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Game #43 Preview: Happ vs Wheeler

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Blue Jays (21-21) vs Mets (20-18)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After an ugly, terrible, not good game last night, the Blue Jays go for the 2 game split this afternoon. Today’s game starts at 1:10 ET, so don’t tune in this evening and be sad.

Blue Jays’ Starter

J.A. Happ is making his 9th start of the season. Through his first 8, he’s 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA. His season looked so much better 2 weeks ago, when he was 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA. But the month has turned to May, and he has allowed 10 runs in his 9 innings, striking out only 6 and walking 6, while watching 3 long balls fly over the fence.

His last start against Seattle was especially terrible. He threw a lot of pitches while nibbling the corners, pitching more like Happ 1.0 than the Happ 2.0 we’ve enjoyed since the start of 2016. He allowed 10 hits and walked 2 over his 3.1 innings, ultimately leading to 7 runs.

I miss April Happ.

Mets’ Starter

One-time uber prospect Zack Wheeler is making his 7th start with the Mets, after starting the season in AAA. He has had mixed results to his season thus far, having 2 starts of 6+ innings with 7 strikeouts and only 1 run allowed, but also a pretty bad stinker against the Rockies, where he allowed 8 runs on 10 hits over 6 innings. In total, he’s 2-2 with a 5.03 ERA.

The right handed Wheeler throws a fastball at 95 mph, a changeup at 88 mph, a hard slider at 90 mph, and a slow curve at 79 mph. They all seem to be decent pitches, with his slider being the knockout pitch. But it’s the command that is preventing him from breaking out. He has a career 10.2% walk rate, which is about 2 points higher than what league average has been across his career.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

They haven’t been hitting well at all in the last couple weeks, putting up a collective .225/.289/.390 line over the last 14 days. Justin Smoak’s 105 wRC+ and Josh Donaldson’s 101 wRC+ are the only two guys with more than 30 PA in that span that have a wRC+ over 100. Solarte is close at 97.

And there isn’t really any help on the horizon (since the prospects aren’t getting called up anytime soon). Aledmys Diaz, who was struggling until a couple days before his injury, started a hitting progression with light running. So that doesn’t sound like a return is imminent by any means.

Steve Pearce, who was off to a good start at the plate, has yet to resume baseball activities.

Randal Grichuk, who surprisingly might actually be an addition to this team now, has started running and doing some outfield work, so he might only be a couple weeks away.

And Troy Tulowitzki started running on an anti-gravity treadmill, which to me still means he’s months away.

As for today’s lineup? Maile will catch, Urshela might play somewhere in the field. I hope Morales doesn’t play 1B.

Mets’ Lineup

Their 12 run outpouring was the third time this season that they scored double digits, getting 11 off the Nats on April 18, and scoring 14 against the Padres on April 29. For the record, they lost both games after those outbursts, scoring a total of 6 runs in those 2 games. That they did it without Frazier, Gonzalez, Conforto and Cespedes is impressive.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Nobody had a multi-homer game yesterday, so today’s monster batter will go to Juan Lagares, who chipped in 4 hits (including a triple) and 3 RBI in yesterday’s atrocity.

Robinson Chirinos of the Rangers is our WPA King. He had a 2 run single in the 2nd, a game tying single in the 6th, and a big single in the 8th that moved the go ahead runner to 3B. In spite of all of this, the Rangers still lost 9-8 to the Mariners in 11 innings.

The Pitcher of the Day goes to Jordan Lyles of the Padres. Lyles took a perfect game into the 8th inning, but surrendered a 1 out single, followed by a walk and he was pulled from the game. In his 7.1 innings, he struck out 10 with only those 2 runners reaching all night. The Padres beat the Rockies 4-0 as the bullpen held the Rockies hitless the rest of the way.

Milestone Watch

Josh Donaldson still needs 1 walk to tie Ed Sprague for 20th as a Blue Jay, and 3 more home runs to tie Shawn Green for 13th as a Blue Jay.

J.A Happ needs 5 more strikeouts to reach Ricky Romero and 12th place all time as a Blue Jay.

Find the Link

Find the link between Zack Wheeler and the second Blue Jays’ catcher to hit 20 home runs in a season.