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Game #57 Preview: Garcia vs Hardy

Blue Jays (25-31) vs Tigers (26-30)

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Looking to carry forward the positives of their excellent April (16-12, their best opening month since 2009), the Blue Jays, after taking a month off, continue their season in Detroit tonight. The game gets underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Jaime Garcia takes the mound for the second time since coming back from the DL. His first start couldn’t have gone much better, as he allowed 1 run on 5 hits over 7 innings, striking out 5 and walking NOBODY! He also, for just the third time this season, had a GB% of at least 50%. He has had 3 games this season where he had a game score of at least 50 (which is league average), and all three of those games have been the same 3 games as his 50%+ GB rate. If Garcia can realize that his success is tied to getting the ball on the ground (and replicate it), as it has been his entire career, we could still see a good season out of him this year.

Because even with that gem in his last start, his season isn’t going well. Through 9 games, he’s 2-3 with a 5.52 ERA. His BB rate (4.14 per 9 innings) is significantly higher than his career average (2.83) and his previous high (3.67). His home run rate (1.77 per 9 innings) is significantly higher than his career average (0.87) and his previous high (1.36). Obviously the 31 year old will see a decline in his performance as he ages (Author’s note: I too will be 31 in less than 2 weeks and I hope no one is writing that I’m facing an immediate and inevitable decline), and Garcia has lost over 1 mph on his fastball since last year, but hopefully that isn’t going to continue to lead to the increase in home runs and walks. Although many were predicting he would allow more walks based on recent trends, I don’t think it makes sense to be this bad.

Tigers’ Starter

31 year old lefty Blaine Hardy makes the start for the Tigers. He has spent most of his professional career pitching in bullpen, but has been making a few starts as needed nearly every year, although never in the Majors before this year. This year, between AAA and the Majors, Hardy has made 7 starts and 7 relief outings (3 starts and 4 relief in the Majors). He has a 1-0 record with a 2.70 ERA across 20 Major League innings, so he’s been successful thus far.

In his last start, Hardy went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 and walking only 1 against the White Sox.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Josh Donaldson should either be back today or headed to the DL. I’m going to be optimistic and say that he’ll be back.

Randal Grichuk is rehabbing down in Buffalo still, and even though we’re facing another lefty and don’t have a right handed bat to relieve Granderson, I don’t imagine we’ll see Grichuk activated for this series. I’m thinking (and hoping) that he’ll get an extended look down there to get comfortable at the plate again.

Russell Martin catches sometimes, and I’m thinking he’ll do so today too. Luke Maile is in an 0-18 stretch and is losing a lot of the value he built up earlier in the season.

Yangervis Solarte should be our starting SS (words I never thought I’d type) given the current make up of the team. Unless there’s a roster move today, but I don’t really foresee anything happening. The last few times the Jays made a roster move around an off day, they optioned the guy before the day off to save having to pay the guy an extra day (or maybe to make it so he can be called up earlier, but there’s no Cheap Rogers narrative there).

Tigers’ Lineup

They only have one hitter on the DL right now, but it’s the one hitter I wanted to actually watch on this team. Miguel Cabrera has been down since May 3 with an injured hamstring. Before that injury, Miggy was having a bounce back year from his abysmal 2017. Through his first 26 games, he had his wRC+ at 146, just short of his career 149 mark, and a vast improvement from his strange 91 wRC+ from last season.

Elsewhere around the roster, Jeimer Candelario (142 wRC+) and Nicholas Castellanos (140) are helping to pace an offense that is right in the middle of the pack in runs (4.29 per game).

They are not, however, hitting home runs. Their 48 as a team is second worst in the Majors (Marlins have 42). Candelario leads the team with 8.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Francisco Lindor gets the Monster Bat award. He went 4-5 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles, scoring 3 and driving in 4 as Cleveland held on for 9-8 win over the Twins (they were up 8-0 at one point).

Francisco Cervelli hit a big 3-run home run in the top of the 8th inning to give his Pirates the 8-5 lead over the Cardinals. But Felipe Vasquez (nee Rivero) couldn’t hold that as the Cardinals won 10-8, despite Cervelli’s award winning (WPA King) performance in which he put up a .458 WPA.

Pitcher of the Day honours go to Aaron Nola of the Phillies. Nola threw 7 innings of 1 run ball, surrendering just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 7. The only 2 hits came in the same inning, of course, as a 5th inning leadoff double was scored an out later on a single. But Nola still got the win as the Phillies beat the Dodgers 2-1.

Milestone Watch

I believe in Josh Donaldson being in there, and if he is, he’s still got some home runs to hit. He is still, almost a month later, looking to close the 3 HR gap between him and Shawn Green.

Donaldson has at least still been taking his walks, and now sits 7 back of Joe Carter for 17th all time as a Blue Jay. Carter did it in more than twice as many plate appearances

Donaldson is also 8 hits short of 900 for his career and 500 as a Blue Jay.

Aaron Loup is 3 appearances back of Scott Downs for 8th most as a Blue Jay.

Find the Link

Find the link between Hardy and a the return for Vernon Wells.