Blue Jays’ Starter
Lefty J.A. Happ goes for the Blue Jays, looking to build on an already good start to his season. Through his first 12 games, he’s 7-3 with a 4.08 ERA, but his FIP is even better at 3.47. His strikeout rate (11.08 per 9 innings) is the 9th highest among qualified starters, nestled between James Paxton and Vince Velasquez, but his walk rate (2.55 per 9 innings) is better than both of them.
Happ struggled a little bit his last time out against the Tigers. He surrendered 4 runs on 5 hits across 5 innings, while walking 2 and surrendering a home run in the first inning. It was just the third time this season that Happ has failed to pitch into the 6th inning.
Andrew Cashner gets the start for the Orioles, and he’s doing about as well as everyone expected when he signed with the Orioles. Through his first 12 games, he’s 2-7 with a 5.02 ERA, but he is at least striking out more than he did last year. After putting up a 4.64 strikeout per 9 inning rate last season, he has bumped that number to 7.87 this year. But it’s his walk and home run rates that are killing him, as his walk rate is as high as it has been since his rookie season while he is giving up home runs at a career high rate.
When Cashner faced the Jays earlier this season, he put up easily his best start of the season. He threw 7 shutout innings, surrendering 4 hits and walking 3. It was his only game in his first 9 that he didn’t allow at least 1 home run. He is now on a streak of 3 starts without allowing a home run now though.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
I think today will be the real test of what John Gibbons wants to do with his outfield going forward. Randal Grichuk seems like the logical one to get sit against a righty, but he has played most of the games since coming back from the DL and had a big night last night. But unless maybe Granderson is at DH, I would imagine Grichuk will be sitting in this one.
After getting the night off yesterday, Pillar, Martin and Travis will be back in the lineup tonight.
Danny Valencia looks to be in a platoon at 3B with Jace Peterson, but has made the last couple starts against righties. He’ll obviously be in there against Happ, but it’s interesting that they have been going with Valencia against righties too, although he has done much better against righties since his time with the Jays.
Also listed as being part of a platoon and likely in there again tonight are Craig Gentry and Austin Wynns. Wynns will likely start behind the plate again, while Gentry made the start in place of Joey Rickard last night and may do so again today.
In what looks like an interesting sequence yesterday afternoon, Curt Casali gets our WPA King title. He ended up putting up an impressive .776 WPA, perhaps in the least clutch way possible. He added .123 WPA with a second inning double, his only hit and RBI of the game. But leading off the 9th inning down by one, he was hit by a pitch (.135 WPA). An out later he moved to second on a single. During Billy Hamilton’s at bat, Wade Davis uncorked a wild pitch, and both runners moved up, but it seems that WPA swing was added to Casali, the lead runner (.208 WPA). Then Hamilton struck out, leaving 2 runners in scoring position, now with 2 out . But Davis threw another wild pitch in a 1-2 count, allowing Casali to come in and score the tying run (.382 WPA). The Reds would eventually win it in the 13th on a Jesse Winker walk off home run.
The Pitcher of the Day award goes to Jose Berrios of the Twins. He went the distance last night, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, walking none. I believe that would be his 4th Pitcher of the Day award this season, this time helping his Twins beat the White Sox 7-2. An honourable mention goes to Mike Mikolas of the Cardinals, who allowed an unearned run over 7 innings, as the Cardinals beat the Marlins 4-1.
Aaron Loup caught Scott Downs for 8th place in appearances as a Blue Jay yesterday at 347. His next appearance will give him sole possession of 8th, at which point he’ll begin his pursuit of Jim Clancy and 7th place, at 352.
J.A. Happ is taking his second crack at getting career win number 100.
Once Happ gets that 100th career win, it will also be his 57th as a Blue Jay, one back of Kelvim Escobar and 9th all time in franchise history.
Find the Link
Find the link between Cashner and the National League’s starting left fielder in the 1999 All Star game.