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Game #68 Preview: Happ vs Font

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Blue Jays (30-37) vs Rays (31-35)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays get to leave this dump after today, maybe trying to at least not get swept out of Tampa Bay first. Today’s first pitch is an early one, 1:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

J.A. Happ gets the start for the Blue Jays, trying to return the rotation to its pre-Tropicana Field high. Happ is now 8-3 on the season, looking to tie Luis Severino for 3rd in baseball if he can get his 9th win today. He’s pitching to a 3.71 ERA, which is a bit higher than you’d expect if you’ve been watching most of his starts, but he has had a few stinkers this year.

His last start definitely does not fall under the “stinker” category. He threw 7 innings, allowing an unearned run on 2 hits, while also walking 2. He only struck out 3, tied for a season low mark, which is way off his very impressive 10.43 per 9 innings he has put up on the season.

Sometime in the next few weeks, Happ will officially be put on Hug Watch. A pending Free Agent who is having a great year, Happ will likely be one of the most sought after pitchers on the market. I hope they move him sooner rather than later, because I would hate to see Happ sustain an injury during a July 8th start and we miss out on any return we might get for him.

Rays’ Pitchers

Wilmer Font is listed as the opener in this one. He is already on his third team this year, having started his season in the Dodgers bullpen, threw 10.1 poor innings, and then was DFAd. The Athletics acquired him on April 25, and threw him in their bullpen for 6.2 more terrible innings before they too DFAd him. A May 25 trade brought him to Tampa, where he has now thrown 8.1 excellent innings, because that’s just what you do when you come to Tampa. On the season, he has a 10.02 ERA over 32.1 innings, but in Tampa that ERA is 3.24.

Font gets the opener duties for the second time. His first time couldn’t have gone any better, at least for the first 2 innings. He was perfect through 2, including 4 strikeouts. Then he was brought back out for the 3rd inning, where he allowed a walk and pair of singles to the bottom of the order, before getting Dee Gordon to strike out and then getting pulled from the game. I can’t imagine Font getting the chance to go more than 2 innings today, but I guess if he’s rolling along well again, Cash might give it a shot again.

Following Font is likely to be Matt Andriese, although Vidal Nuno could also be an option. Last Friday, after Font got his 2.1 innings, Andriese followed with 2.1 of his own before Nuno finished it off with 4.1. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rays follow a similar pattern today, maybe riding Andriese a bit longer if he’s looking sharp.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Curtis Granderson got the start at DH yesterday, and then was pinch hit for in the 5th inning. If Gibby isn’t going to let Granderson bat against a lefty early in the game, then he probably shouldn’t be in the starting lineup against the Rays. Nuno could very well follow Font in this one, and Granderson would be removed after just one plate appearance. I’d rather Gibby just start Morales and have Granderson available later in the game.

Russell Martin will be back behind the plate after Luke Maile (#DeliverTheMaile) made the start yesterday and probably had nightmares about bouncing baseballs.

I would guess that Devon Travis is going to be on the bench today. Day game after a night game, and recently back from a knee problem, seems like the day they’ll give him off.

Josh Donaldson might be activated today to make giving Travis the day off even easier. If not, then it’ll be Gio Urshela at 3B and Solarte at 2B. As much as I dislike Urshela as a player, I really hate the idea of rushing Donaldson back, so I hope that it’s Urshela at 3B.

Rays’ Lineup

Jesus Sucre is likely to get the catching duties with the day game. It’ll be nice to not have to face Wilson Ramos.

Johnny Field seems like a guy who would have played against us this series, but he has yet to do so. With Happ going today, I can’t see any reason that Field isn’t out there in this one.

The young duo of Willy Adames and Christian Arroyo will be out there in the middle infield again.

Yesterday’s Heroes

For the second day in a row, Mike Trout went head to head with an opposing Mariner, both earning co-Monster Bat awards. This time it was Mitch Haniger, as they both hit a pair of home runs and got on base in another PA (Trout with a single, Haniger with a walk), and the Mariners came out on top again, this time 6-3. Just a side note on Trout’s season - damn!

I really wanted to write about Ehire Adrianza getting the WPA King title, since he put up a .558 WPA and has an amazing name, but I have to write about the excellent game by Ian Kennedy and the subsequent failure of the Royals bullpen. Kennedy went 8 shutout innings, which also gets him the Pitcher of Day, holding the Reds down 1-0 heading to the top of the 9th. Tucker Barnhart greeted Kelvin Herrera with a leadoff home run, which allowed Kevin McCarthy to surrender 4 runs on 4 hits in the 10th inning, including a bases clearing triple from Joey Votto, and the Reds won 5-1, thus sending my WPA King and Pitcher of the Day winner home without a W.

Milestone Watch

Aaron Loup got into last night’s game, and despite what Tom says, it was significant. He’s now just 3 appearances back from Jim Clancy for 7th in franchise history.

J.A. Happ looks to tie Kelvim Escobar for 9th in franchise history with his 58th win as a Blue Jay.

If Donaldson is actually back today, he’s got a nice little list of people he’s closing in on, but I don’t want him to be back today, and therefore will not include them here.

Find the Link

Find the link between Font and the nephew of Chico Carrasquel.