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Game #92 Preview: Happ vs Price

Blue Jays (42-49) vs Red Sox (65-29)

Toronto Blue Jays v Atlanta Braves Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Blue Jays head to Boston for a four game series to officially put an end to their disappointing first half. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays lone All Star Game representative, and probably no longer deserving at that, JA Happ makes his final start in what started out as a great first half of the season. He will look to rebound from a pair of terrible starts against Detroit and New York that saw his season ERA rise from 3.62 to 4.44. His last start was especially terrible, as he lasted just 2.2 innings against the Yankees, surrendering 6 runs on just 4 hits (2 of them homers) as he struggled with his command and the umpire in allowing 6 walks on the night as well.

Don’t expect Happ to struggle anywhere near where what he went through in his last two starts though. To be fair to Happ, Detroit and New York are two of the best lefty mashing teams in baseball, so not doing great against them was to be expected (just not to the levels that he did). But now facing a more league average (against lefties) Red Sox team, he will look to right the ship and rebuild some of the confidence playoff bound teams had in him that he would be a good bet in helping to take on the Red Sox down the stretch.

If ever there was a start that teams like the Yankees will be watching Happ intently, this will definitely be it.

Red Sox Starter

When the Jays signed Happ prior to the 2016 season, there was a lot of outcry that they went for Happ, the much cheaper signing, than going all out for the front of the rotation starter that is opposing Happ and Jays, David Price. I think it’s fair to say that the Jays made the right decision on that one.

On the season, Price is 9-6 with a 4.44 ERA. He is struggling with walks more than in recent years, currently sitting at 3.02 per 9. From 2013-2016, his highest mark was 1.96 BB/9, but he also put up over 21 WAR over that time frame too. He is obviously no longer that pitcher. What he is now is a starter who approximates more of a mid-rotation starter, who can still be relied upon to put up solid seasons, but isn’t worth $31m a year.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Now that we’re away from the terribleness of NL Baseball, we have our DH spot back, which means Morales is going to be back in the lineup.

With the lefty Price on the mound, Curtis Granderson will be on the bench, while Kevin Pillar returns to CF.

Russell Martin will likely be back behind the plate.

Red Sox Lineup

They are running at nearly full capacity, and are completely destroying the baseball right now. Winners of 9 in a row, the Red Sox are 26-10 since the beginning of June, and are getting there primarily by their hitting. Over the last 30 days, the team as a whole is hitting .296/.365/.478, good enough for a 127 wRC+.

The Red Sox have 5 All Star Game representatives - Sale and Kimbrel from the pitching side, and Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and first time attendee Mitch Moreland from the hitting side. The obvious snub here is Andrew Benintendi, who is hitting .301/.384/.523 (144 wRC+).

Old friend Steve Pearce is on the bench, but could quite possible draw the start in this one against the lefty Happ.

Dustin Pedroia started the season on the DL while recovering from cartilage restoration surgery in his left knee. He returned for 3 games, and then went back on the DL because it wasn’t quite right. There’s a possibility he doesn’t play again this season.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Trade bait Mike Moustakas was our Monster Bat winner last night, going 3-5 with a pair of home runs, but that wasn’t enough as the Royals lost to the Twins 9-5.

CJ Cron hit a big 3-run home run in the bottom of the 7th giving the Rays a 4-2 lead that they would hold on to to overcome the Tigers. Cron had a .551 WPA to earn the title of WPA King.

Jacob DeGrom threw 8 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits and a walk and earning our Pitcher of the Day award, but the Mets’ offence took until the 10th to win the game 3-0 over the Phillies.

Milestone Watch

John Axford is sitting at 532 career appearances, tied for 6th all time by a Canadian. His next appearance will move him ahead of Jesse Crain into sole possession of 6th place. John Hiller is next at 545 appearances.

Find the Link

Find the link between Price and the SS that we just finished a series against.