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Game #83 Preview: Zimmermann vs Happ

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Tigers (36-48) vs Blue Jays (39-43)

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Canada Day! The Blue Jays continue their series against the Tigers today, looking to take game 3 of the 4 game wrap around series. Baseball things get underway at 1:07 ET, but other festivities will begin sooner than that.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Left hander J.A. Happ, who is likely to be the Jays’ representative at the All Start Game in a couple weeks if he’s still on the Jays, gets the ball. He’s 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA over his first 16 starts. His K/9 has fallen below 10 recently, as he continues to pitch more to contact and gets back to the Happ of the last couple years (who is still a very good pitcher).

His last time out against the Astros, Happ worked hard through 6 innings, ultimately giving up 3 runs on 7 hits. It was a valiant effort against a very good hitting ball club (MLB high 121 wRC+ against lefties), so being able to do that well while also earning the win over Justin Verlander was quite the accomplishment.

Tigers’ Starter

Right hander Jordan Zimmermann goes for the Tigers. He missed over a month from the beginning of May through the middle of June with a shoulder impingement. Over 9 starts, he’s 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA, but has better peripherals than that ERA would suggest. He has struck out batters at an 8.49 per 9 inning rate, while limiting walks to just 2.18 per 9. He is one of the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball this year, but has done a decent job keeping the ball in the park considering. Add all of that up, and he’s pitching to a 3.51 FIP.

Zimmermann has been a mixed bag of good and bad starts. In his third start, he was hit in the face by a comebacker and was removed after just 2 batters. For the other 8 starts, he has allowed 0 runs in 3, 4 runs in 3, and 6 runs in the other 2. All 3 of his scoreless starts have come in his last 4 games, giving him a 1.23 ERA over his last 22 innings, something you might here from Pat Tabler on the broadcast today.

Zimmermann has consistently gotten away from his fastball. While he used to throw it over 70% of the time as recently as 2014, he is down to just 47% use this year (between the 4 and 2 seamer), as his slider (35.0%) and curveball (12.5%) are featured just as prominently.

Lineups

Up against the righty, Curtis Granderson gets the start at DH over Kendrys Morales. And Russell Martin is back behind the plate for Canada Day.

For the Tigers, Niko Goodrum makes his second straight start at 2B, and James McCann is back behind the plate after getting the day off yesterday.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Rafael Devers earned the Monster Bat award, going 5-5 with a home run and a double, scoring 3 times and driving in 4 as he helped lead his Red Sox to the 11-0 drubbing of the Yankees.

Gregory Polanco hit a triple in the top of the 9th last night, driving in the 3rd run of the game and putting himself at 3rd with none out, down by 1. But a pair of short fly outs to the right fielder and a strikeout stranded him there as the Padres held on to win 4-3. That triple from Polanco contributed .310 WPA towards his WPA King total of .436.

Swinging back to the 11-0 beat down the Red Sox gave the Yankees is where we find our Pitcher of the Day. Chris Sale held the Yankees to just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 11 over 7 shutout innings.

And also in yesterday’s heroes (although this was 2 days ago, but a hero nonetheless)

Find the Link

Find the link between Zimmermann and former teammate Max Scherzer (specifically a single game feat).