Kendrys Morales did all things baseball last night, helping the Jays to the 7-4 extra inning victory. Today, the Blue Jays go for the sweep of the Twins before heading to Cleveland for a pair of games tomorrow. First pitch this afternoon, and note the early start time, is at 1:10 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Marcus Stroman is making his 6th start of the season, and his ERA looks like an error at 8.88. Now that we are officially into May, we can start considering being worried. If he doesn’t lower that number today, I’d start thinking about a lingering shoulder problem and considering DL time, and letting tomorrow’s 26th man hang out in the bigs.
Stroman’s biggest problem this year has been the walks. Perhaps it’s a part of the trend that we have been seeing in his career, as every year his walk rate has risen. In his rookie season, he had a walk rate of 5.2%. In his comeback 2015, that was bumped to 5.8%. In 2016, it was up to 6.3% before jumping to 7.4% last year. But this year it’s at 12.3%, which is higher than Josh Donaldson’s career walk rate.
But walks aren’t Stroman’s only problem. When batters do get pitches to hit, they are hitting them hard. Stroman’s 92.8 mph average exit velocity is 4th highest among pitchers with at least 50 balls in play off him. This has helped fuel a .354 BABIP and a 21.4% HR/FB rate, numbers that look entirely unsustainable, but can also be partly explained by the high exit velocity. Just probably not quite to that extent.
I originally thought I was going to write about Phil Hughes. But in a move that was apparently announced a couple days ago (and maybe Tom had it in the View From the Other Side article I haven’t had the pleasure of reading yet) the Twins instead called up exciting prospect Fernando Romero to make the start, optioning John Curtiss to make room.
Baseball Prospectus has Romero as the Twins 3rd best prospect, and 97th overall, while MLB.com is a bit more bullish, calling him their second best and 68th overall. Fangraphs says he has 50 FV potential, possessing a plus-plus fastball and a great slider with a fringy changeup and shaky command.
In 21 innings in AAA Rochester, Romero had 20 strikeouts with 10 walks, giving up 8 runs (6 earned) on 17 hits. With the great fastball and slider, he’s likely to be a pitcher that racks up strikeouts, but also give some of that back in walks. The Jays batters will probably have a bit of a tough time this afternoon, but there is a chance there for success.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Kendrys Morales stole a base last night. He also took a pair of walks and hit a single. And he jacked 2 home runs. He was worth 0.6 fWAR, getting his season number up to -0.1.
Anyway, with Steve Pearce likely still out today with rib cage tightness (whatever that means), I have no problem saying that Morales is going to be in the lineup today against the rookie right hander. He’ll probably not be good, but for this one day, we have the vision of him doing well.
Gift Ngoepe and Luke Maile will keep the bench warm.
Jason Castro is apparently dealing with a knee injury, so I don’t know how long he will be out for. Or maybe more relevant, I don’t know how long the Twins can go with only 1 catcher on the roster, especially when that catcher is back to back Jay of the Day Mitch Garver. But I think the chances are pretty decent we see Garver again.
Otherwise, it’ll be similar to what we’ve seen from them. Gregorio Petit got the call up yesterday to take Miguel Sano’s roster spot, and got the start at 2B. He might get another start today, maybe at SS.
Kendrys Morales is quite easily and obviously the player of the day. I don’t even need to look this one up. He went 3-3 with a pair of walks and home runs, and a stolen base. No one can top that. (/looks it up for journalistic integrity, is immediately vindicated)
But Morales doesn’t get WPA King. He didn’t even get it for the team. Mitch Garver had the high mark, followed by Pillar and then Morales. But the real WPA King is Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, who hit a game tying home run in the 9th, and also got a boost from a 7th inning leadoff double in a 1-run game. His Cardinals did win 3-2, thanks to his .588 WPA.
Pitcher of the Day is Justin Verlander. He threw 8 shutout innings, surrendering 3 hits and no walks while striking out 14 Yankees (although 3 were Stanton). But he left in a 0-0 game. Ken Giles came in to surrender 4 runs to the Yankees, and as he was leaving, he did to himself what I’m sure thousands of other people were also wishing to do. And the Yankees beat the Astros 4-0.
Kevin Pillar picked up a stolen base last night, the 60th of his career. He’s now 1 back of Jose Reyes and Raul Mondesi for 19th all time as a Blue Jay.
Marcus Stroman needs 16 strikeouts for 500 for his career. Also, Luis Leal sits at 491 in 21st place as a Blue Jay, so that’s maybe a tiny bit more achievable for Stroman today. Marco Estrada and 20th place is at 498 if Stroman somehow has a Verlander type day.
Find the Link
Find the link between Romero and Tzu-Wei Lin