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Game #44 Preview: Triggs vs Sanchez

Athletics (21-22) vs Blue Jays (22-21)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays return home after an incredibly brief roadtrip to welcome the Oakland Athletics to Canada. Their 4 game series gets kicked off tonight, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Aaron Sanchez gets the start for the Blue Jays today. He will be making his 9th start of the season, which would put him one start ahead of his number from his injury shortened season last year. He’s 2-3 with a 4.08 ERA, which is at least better than last year, but far cry from his AL ERA Crown 2016 season.

Aaron’s biggest problem this season has been the walks. His lowest total from any start is 2, which he has done 3 times across 6 innings each. He also has a pair of 3s, a pair of 4s and a 5 in the walk department. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s not striking guys out very much at all. He’s had a remarkable 4 starts where he walked more than he struck out, plus another one where he got 2 of each. If he’s going to get and keep his ERA below 4, he is going to have to reign in those walks, and a few more strikeouts would definitely help too.

Athletics’ Starter

The A’s counter with right hander Andrew Triggs. Through 8 games, Triggs is 3-1 with a 5.31 ERA, averaging less than 5 innings per start. He has had 3 brutal starts that are destroying his numbers, as he allowed 16 runs across 10.1 innings in those starts, and he also has 5 starts of 5+ innings and 2 or fewer runs allowed. So while Triggs’ numbers look like those of a bad pitcher, he does have the ability to dominate a game if he’s on.

Triggs missed most of last year with back and hip problems that surfaced at the beginning of June, before undergoing season ending hip surgery in July. Before that, he was off to a decent start to his season, averaging almost 5.5 innings and a 4.27 ERA. Pretty good for a pitcher who before a short stint in the rotation for the A’s in 2016 had been a reliever his entire professional career.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

For the first time in forever, there might not actually be a Major League roster announcement today (maybe to prevent being overshadowed by a potential one in the Minors). Of course, now that I say that, they’ll make a dozen moves.

The lineup won’t likely feature any surprises, which means Morales is probably the DH again. Ushela, Smith and Maile are your bench probables, but Gibby might have some fun. Maybe today is Donaldson DH day.

Athletics’ Lineup

Jed Lowrie (155 wRC+) is the standout here. The veteran second baseman is off to an amazing start, although not nearly as unprecedented as I thought. He has reached that 155 wRC+ with 9 home runs across 187 PA. In a 2010 season that started late due to mono, Lowrie put up a 144 wRC+ with 9 home runs, this time in 197 PA.

Elsewhere around their lineup, SS Marcus Semien (97 wRC+ over 203 PA) and newcomer Stephen Piscotty (83 wRC+ over 142 PA) are the only 2 regulars that aren’t hitting above 100 wRC+, so it’s no surprise to see their team wRC+ of 104 be ranked 8th in all of baseball. But due at least in part to their abysmal baserunning (their -10.5 BsR is 4.7 worse than the second last Marlins) they’re 12th in runs per game.

They’re running a 3 man bench, which includes backup catcher Bruce Maxwell, and two platoon outfielders in Chad Pinder and Mark Canha. I’m not really sure what they’d do if they needed an infielder, but I’m sure they have some plan. Maybe it involves Lucroy going to the infield like the Jays do with Martin.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Yesterday’s biggest bat wasn’t overly monstrous, but we’ll still give out the monster bat award. Michael Brantley went 3-5 with a home run, driving in 2 as he helped Cleveland beat Detroit 6-0.

As much as I want to give J.A. Happ and his 7 shutout innings the Pitcher of the Day spot, he was one of six pitchers who went 7+ shutout innings yesterday. And as a surprise to no one, Justin Verlander was the best of them all. He went the distance, allowing 5 hits and a walk while striking out 7 as his Astros beat the rival Angels 2-0. His efforts also got him WPA King title with a .610 WPA.

Milestone Watch

With 1 out, Aaron Sanchez will have reached the 400 career inning mark.

Josh Donaldson still needs 3 more home runs to tie Shawn Green for 13th as a Blue Jay. He hasn’t hit a home run since the double header in Cleveland.

Find the Link

Find the link between Triggs and the most recent no.1 overall draft pick to retire without ever reaching the Majors.