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Game #51 Preview: Gaviglio vs Eflin

Blue Jays (23-27) vs Phillies (28-19)

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

After yet another terrible loss yesterday afternoon, the Blue Jays find themselves at the exact same record as they were after 50 games last season. The Blue Jays look to right their sinking ship as they head to Philadelphia for a weekend series, with the first pitch tonight at 7:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Sam Gaviglio is making his second start and 4th appearance in the Majors this year. So far, he is 1-0 with an 0.93 ERA, with 12 strikeouts and 2 walks over his 9.2 innings.

In his first start last Saturday, Gaviglio went 5.1 shutout innings, helped by Seunghwan Oh stranding the pair of baserunners Gaviglio left behind right after the Jays put up a 4 spot on the board. But this was the game that the Athletics came back big and late, capped by a grand slam off Tyler Clippard and the Jays couldn’t hold on to win.

Phillies’ Starter

Right hander Zach Eflin (who probably hates Zac Efron more than a normal person should), makes his 4th start for the Phillies after starting the season as the 6th starter. He has fared much better than our 6th starter, going 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA (but with Garcia due to make his start tomorrow, our 6th starter might be headed for the bullpen unless he’s shipped to AAA today).

His last start didn’t go as well as his first two though. He only lasted 4.2 innings against the Cardinals, surrendering 4 runs (but only 2 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks.

The only home run he has allowed all season came off the bat of Justin Bour in on May 1.

Eflin made his Major League Debut against the Jays on June 14, 2016 against the Jays. It was a completely different Jays’ team then, but we lit him up for 9 runs on 9 hits, including 3 home runs, through 2.2 innings. Pillar, Donaldson and Encarnacion got the homers, while Donaldson also touched him up for a pair of doubles.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I feel like we might see a bunch of changes before this game gets underway, although I have no idea what they might look like. So we’ll just assume the roster is constructed the way it is right now, until we hear differently.

Which means the the outfield is likely to consist of Granderson, Pillar and Hernandez, with Donaldson, Urshela, Travis and Smoak across the infield and Martin catching.

Gio Urshela has looked perfectly fine at SS so far, but I would still rather Solarte’s bat and take what you get for a few games of his defense at SS. Although maybe today is a day off for Travis. Not sure on that front.

We’ll also get to see what Gaviglio can do with the bat. @Yay National League Baseball@

Phillies’ Lineup

They had the day off yesterday, so they should be rested and ready to go.

As a team, they’re hitting .238/.324/.396, good enough for a 98 wRC+. They have the highest walk rate in the Majors (10.8% - although I’m not sure if that’s on them or if that’s on the Braves and Marlins pitching staffs), and the 4th highest strikeout rate (25.4%).

Playing center field is the team’s prized gem stolen from the Rangers. Odubel Herrera is off to a great start to his season. Coupled with his typical very solid defense, he’s having a breakout year with the bat (although he was a career 107 wRC+ before this season). Through his first 46 games, he’s riding a .397 BABIP to a .343/.406/.535 line, which is good for a 160 wRC+.

The only active platoon I see seems to be going on in RF. Left handed hitter Nick Williams has garnered most starts recently against righties as right handed Aaron Altherr has been on the bench.

While not in the lineup, I would be remiss not to mention that old friend Drew Hutchison is hanging out in the Phillies bullpen.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Brandon Nimmo on the Mets had the Monster Bat. He went 4-4 with a walk, while also chipping in pair of doubles and a triple. Not very often our Monster Bat goes without a home run, but with only half a slate of games and Nimmo still getting the extra bases, he earned it.

Alex Bregman hit a big go ahead 3-run home run in the 5th inning against Cleveland yesterday, getting his Astros on the board and out in front 3-2. The Astros piled on the next inning, making it an 8-2 final which was capped by an RBI double by Bregman as well, although that was only a 2.4% WPA swing. Bregman’s .352 WPA for the whole game nets him the WPA King title.

Pitcher of the Day should probably go to the RaysBlake Snell’s 6 shutout innings, but I’m giving it to Dylan Bundy of the Orioles, who went the distance in a 9-3 win over the White Sox. Bundy struck out 14 and walked just 1 while giving up 2 hits. He allowed a 2 out, 3-run home run in the 4th after a hit by pitch and a dropped third strike extended the inning.

Milestone Watch

Josh Donaldson will get a home run this series. Maybe even the 3 he needs to catch Shawn Green.

Find the Link

Find the link between Eflin and the guy who was given the only significant bonus to a high school pitcher by the Blue Jays since Shapkins took over (hint in Matt’s work).