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Game #74 Preview: Sanchez vs Skaggs

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Blue Jays (34-39) vs Angels (39-35)

Atlanta Braves v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Happy Summer to all my fellow Northern Hemispherians! (and welcome to the doldrums of winter to the other guys).

The Blue Jays head to Los Angeles for a fun 4 day long weekend, taking on Mike Trout and the Angels. The first game gets underway tonight at the early hour of 10:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays kick things off by sending Aaron Sanchez to the mound. On the season, Sanchez is 3-5 with a 4.35 ERA. He is currently matching the strikeout rate of his amazing 2016 season at 7.55 per 9 innings, while still keeping the ball on the ground at a decent rate (50.4%). The obvious problem this year with Sanchez has been the walks, and it’s a story that keeps being brought up. Through 78.2 innings, Sanchez has walked an amazing and unhealthy 44, which is 5.03 per 9 innings, or 1 in every 8 batters he faces.

Sanchez is having a very good month of June thus far, despite the walks. He has thrown 18.1 innings with a 2.95 ERA, a quality start in each of his 3 starts, and has a 20:9 K:BB ratio. He has limited batters to 14 hits, with only 1 home run and a pair of doubles. The .265 wOBA against is a vast improvement over the .331 and .357 marks he allowed the first 2 months.

Angels’ Starter

Tyler Skaggs makes the start for the home team. The lefty is off to great start to his season, finally delivering on the promise that has been there through all of his injured seasons. In 14 starts and 80 innings this year, Skaggs is 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA. He has struck out 9.68 batters per 9, while limiting walks to just 2.7 per 9. He is getting ground balls at an above average rate (47.5%) which is helping him keep the ball in the yard (8 allowed all year).

As good as Sanchez has been in June, Skaggs has been even better. He has allowed 3 runs (just 1 earned) on 16 hits over 20 innings, brandishing a nice 22:5 K:BB ratio. He hasn’t allowed a home run, but 7 of his 16 hits have gone for doubles, so batters are putting up a wOBA against of Skaggs that is close to Sanchez’s June mark, at .261.

Skaggs faced the Jays on the Angels’ trip to Toronto earlier this year. On May 23, Skaggs went 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits. He struck out 6 and didn’t walk a batter, but did surrender a pair of home runs - solo shots to Devon Travis and Yangervis Solarte. He faced off against Sanchez in that one too, and Sanchez won that part of the duel with 5 shutout innings. But that was the game that Clippard melted down, walking Trout, Upton and Pujols before giving up singles to Ohtani and Simmons and allowing the Angels to ultimately win 5-4.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

With the lefty Skaggs on the mound, that means that Curtis Granderson will be on the bench.

Morales will likely DH, with Hernandez-Pillar-Grichuk across the outfield. The infield will likely be the same as always, with Solarte-Diaz-Travis-Smoak and I would imagine it will be Martin behind the plate.

I would like to see Lourdes Gurriel get the start at SS and give Diaz a break, especially since he’s probably not going to be with the club once Gaviglio comes back from his paternity leave.

I’m not sure what the plan is with Josh Donaldson. We haven’t heard an update on him in a few days, but he might be ready to go. Although if he was, there probably would have been a bit more excitement being built up.

I also wonder what the plan with Steve Pearce is. He is lighting up his rehab assignment in AAA, hitting .364 over 15 PA with 3 walks, a HBP and a home run. He’ll probably continue to play there, at least through the weekend, but it’s something to keep an eye on as well.

Angels’ Lineup

We get the pleasure of watching the best player in baseball in action this weekend. Mike Trout is having a phenomenal season, on pace to have one of the best years in baseball history. He is hitting .335/.469/.689 (213 wRC+), all career high marks, with 23 home runs and 13 stolen bases. He also has 6 defensive runs saved in CF this year, completing the amazing Mike Trout package.

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani is sidelined with some elbow problems. He’s resting and rehabbing at the moment before deciding on whether to get Tommy John surgery, but that also means he’s not in the lineup either.

Elsewhere around the lineup, we have future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, who is struggling through yet another bad season in the twilight of an amazing career.

Justin Upton is off to a nice start to his season, with a 121 wRC+, 16 homers and about average defense in LF.

Ian Kinsler is doing a fine job at 2B, and is displaying good power, but is not getting on base at all, which is bad for someone who is constantly hitting lead off in front of Trout.

Defensive sensation Andrelton Simmons is having a career year with the bat with a 129 wRC+, although he started off last year similarly before fading down the stretch. The extraordinary defense is still there too.

The lineup itself is pretty righty heavy, a good thing for Aaron Sanchez, who has struggled terribly against lefties this year. The only lefties are off to rough starts to their season as well, as Jose Miguel Fernandez (70 wRC+ 29 PA into his career), Luis Valbeuna (67 wRC+ in 210 PA) and Kole Calhoun (12 wRC+ in 192 PA and just coming back from injury) represent the only lefties on the team.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Jose Altuve had the Monster Bat yesterday, going 3-4 with a pair of home runs and a double, helping Houston to the 5-1 win over Tampa Bay, their 13th in their last 14 games, and 50th on the season.

Giancarlo Stanton was the WPA King, hitting a walkoff home run in the Yankees 7-5 win over the Mariners. The home run was worth .433 WPA, accounting for the majority of his .459 mark.

The Pitcher of the Day is unsurprisingly Corey Kluber. The Klubot allowed just 1 hit over 7 shutout innings, walking 1 and striking out out 7 as Cleveland walloped the White Sox 12-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Skaggs and the only guy with same name as a day of week who played in the last 50 years.