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Game #28 Preview: Sanchez vs Lynn

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Blue Jays (15-12) vs Twins (9-14)

MLB: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After ending a rough homestand with a win over the Rangers, the Blue Jays head to Minnesota to kick off a 3 city, 7 day, 8 game road trip. Tonight’s contest begins at 8:10 ET (Note that this game starts an hour later than normal, so don’t turn on your TV, swear at it, think it’s on Facebook and write mean things to poor Mark Zuckerberg).

Blue Jays’ Starter

Aaron Sanchez is making his 6th start of the season. He has a 1-2 record with a 3.69 ERA over 31.2 innings.

In his last start against the Red Sox, Sanchez purposely pitched up more in the strikezone, and as a result ended up with a season high 8 strikeouts. He was still able to get the groundballs as well, as 53.8% of the balls in play were still on the ground.

With a lefty heavy Twins lineup, Sanchez might be in a bit of trouble. Throughout his career, lefties have hit .236/.335/.385 off Sanchez, while he’s held righties to a .211/.275/.300 line. He has been working on a new changeup, which traditionally is an equalizer pitch to minimize the platoon advantage. So far in the small sample, lefties have a higher wOBA against the changeup (.296 vs .202 for righties), but the xwOBA of his changeup against lefties (based on exit velocity and launch angle) is an impressive .187 in the ridiculously small sample.

Twins’ Starter

Late offseason signing Lance Lynn is making his 5th start in a Twins uniform. The first 4 haven’t gone well for the right hander. He is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA, with 18 walks and 20 hits over his 18.1 innings. The bright spot is that he has struck out 22 batters.

Lynn throws a four seamer, cutter or sinker about 85% of the time, occasionally mixing in a curveball or changeup. This repertoire has given him a solid career, posting a 3.46 ERA over nearly a 1000 career innings, so the early season struggles probably won’t last.

Lefties have had a lot happier time at the plate against Lynn, hitting him for a career .255/.358/.430 while righties haven’t done quite as good, putting up a .228/.288/.338 across his 7 seasons.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Given Lynn’s poor splits, look for a lineup that will feature Granderson, Morales, Smoak and Solarte from the left side. Hernandez, Pillar, Martin, Gurriel and Diaz is more righties than you’d like to throw at Lynn, but that’s the best the Jays can do.

Grichuk, Maile and Pearce will be on the bench for this one (unless someone is sick or something like that).

On the whole, the Jays’ lineup has a .322 wOBA on the season, which translates to a 99 wRC+. But their xwOBA is .365, which is second behind Boston’s .366. Kendrys Morales and Russell Martin are the only active players that have an xwOBA below the team’s current wOBA, so the signs are pointing towards an improved offense going forward.

Twins’ Lineup

They have two righties in the regular lineup - Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano. And Sano is dealing with a tight hamstring, so he might not even be in this one. This is the kind of lineup that you’d like your lefties to go up against, but Happ and Garcia don’t line up for this series.

Collectively the Twins have a 93 wRC+. Eduardo Escobar (140), Joe Mauer (138) and Max Kepler (130) are off to great starts, while Robbie Grossman (63), Jason Castro (39) and Logan Morrison (43) are off to bad ones.

They could really use a DH to platoon with LoMo, someone who can hit lefties well.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Ryon Healy of the Mariners had the big bat, going 3-4 with 2 home runs and a double. His 4 RBI helped Seattle to a 10-4 win over Cleveland.

Tyler Chatwood of the Cubs threw 7 shutout innings against the Brewers, leading his club to the 2-0 win and earning him the title of WPA King with a .440 WPA. That 2-0 win marked the 5th time in 8 games that the Cubs have shut out the Brewers.

The Pitcher of the Day award goes to 26 year old Nick Kingham, who made his Major League debut yesterday. Kingham threw 7 shutout innings with 9 strikeouts and no walks, while not allowing his only hit of the night in that 7th inning.

Milestone Watch

Kevin Pillar is hitting home runs, but he’s not getting stolen bases. Whenever he gets his next 2, he’ll finally be in the top 20 all time as a Blue Jay.

Tyler Clippard has 194 career holds, 4th all time, and 2 back of the still active Joe Smith.

Aaron Sanchez has 296 career strikeouts, so there’s a decent chance he’ll get to 300 today.

Find the Link

Find the link between Lynn and MLB Pitcher Dougie Fresh.