first start of the season on March 31, holding them down for 2 runs (1 earned) over 5 innings, striking out 4 and walking 2. He looked good in that start, keeping the Jays off balance and leaving with the score tied 2-2. This was the game where Solarte touched up Dellin Betances with a go ahead home run in the 8th, before Kevin Pillar did something that will haunt Betances for the rest of his life.

(any chance to embed this video is wildly taken advantage of here)

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Facing the 3rd lefty in the last 4 games means that Curtis Granderson is going to be on the bench yet again.

Hopefully Travis is back in the lineup and yesterday was indeed just a scheduled day off.

Russell Martin might be in line for an off day, if not today then tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gibby get him to catch Sanchez today but give Estrada Maile tomorrow.

Yankees’ Lineup

They’re 4th in the Majors with a 117 wRC+ (just ahead of the Jays) and this is despite getting nothing from major offseason addition Giancarlo Stanton since opening day. Stanton is hitting just .197/.293/.409 (95 wRC+) on the season with 3 home runs. He has over twice as many strikeouts (29) as hits (13), but don’t let that fool you into a false sense of security. He can still mash the baseball.

Making up for Stanton’s misfortunes is Sir Didi Gregorius. Sir Didi leads the Majors with a 1.5 fWAR in the early going, putting up a ridiculous .333/.464/.804 (226 wRC+) with 5 home runs.

Also getting in on the Bronx bombings is Aaron Judge. Last year’s Rookie of the Year and MVP runner up, Judge is off to another great start. He’s hitting .339/.480/.593 (197 wRC+) with 4 home runs of his own. Thankfully for opponents, Stanton has been providing a bit of a reprieve in between Judge and Gregorius, but that isn’t going to last.

A good portion of the Yankees’ lineup has struggled with injuries thus far. Aaron Hicks went on the DL in Toronto, but is back now. Brandon Drury is currently there with blurred vision and migraines, Greg Bird and Jacoby Ellsbury have been on the DL the whole season, Billy McKinney came up, played a game and got injured, and I’m sure there are others I’m missing as well. But the Yankees are making due working through injuries to their periphery players.

Yesterday’s Heroes

While Teoscar Hernandez had a good game yesterday, the NationalsRyan Zimmerman was a little bit better. Zim went 3-4 with a pair of home runs, which moved him past Todd Zeile for the most career home runs for a player whose name starts with a Z. The Nationals also lost 11-5 to the Mets, but that comes second to Zim’s takeover of Zeile.

WPA King goes to Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics. He was 4-6 with a pair of walks and a walkoff single in the A’s 14 inning 12-11 victory over the White Sox.

Pitcher of the Day title once again goes to Jose Berrios. He went 7 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and no walks in the Twins eventual 2-1 win in 16 innings in Puerto Rico. He’s had 3 starts this season of 7+ innings with no runs.

Milestone Watch

Assuming Justin Smoak is in the lineup today (which should be a given), today will be his 1000th career game. So congratulations Justin!

John Axford didn’t get into the game yesterday, so he’s still sitting on 500 career relief appearances, 2 back of John Hiller on the Canadian relief appearance list.

Find the Link

Find the link between Sabathia and the man who preceded Kevin Seitzer (drink!) in Toronto.