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Game #95 Preview: Stroman vs Johnson

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Blue Jays (43-51) vs Red Sox (67-30)

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Blue Jays, more than ready for a 4 day break, conclude the first half of their season today. First pitch in Boston is set for 1:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marcus Stroman goes for the Jays, looking to build on his terrific start his last time out in Atlanta. In that start, he went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits and a pair of walks. He did an amazing job keeping the ball on the ground, allowing his defense, including himself, take over.

Even including the start where he got beat up by the Mets, Stroman has put up some good numbers since coming back from the DL. In his 4 starts, he is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA over 23.2 innings. He has walked just 7 (2.66 per 9 innings) and has done an amazing job keeping the ball on the ground (68.6% groundball rate) and in the ballpark (0.76 per 9 innings). If that’s the pitcher he can be going forward, his end of season result will look much better than where it was headed a month ago.

Red Sox Starter

Left hander Brian Johnson is being activated from the DL to make a spot start, his 4th of the season (Eduardo Rodriguez goes the other way to make room). Through 3 starts and 21 relief appearances, Johnson is 1-2 with a 4.23 ERA over 44.2 innings. He is doing a good job limiting the walks (2.62 per 9 innings), while striking out less than league average (7.46 K/9 rate).

Johnson features an upper-80s fastball that he complements with a slider and curveball. His curveball so far appears to be the only one that could be a plus pitch, although it has played closer to Major League average thus far.

Lineups

Today's Lineups

TORONTO BLUE JAYS BOSTON RED SOX
Randal Grichuk - CF Mookie Betts - RF
Yangervis Solarte - 3B Xander Bogaerts - SS
Teoscar Hernandez - LF J.D. Martinez - LF
Justin Smoak - 1B Mitch Moreland - 1B
Kendrys Morales - DH Steve Pearce - DH
Russell Martin - C Brock Holt - 2B
Devon Travis - 2B Eduardo Nunez - 3B
Dwight Smith - RF Sandy Leon - C
Aledmys Diaz - SS Jackie Bradley - CF
Marcus Stroman - RHP Brian Johnson - LHP

With Kevin Pillar now on the DL, centre field time likely belongs to Randal Grichuk going forward. And that means Dwight Smith gets the start in RF today. Not sure if we’ll see anyone else up with the club after the break, but we do have 4 outfielders still.

We also only have a 2 man bench today - Luke Maile and Curtis Granderson, so Russell Martin is our backup infielder. Thank goodness the 4 day all-star break starts tomorrow.

Steve Pearce is back in the lineup for the Red Sox, even against the righty Stroman. Mitch Moreland is also back in the lineup at 1B, so he appears to have gotten over whatever it was that was bothering him.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Three different Pirates had 2 home runs yesterday, but they played a double header in which Marte and Polanco went back to back in both games. But Jordan Luplow only played in 1 of the games and hit his 2 there, so with the fewer chances, I’ll give him the Monster Bat award. The Pirates won that game 6-2, but they also won the other 2-1 over the Brewers. Fun fact: 7 of the Pirates 15 hits yesterday overall were home runs, all solo shots.

The Angels and Dodgers played a fun game last night. Kole Calhoun hit a go ahead home run in the top of the 10th after the Dodgers tied the game up in the bottom of the 9th. The back and forth affair had 14 different plays that had a greater than .100 WPA swing. But Calhoun’s was the greatest, and gave him the WPA King title with a .449 WPA in the Angels 5-4 win.

Zack Greinke worked 7.2 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and no walks to earn the Pitcher of the Day award. He helped his Diamondbacks shut out the hometown Braves 3-0.

Milestone Watch

Aaron Loup is 3 relief appearances back of Paul Quantrill for 5th in Blue Jays’ history.

Find the Link

Find the link between Johnson and Yasiel Puig