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Games #31 and 32 Preview: Double Dip in Cleveland

Garcia and Biagini for the Jays (17-13) vs Carrasco and Plutko for Cleveland (16-13)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In a make-up double header from a pair of rained out games in Cleveland on April 14 and 15, the Blue Jays stop by Cleveland for a day on their way from Minnesota to Tampa. And it’s probably going to rain again, potentially postponing these two games further. If they are able to get the games in, the first one is scheduled for 1:10 ET, with the second one scheduled to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first.

Blue Jays’ Starters

Jaime Garcia gets the ball in game 1. He’s 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA across 26.2 innings and 5 starts this year. He started the year strong, but his results have been trending down hill pretty solidly since then. In his last start against Texas on Saturday, he allowed 5 runs on only 5 hits, but it was the 4 walks and 2 home runs that ruined his day.

Joe Biagini is getting the ball in the second game. This would be his second Major League start this season, both in the second game of a double header. The first time around, he went 5.2 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks. In Buffalo this year, Biagini is 0-2 with a 5.17 ERA after getting knocked around by Pawtucket last Saturday.

Cleveland’s Starters

Carlos Carrasco gets the ball in game 1. He’s off to a great start to his season. He is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA over 6 starts. In his 38 innings, he has allowed 29 hits and 7 walks, striking out 32. The strikeouts are unusually low for him, as he has struck out nearly a batter an inning in his career, and more than that the last 4 years.

Carrasco’s start last Saturday was cut short to 3 innings, as he was battling back tightness. I’m sure Cleveland is hoping and expecting Carrasco to be over that, because having to dip into the bullpen early in the first game of a double header would make the day a whole lot harder.

Adam Plutko will be making his first career Major League start. He had 2 relief appearances in 2016, but has been a starter for his entire Minor League career.

Thus far in AAA in 2018, the right hander is 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA. He has an exceptionally low groundball rate, as most years it is in the low 30% and this year it is down to 26.8% so far. Major League average is generally in the mid to low 40s, while the high water mark is usually around 60% for qualified starters.

Blue Jays Lineups

Josh Donaldson might be activated today, which is fantastic news. If they’re able to hold off activating him until game 2, I could see that being the case as I doubt he would play both games.

Luke Maile is going to catch one game, and Martin the other. I’m guessing we’ll see Martin in the first one and Maile for the second, which is what the Jays did in their double header against the Royals.

Steve Pearce had a sore ribcage the other day, so I would imagine if he can’t go today he’ll have to be DL’d. Kevin Pillar made an amazing catch that was followed by an awkward landing on his wrist. Teoscar Hernandez took a nasty tag to the temple yesterday as well, and was slow getting back out to the field after being checked by the training staff. With Randal Grichuk already on the DL, we could be down up to 4 outfielders (although I really really really hope that’s not the case). But amazingly, that’s not as terrible news as it would sound. Anthony Alford and Dalton Pompey, although they have been struggling a bit in AAA, are both healthy and ready to go if they need to be called upon. I just hope they’re not necessary.

Cleveland Lineup

Cleveland is in a much better place offensively than the last time the Jays were in town. On April 14, the entire Cleveland team had a collective wRC+ of 66. They’re now up to 92 on the season, as they have a 116 wRC+ since then, while launching a Major League best 28 home runs in that time frame. So they’re back to being a scary ballclub.

Jose Ramirez missed yesterday’s game due to mild groin/hip soreness, but is expected to be back in there today.

Otherwise they’re a fully healthy unit who will have the platoon advantage most of the day, and are coming off a 12 run outburst last night. They hit 5 home runs off the Rangers, including 3 by Edwin Encarnacion. As we saw in his days in Toronto, when he’s hot there isn’t anyone better. And he looks to be hot.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Mookie Betts edges out Encarnacion as the day’s best hitter. They both hit 3 home runs, but Betts also chipped in a single to go 4-4 while EE was 3-5 on the day. So Betts gets the award, helping his Red Sox top the Royals 5-4.

Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals gets WPA King for the day. He allowed 1 run over 7.1 innings against the White Sox, good enough for a .436 WPA. But he also hit a 6th inning go ahead home run, giving him a .179 mark as a hitter. So his .615 WPA on the day was easily enough to get him the award, as his Cardinals beat the White Sox 3-2.

The Pitcher of the Day was Luis Severino of the Yankees. He threw a 5 hit shutout, walking 1 while striking out 10, leading the Yankees to a 4-0 shutout of the Astros.

Milestone Watch

Kevin Pillar needs one more steal to get into the top 20 as a Blue Jay.

Kendrys Morales will be playing in his 1200th career game today, whenever he steps up to the batters box.

Find the Link

  1. Find the link between Plutko and the last non-Victorino Phillies outfielder to win a Gold Glove.
  2. Find the link between Carrasco and the Phillies team leader in home runs in 2003.