After yet another 1-run game and loss against the Boston Red Sox, the Texas Rangers come into town for a 3 game weekend set, kicking off tonight at 7:07.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Marcus Stroman heads to the mound trying to get his season on track. Through his first 4 starts, he has thrown just 20 innings, allowing 21 runs (19 earned) on 23 hits and 2 home runs. He has struck out 21, but also walked 14. When he’s not walking a batter, he’s allowing extremely hard contact - 94.2 mph average exit velocity, which ties him with Mike Leake for hardest against a starting pitcher in all of baseball.
Stroman has struggled especially hard facing a hitter just the second time through the order this year. First time through, he’s doing better than in the past, as batters have a .240 wOBA (vs .278 career). Second time through that number jumps to .446 (far worse than his career .307). And then third time through it’s a still bad .406 (compared to .328 career, which is close to league average since 2014). He has yet to survive into a 4th time through.
Over the offseason, he had a lot of comments on Twitter about how he was working on messing up the timing of hitters even more, getting ready to be even more unpredictable than he was in 2017. I don’t think it’s working. Sure, he has pitched in the cold a few times, and started his season a bit late because of a shoulder issue, but if he doesn’t start producing good results soon, he might need to take a break and get things right (whether that’s a DL stint or a Minor League stint - he does still have options - I’m not sure).
Mike Minor gets the ball in the first game of the series. After having a very successful season last year as a reliever for the Royals, the Rangers signed him to a 3 year, $28m contract this past offseason, looking to stick him back in the rotation for the first time since 2014.
The early returns for the Rangers’ investment have been pretty good. Through 4 starts, he has thrown 21 innings with a 3.86 ERA. He’s getting strikeouts (20) while limiting walks (6) and home runs (2).
He started against the Blue Jays earlier this season too. In that April 7 start, he went 6 strong innings, allowing 1 run on a pair of hits and walks while striking out 7, as the Rangers took their only game of that 3 game set by beating Stroman and the Jays by a score of 5-1.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Steve Pearce hit a home run in that game against Minor, and he’ll likely be out in the outfield in this one too.
Devon Travis hit a home run and triple in last night’s game and is finally coming around. He’ll hit a double tonight.
Yangervis Solarte took a Chris Sale slider on the right knee last night, and it’s probably not feeling that great. He might get a day off today, which means Gurriel is in. I’m not sure if he would get the start at 3B, or if they would slide Diaz over to 3B and let Gurriel start at SS.
Russel Martin will be back behind the plate for this one.
Since Minor is a lefty, Granderson will be on the bench to start this one again. This is the Jays 11th game against a lefty, tying them with the Athletics for most games against a lefty this season. I’m sure Granderson is getting tired of being on the bench, and probably dreaming about playing for the 2015 Jays when lefties were too scared to pitch against us.
The final spot in the lineup will come down to Morales or Grichuk. I’m guessing it’s Morales in this one.
Adrian Beltre (hamstring), Elvis Andrus (elbow) and Rougned Odor (
brain hamstring) are all on the DL, so their infield is very different looking than it was a few weeks ago.
Joey Gallo has shifted over to 3B. Jurickson Profar has taken over at SS, and sophomore Drew Robinson is the regular second baseman (I’m sure top prospect Willie Calhoun will be coming up soon though).
Ronald Guzman is their left handed first baseman, so he’ll get the start in this one against Stroman.
Collectively this team wasn’t hitting well before losing Andrus (155 wRC+) and Beltre (112). Now, it’ll take bad pitching to allow multiple runs. Hopefully Stroman isn’t up to that task.
Last Night’s Heroes
The big bat from yesterday was Matt Davidson of the White Sox. Davidson went 2-3 with a pair of home runs and then a bean ball to pay for it.
The WPA King title goes to Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He hit a walkoff 3-run home run in the Yankees 4-3 win over the Twins (who thankfully only play the Yankees 7 times this year).
The Pitcher of the Day was Ivan Nova of the Pirates. He threw 8 shutout innings in the Pirates 1-0 win over the Tigers. Since Corey Dickerson hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 9th and the Win stat is stupid, Nova didn’t get the W for the day. But he was so close to winning the WPA King title, which is more important than the Win anyway.
Kevin Pillar is going to steal a couple more bases at some point. Until then, he sits 2 short of Jose Reyes and Raul Mondesi (there’s a guy you can write about for the FanPost Friday topic) for 19th all time as a Blue Jay.
Marcus Stroman will be pitching in his 100th career game today. So yay him!
Find the Link
Find the link between Minor and the man with the same name as the 7th letter of the alphabet.