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Game #60 Preview: Sabathia vs Estrada

Yankees (38-18) vs Blue Jays (26-33)

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

After a day off to do Day 1 of the MLB Draft, the Blue Jays return home to take on the Yankees (blech) for a short 2 game series. Tonight’s contest kicks off at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marco Estrada makes his 12th start of the season. He’s 2-6 with a 5.68 ERA across 58.2 innings. His BB/9 (2.61) is the lowest it has been since before he was a Blue Jay, but his K/9 (6.44) is also a career low. Couple that with a career low GB rate (26.0% - which would be the second lowest in baseball among qualified starters if he had gotten one more out and was a qualified starter) and he has allowed 1.84 HR/9, also among the 10 worst in baseball. And despite that high FB rate and a below average exit velocity, Estrada has struggled with BABIP, which is surprising also given his previous ability of running very low BABIPs. His .310 mark on the season is nearly 100 points higher than his amazing 2015 season, and is likely due for a pretty solid reduction. Although his wOBA of .373 isn’t a whole lot off his xwOBA of .369.

His last time out against the Red Sox, he got knocked around early and often. He surrendered 4 runs in 3.2 innings, giving up hits to 7 of the 18 batters he faced. The good news from this start - he didn’t walk anyone of allow any home runs, a rare combination for the Blue Jays this year.

Yankees’ Starter

The 37 year old CC Sabathia is making his 11th start of the season. Through his first 50.2 innings, Sabathia is 2-1 with a 3.73 ERA.

He has faced the Jays twice this year already, pitching a combined 9.1 innings while surrendering 4 runs (only 1 earned) on 9 hits and 3 walks. He only struck out 5 in that span, but also held the Blue Jays homerless, which is impressive when you consider that these games were played when the Jays were near the top of the league in home runs and seemingly hitting them every game.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I haven’t heard an update on Teoscar Hernandez yet. I hope he is back, because otherwise it’s Granderson vs the lefty Sabathia, and that’s a contest that Granderson has only “won” (4 singles and a walk) 5 times out of 25.

Otherwise, it’ll be pretty status quo I think. Martin behind the plate, Solarte-Diaz-Travis-Smoak around the infield. Pillar and Grichuk out in the outfield with hopefully Hernandez, and Morales at DH.

Yankees’ Lineup

The Blue Jays last played the Yankees on April 22. Since then, the Yankees have hit .257/.333/.481 (119 wRC+) as a group, smashing a league leading 66 home runs and scoring 207 runs (5.75 per game). Their pitching has also heated up in that span, giving a 3.48 ERA, which has lead to an incredible 27-9 run (and it’s actually 30-10 since the start of the last series against the Jays). But that all stops now! (I hope)

Luke Maile leads our team with 1.1 WAR. He would be tied with Austin Romine for 7th on the Yankees. Aaron Judge leads the team with an impressive 2.9 through the team’s first 56 games, smashing 16 home runs and running an OBP over .400.

Elsewhere around the lineup, Greg Bird (139 wRC+ in 32 PA) has returned from injury and has been inserted between Judge and Stanton.

Stanton has heated up a bit (131 wRC+ over the last 30 days), but still hasn’t been the hitter Yankee fans envisioned when they traded for him. But he’s still a menacing bat that will be a struggle to work around.

The one bat that has been struggling since the Jays last played the Yankees is Didi Gregorius. Over his first 109 PA and launching his 10th home run on April 27, Sir Didi was batting an absurd .368/.459/.828 (229 wRC+). In 123 PA since then, he has 1 home run and is hitting an anemic .154/.195/.205 (2 wRC+).

Yesterday’s Heroes

With most teams getting the day off yesterday because of the draft, we have 5 games (including a Tigers-Yankees double header that was added to the schedule) to choose from.

But even with the short field, Jefry Marte didn’t disappoint as the Monster Bat. He went 4-4 with a home run, helping his Angels to the 9-6 win over the Royals.

Also helping the Angels was Mike Trout (he does that occasionally). He chipped in 3 singles, but did so at pretty important moments, contributing an impressive .486 WPA, which included a game tying single in the 6th and a go ahead single in the bottom of the 8th, earning the WPA King title. As an aside, it kinda amazes me that while doing this, I think it is only the second time that Trout has gotten Monster Bat or WPA King, yet he’s at the top of the leaderboards again. He’s just consistently great, but there are daily flash in the pans that are better, and Trout gets his amazing numbers every season through consistency, not occasional huge games.

Even though we only had the 5 games yesterday, we had deserving recipients of all three awards. Because in game 1 of the double header, Luis Severino pitched 8 innings of 2 runs (1 earned) ball against the Tigers. He gave up just 4 hits while walking none, striking out 10 along the way as the Yankees took the opener 7-4 (thankfully the Tigers took the night cap 4-2).

Milestone Watch

Aaron Loup pitched the other day, and got to within 2 of Scott Downs for 8th in appearances as a Blue Jays’ pitcher.

Marco Estrada needs 11 more strikeouts to catch AJ Burnett for 19th all time as a Blue Jay. It has been weeks since I brought this one up, and it still feels like it might be weeks away.

Estrada also moves into sole possession of 16th place on the Jays’ list of career starts. He’s currently tied with Kelvim Escobar at 101. Doyle Alexander is next on the list at 103.

Find the Link

Find the link between Sabathia, the active leader in Pitcher’s WAR, and the guy who is 3rd for batters (and I’m not going for head to head stats or anything).