After a brutally long day that was originally supposed to be an off day in which we were treated to 8 hours of baseball plus a win and a loss, the Blue Jays head on down to Tampa to take on a rested Rays team. The first game of the 3 game set starts tonight at 7:10 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
J.A. Happ is making his 7th start of the season, and he has looked really good early on. Through 36 innings, he’s 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA, striking out an incredible 50 while walking just 7. He is coming off back to back starts of 7+ innings with 9+ strikeouts and 0 walks - only the second Blue Jay to do so (and first to do it chemically free*).
The Rays are doing all sorts of weird things with their rotation. What used to be a strength based on the quality at the top and the depth down below, the Rays pretty much have 3 guys they trust to be starters, and then piece together a 4th one while taking advantage of off days to not need any more.
So today’s starter is a part of that piece together 4th guy, and it’s Andrew Kittredge. So far this season, Kittredge has started 2 games and relieved 7, but never pitching more than 3.1 innings in any appearance. He has thrown 13 innings total with a 6.23 ERA, striking out 7 and walking 5.
The right handed Kittredge throws a fastball and a slider, and will drop in a changeup a couple times a game.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
They had a 2 man bench in the second game last night, and have all sorts of roster moves to make to clean things up. Justin Smoak isn’t likely to be back from his Paternity Leave today.
With Pearce going on the DL yesterday, I’m not really sure who we’ll see coming up next. The Jays DFA’d Gift Ngoepe, so there are only 2 infielders left on the 40 man in the Minors - Devon Travis, who if he didn’t come up yesterday isn’t coming up until his 16 days are up, and Richard Urena, who just got back to Buffalo after an injury and brief rehab. Neither seem likely to get the call.
That leaves Tellez, Alford and Pompey as the only position players on the 40 man left in Buffalo. However, the chances might be pretty good that Luis Santos gets the DFA treatment, and we see someone like Tim Lopes get added. Stay tuned today for the roster decisions though, because it’s going to be fun.
Otherwise, we’ll have some combination of Grandy, Pillar, Teo, Donaldson, Gurriel, Solarte, Diaz and Martin playing. Likely Morales too, however unfortunate that may be.
Daniel Robertson and Rob Refsnyder seem to be in a bit of a platoon with Joey Wendle and Denard Span, so they’ll probably be in there against the lefty Happ today.
Kevin Kiermaier is on the DL with a torn thumb ligament, and will be for a while.
Otherwise it’s business as usual for a team that has put up a surprising .262/.331/.404 line, good enough for a 104 wRC+. They’re not doing anything exceptional, as they rank around the middle or lower third in things like home runs, walks and strikeouts. But they’re right at the very top in BABIP at .324, even though their line drive rate is below average, and their exit velocity is 4th last in the Majors. They’re getting by on well placed grounders, which sounds exactly like how they usually beat the Jays.
Thank goodness Stroman isn’t pitching in this series.
Not every day do you get 11 plate appearances, but Yangervis Solarte took advantage of the opportunity and went a team record breaking 8-10 with a walk and a pair of home runs in our double header split yesterday. With his 11th inning grand slam in game 1 and second inning home run in game 2, he was also WPA King for the day, putting up a .699 mark.
Julio Teheran was the Pitcher of the Day, throwing 7 shutout innings with 2 hits and a pair of walks against the Mets. He didn’t allow his first hit until the 7th inning, but stranded the bases loaded that inning as his Braves went on to beat the Mets 11-0.
You may want to keep your eye on the Angels game today, as Albert Pujols enters the game sitting on 2999 hits. Once he gets number 3000, he will be the 32nd player to reach perhaps baseball’s most esteemed milestone.
Now that Josh Donaldson is back, we can get back to tracking his Blue Jay record pursuits. He has 116 home runs as a Jay, 3 back of Shawn Green for 13th place. 7 more walks ties him with Adam Lind for 19th. And he’s 3 doubles short of 100 for his Blue Jays’ career.
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