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Game #23 Preview: Rodriguez vs Sanchez

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Red Sox (17-5) vs Blue Jays (14-8)

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In easily the biggest and most important sporting event between Boston and Toronto tonight, the Blue Jays go for the early season series win in game 2. First pitch is at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Pitcher

Aaron Sanchez is making his 5th start of the season. His last went alright, going 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits and a pair of walks. The 2 walks was nice to see, as he has been fighting control problems a bit through the season. He also only struck out 2 in that game, and when the defense was struggling as much as it was that night, he probably would have been better served getting a few more.

On the season Sanchez is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA. In his 25.2 innings, he has issued 13 walks and only struck out 15. He has done alright limiting hard contact, as his 88.3 mph exit velocity is the lowest in the rotation and just a tick below league average. But this has at least led to only 1 home run thus far.

Somewhere within Sanchez is the ability to generate more strikeouts. He struck out 20.4% of the batters he faced in 2016, but is sitting at 13.8% right now. His changeup is better, and he’s using it a lot more to good effect, so they’ll come. His changeup has gotten him 25 whiffs in 133 throws thus far, and his overall swinging strike rate of 9% is a career high.

Aaron is going to be just fine.

Red Sox’ Starter

Left hander Eduardo Rodriguez is making his 4th start of the season for the Red Sox. He’s 2-0 (when your team starts 17-2, there’s a pretty decent chance you have a good record) with a 3.45 ERA.

This is his 4th Major League season, and in total he has put up a 4.20 ERA/4.07 FIP/4.31 xFIP over 381 innings, very good numbers for a back-end starter.

Rodriguez started twice and had a relief appearance against the Jays last year. In total he threw 12.1 innings, striking out 18 while walking 5, ultimately giving up 5 runs on 12 hits and a pair of homers - one to Pearce and one to Morales.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

After playing hero last night both in the field and especially at bat, Curtis Granderson is going to be on the bench the next 2 games due to a lefty being on the mound. The Twitterverse will erupt calling for John Gibbons’ resignation, and a whole bunch of other things that the keyboard warriors will be spewing. But Granderson not starting is the right call.

Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales are probably both going to be in this one. I’m guessing it’s at the expense of Randal Grichuk.

I’d be giving Yangervis Solarte the day off too, and see what Gurriel looks like at 3B.

Russell Martin will be catching this one.

Red Sox Lineup

They been held down pretty well the last 3 games. After scoring 81 runs the 10 games prior, they have limped to a total of 4 runs the last 3 games.

The Red Sox don’t have an active platoon, but Mitch Moreland does play 1B most games against righties. So look for him to be out there, with Hanley Ramirez probably moving to DH while JD Martinez heads out to left field and one of Benintendi or Bradley Jr gets the game off.

Sandy Leon got the start last night, so it’ll probably be Christian Vazquez today.

Tzu-Wei Lin should be back at SS today, which means either Eduardo Nunez or Brock Holt is playing second base while the other sits.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Curtis Granderson is the big hitter, WPA King and Pitcher of the Day.

Alright, he’s none of those, but he does deserve them all.

Defensive legend Andrelton Simmons was the offensive superstar last night, going 3-4 with a pair of home runs and 5 RBI, leading his Angels over the Astros 8-7 in a poorly pitched game.

WPA King title goes to Jay Bruce of the Mets. He hit a big single moving the tying run to 3rd with none out in the 8th, before breaking that tie in the top of 10th with a 2-out home run. His .704 WPA beats out Granderson’s .546 mark.

The Pitcher of the Day was our very own J.A. Happ! Happ threw 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 4 hits, walking none while striking out 10. So yay! A Blue Jay won one of these! (Three time champ Jose Berrios got his butt kicked by the Yankees last night, because the Twins stole a magic egg from the Yankees in the 7th century, and have been paying for it ever since).

Milestone Watch

Kevin Pillar, at 59 steals as a Blue Jay, is now 2 short of Jose Reyes and Raul Mondesi for 19th overall.

Find the Link

Find the link between Rodriguez and our happy dancer.