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Game #38 Preview: Leake vs Happ

Mariners (20-15) vs Blue Jays (20-17)

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After a come from behind win last night, the Blue Jays go for the series win against the Mariners tonight. The game starts at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

J.A. Happ is making his 8th start of the season tonight. Through his first 7, he is 4-2 with a 3.67 ERA, easily our best starter to start the season. He is getting strikeouts at a career high rate, while limiting walks to a career low, but still being bit by the home run ball. As a result, his xFIP, which normalizes regular FIP with a league average HR/FB rate, is at an impressive 3.02.

Happ’s last start wasn’t nearly as good as his season has been though. In 5.2 innings against the Rays last Friday, Happ walked 4, only struck out 3 and allowed a home run. Thankfully he only allowed 3 other hits, which allowed him to limit the damage to 3 runs, but the Jays still lost to the Rays and their bullpen day 4-0.

Mariners’ Starter

Durable veteran Mike Leake gets the ball for the Mariners, making his 8th start of the season. He has made at least 30 starts in 6 straight years, and gave his team a sub-4.00 ERA in 4 of those. This year, however, he is 3-3 with a 6.28 ERA.

Normally getting his success by limiting walks and keeping the ball on the ground, Leake has induced only 40.9% groundballs compared to a career 50.8%, and he was walked 8.6% of the hitters he has faced, which is much higher than his career 5.7% rate.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I would guess that Russell Martin will be back behind the plate in this one, after spending the day yesterday making some nice plays at 3B.

With the righty Leake on the mound, Curtis Granderson will be back in the lineup as well. I’m hoping that it will be as DH, while either Alford or Pompey gets the start in the OF. Maybe today they give Kevin Pillar a day off in CF.

Mariners’ Lineup

As Jaime Garcia danced around danger before making way for the excellent bullpen, the Jays pitchers did a good job holding down the Mariners yesterday. As was the case against Stroman on Tuesday, the Mariners are doing a great job setting things up, but aren’t doing as well knocking them down, going a combined 3-20 with runners in scoring position thus far this series. That hasn’t been the case for the season though, as they are hitting .271 as a team with runners in scoring position, the 6th highest mark in the Majors.

I would guess that today is the day David Freitas gets the start behind the plate, giving an off day for Mike Zunino. Ben Gamel is probably still on the bench with the lefty going again, allowing Guillermo Heredia to start for the second straight game.

I would imagine the other 7 will be the same though, as they have been for most of the season.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Addison Russell of the Cubs had the monster bat yesterday. He went 3-3 with a home run and a double while also chipping in a pair of walks. His big game helped the Cubs to a 13-4 win over the Marlins.

Pirates third baseman Colin Moran was the WPA King last night. He hit a big 2 run home run in the top of the 9th, turning a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 lead and shortly thereafter a win as the Pirates took down the White Sox.

Carlos Carrasco went the distance last night, allowing 2 runs while striking out 14 and walking 1. He even chipped in an RBI single, as he helped his Cleveland team bring down the Brewers in Milwaukee last night by a score of 6-2 to earn the Pitcher of the Day honour.

Milestone Watch

Donaldson doesn’t seem to be walking or hitting home runs the last few games, so he’s still 2 back of Ed Sprague in walks for 20th and 3 back of Shawn Green in home runs for 13th in Blue Jays’ history.

J.A. Happ is at 614 strikeouts as a Blue Jay, 8 back of Ricky Romero for 12th all time. It’s a reachable goal for Happ today, as he has struck out at least that many in 5 of his 7 starts this season.

Find the Link

Find the link between Leake and Chris Tillman.