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Game #9 Preview: Stroman vs Minor

Blue Jays (5-3) vs Rangers (3-6)

Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

After holding on tight to a win last night, the Blue Jays get back at it again this evening against the Rangers, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marcus Stroman makes his second start of the season after allowing 4 runs in 5 innings against the Yankees last Sunday. He struck out 8 while allowing 3 walks and a home run.

All of the damage against Stroman came with 2 outs in the 3rd inning. After getting Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge to strike out, he walked Giancarlo Stanton. From there, he allowed a double, single, and the final blow, a 2 out, 2 strike, 2 run home run off the bat of Brandon Drury.

After the Drury home run, Stroman settled back in got the last 7 batters he would face. He left the game with Jays down 4-1. Justin Smoak had an alright game the rest of the way, and the Jays eventually won 7-4.

Rangers’ Starter

Mike Minor spent the 2017 season re-establishing himself as a legitimate Major League Baseball player, pitching 77.2 dominant innings out of the Kansas City Royals’ bullpen. The Rangers signed Minor to a 3 year, $28m contract this past winter, with the intention of putting him back in the rotation, a place he hadn’t occupied in the Majors since an injury shortened 2014 with Atlanta.

In his first start of the season last Sunday against the Astros, Minor went 4.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 5 and walking 2. But that obviously wasn’t good enough because they were playing the Astros, and the Rangers lost that game 8-2.

Minor throws a fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. Prior to going through rotator cuff problems and a torn labrum between 2014 and 2016, Minor was a solid backend starting pitcher who got batters out with a strong fastball/changeup mix. After coming back in the bullpen last year, his velocity spiked, and his slider became a true weapon. In his start last week, his fastball velocity was obviously down from his reliever season, but still well above his previous highs as a starter.

If his shoulder and arm can withstand the increased velocity, he will a good starter for the Rangers. He isn’t likely going to be able to last the entire season in the rotation, so the Rangers will be monitoring his workload throughout the season. If they’re able to keep him healthy, they should be happy with their $28m investment.

Blue Jays Lineup

Today is the 9th game of the season, which means that players on a 2 on 1 off schedule would be in line for a rest. However, there was an off day right in the middle of the last cycle, so that may not be the case.

Devon Travis had a good night at the plate yesterday, but I wouldn’t be surprised to still see him get the day off today. If I had to guess, I would say that Yangervis Solarte will slide over to second base, allowing Aledmys Diaz to get back into the lineup thus giving Travis his regularly scheduled day off.

Russell Martin I expect to be in the lineup tonight. Aside from the fact the John Gibbons has stated that he’d like to get Martin and Travis off the same schedule, Martin is more likely to be behind the plate for Stroman today than Jaime Garcia tomorrow. So my guess here is that Martin is in today.

Steve Pearce will start in LF again. Everywhere else is the same.

Rangers’ Lineup

After working over Loup and Oh in the 7th inning last night, the Rangers bats looked rather formidable. That hasn’t been the case overall on the season though, as their 3.22 runs per game is still 3rd worst in the AL.

But what that inning did show is that they are a capable offensive unit, and shouldn’t be expected to be a push over. However, Stroman has had success against the Rangers in the past, however small the sample be. Current Rangers have a combined .533 OPS over 36 PA in regular season games. He also held them to a .611 OPS in 2 ALDS starts in 2015 (he didn’t pitch in the 2016 ALDS sweep).

Yesterday’s Heroes

Manny Machado was the monster bat across the league, going 4-5 with 2 home runs and 2 walks, as the Orioles eventually beat the Yankees 7-3. That line also made him our WPA King, with a 0.48 WPA, even though it was teammate Pedro Alvarez who hit the 14th inning grand slam for the win.

Yesterday’s top pitcher was our very own Marco Estrada. Estrada went 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and a walk, while striking out 7. He had a rough 6th inning, but danced out of a bases loaded jam. In hindsight, he probably could have come out for the 7th and the Jays would have been alright.

Milestone Watch

Pearce never got a hit last night, so he’s still 3 hits short of 500 for his career.

Roberto Osuna on the other hand did get the save, inching closer to that 100 mark. But considering it was 8-0 at one point, I’m kinda sad he got the save.

Find the Link

Find the link between the Rangers’ starting pitcher and the man who prevented Kris Bryant from being a unanimous MVP.