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Game #118 Preview: Reid-Foley vs Keller

Blue Jays (53-64) vs Royals (35-82)

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Blue Jays hit the road for a 7 game trip, starting with 4 in Kansas City tonight. The first game gets underway at 8:15 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Front Office has finally done it, calling up top prospect Sean Reid-Foley instead of going with yet another dreaded bullpen day. Reid-Foley began the season ranked as our number 9 prospect, and put up a really good season between AA and AAA this year. In 8 AA starts before being moved up, he was 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA. He had a 3.43 FIP, which he lowered in 15 AAA starts down to a 3.04, although his 3.50 ERA isn’t as shiny. But the important thing is that he walked just 2.95 batters per 9 innings in his 82.1 AAA innings, which was his second best mark behind a 57.1 inning stretch in his second try at Dunedin in 2016.

Royals’ Starter

The Royals go with rookie Brad Keller to open the series. Keller, who was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the Rule 5 draft from Arizona and then quickly traded to KC, has had a pretty good rookie season. He is 4-5 with a 3.57 ERA over 12 starts and 21 relief appearances.

Keller features a fastball, sinker and slider, mixing in the uncommon changeup. The fastball sits mid-90s, while the sinker has good speed and movement, getting whiffs as well as allowing him to induce a lot of grounders.

Royals Review

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Not only is Sean Reid-Foley making his Major League debut, but so too is his battery mate Danny Jansen. Minor Leaguer has a section on the times a Jays’ catcher and pitcher made their debut in the same game. This is going to be an exciting game.

Russell Martin seems destined to be our third baseman until one of Solarte, Drury or Gurriel are back, but at least he has been hitting well lately.

Kevin Pillar started the day on the bench before playing hero as the pinch hitter in the 6th, but he’ll be back in CF for the start of this one. Curtis Granderson will probably get a start in this one too, relegating someone else to the bench. I would guess Grichuk, since he hasn’t sat for a while.

Royals’ Lineup

They’re in a brutal dogfight with the Tigers to determine who is the worst offensive unit in baseball. As of right now, they’re second last in wRC+ at 82, but if you include the BsR metric, Fangraphs has them dead last in offensive value. They’ve also scored the fewest runs per game, sitting at just 3.66. Couple that with the fact that they’ve also allowed the most, at 5.50 per game, and their -216 run differential is impressively terrible.

On the cheery side, Whit Merrifield is a good baseball player and is still on the Royals. The 29 year old second baseman is hitting .295/.363/.417 (114 wRC+). However, he represents the only player on the active roster that has a wRC+ over 100 for the Royals this year. Mike Moustakas was there, but he’s now in Milwaukee. Jon Jay was there too, but he is now a Diamondback. Jorge Soler and Brian Goodwin have also done it in limited at bats, but they’re both on the DL right now.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Paul Goldschmidt went 3-5 with a pair of homers and a double, earning our Monster Bat award. He also drove in 3 to help his Diamondbacks to the 9-2 win over the Reds.

I’ve waited all season for this moment for our WPA King, and David Bote has finally delivered.

A 2-out, walkoff Grandslam while down by 3. That is the single most WPA you can add on one play, and to do it on a pinch hit is ever better. That play alone was worth .901 WPA, easily making Bote our WPA King in the Cubs 4-3 win over the Nationals.

Max Scherzer threw 7 shutout innings earlier in that game, allowing just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 11. As the Pitcher of Day, he got to watch the WPA King ruin his night. Such is baseball.

Find the Link

Find the link between Keller and Burch Smith.

Fresh Batteries (from Minor Leaguer)

Tonight will be the first time the Blue Jays will have a completely fresh battery to start a game in franchise history. However, they have had four previous games that featured the major league debuts of both a pitcher and a catcher, according’s Play Index function.

1. August 25, 1985 (@ Chicago White Sox)

In this game, 23-year-old Jeff Hearron was the starting catcher and caught lefty reliever Steve Davis, who came in to pitch in the bottom of the 4th inning.

2. April 6, 1988 (@ Kansas City Royals)

Just like tonight, the Blue Jays were in Kansas City when a young 24-year-old catcher by the name of Pat Borders made his debut as a starter in the third game of the season. In the bottom of the eighth, 22-year-old Todd Stottlemyre came in to pitch his first career major league game.

3. September 5, 1991 (@ Cleveland)

This was as close as the Blue Jays got to an entirely fresh battery. Nova Scotian Vince Horsman made his debut as a reliever for the final out of the bottom of the 8th (caught by Randy Myers). Then, with the Blue Jays blowing out Cleveland 13-1, rookie backstop Randy Knorr was called in as a defensive replacement for Myers to catch Horsman in the bottom of the 9th.

4. June 6, 2007 (vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays)

Curtis Thigpen made his major league debut as the game’s starting first baseman before moving behind the plate in the top of the 8th inning. In the top of the 9th, 28-year-old Jordan de Jong made his memorable debut by striking out all three batters he faced.