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Game #157 Preview: Keuchel vs Estrada

Astros (98-57) vs Blue Jays (71-85)

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After earning the split against the Rays, the Jays open their final home series of the season tonight, hosting a 3 game set against the Astros which features the first head to head meeting of the Gurriel Brothers. The game gets underway tonight at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Aaron Sanchez was supposed to make this start, but has instead been bumped due to ongoing issues with his index finger, first injured back in June with an unfortunate run-in with his suitcase.

In Aaron’s stead will be Marco Estrada, likely making his last start in Toronto as a Blue Jay. There have been many memorable appearances in blue for Estrada, and I’m sure this will be an emotional game for Estrada. He’ll look to end his season strong as he hopes to build on his good start against the O’s. Being bumped up to pitch on normal rest his last time out as well, Estrada went 6 strong innings, allowing just a run on 4 hits. It’s fun to watch Marco when he’s on.

Astros’ Starter

Former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel gets the opening game for the Astros. The pending Free Agent is 11-11 with a 3.71 ERA, pitching to a very similar 3.65 FIP. He isn’t getting strikeouts anywhere near his Cy Young level, but he is within half a strikeout of his career level. His walk and home run rate are also both at 3 year lows, which is leading to a strong Free Agency case as the 30 year old looks to cross the 200 inning plateau today.

Keuchel was one of the starters that faced the Jays when these two teams met back at the end of June in Houston. Keuchel turned in one of his worst starts of the season in that one as well, as he went 5.1 innings, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits, with 3 strikeouts and 3 walks. He did keep the ball in the ballpark though, something his groundball heavy arsenal is quite good at.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Lourdes Gurriel Jr likely plays today, and probably every game this series.

Billy McKinney had the day off against the lefty Snell yesterday, but Gibby has said he is going to try not to platoon his young guys. So look for McKinney to be back in there. But also look for Rowdy Tellez to be back on the bench, as he hasn’t sat for a few games and he might as well against the lefty.

Devon Travis has sat the last couple games, so I would guess that he is back at second base in this one.

Luke Maile caught Estrada the last time he pitched, and that was Luke’s last game. It seems likely that Maile gets to catch this one too.

Astros’ Lineup

They’ve wrapped up a playoff spot, but they’re still technically looking over their shoulders to hold off the surging Athletics, however slim their chances of catching them for the Division Title may be. The Astros currently hold a 4.5 game edge over the A’s with 7 to play for the Astros and 6 for the A’s. It’ll take a 1987 Blue Jays-Tigers style meltdown for the Astros to give up their lead.

The Astros’ lineup is obviously deep, this year headlined by young third baseman Alex Bregman (although he has played a lot of SS as Carlos Correa has fought injuries this season). In a league that didn’t feature Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, Alex Bregman would arguably be the best player in the game this year. The 24 year old Bregman is hitting .288/.396/.535 (158 wRC+) but has struggled a bit defensively both at 3B and SS, but nowhere near a level where you start to worry about his ability to stay there. Just enough that you hope he stops moving around the infield and gets better at 3B as he matures.

Elsewhere around the lineup we find guys that have missed a bit of time this year, but are showing to be healthy as the Astros get ready for September. Guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa (who may not be ready for this game), Yuli Gurriel, Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick have all missed time with injuries this year.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Mookie Betts went 4-6 yesterday with a home run and a pair of doubles to earn the Monster Bat award. His Red Sox still lost to Cleveland in 11 though, as Greg Allen delivered the walkoff single with the bases loaded.

Kyle Freeland of the Rockies held the Diamondbacks scoreless over 7 innings, racking up 0 after 0 in the close game which earned him the WPA King title. He put up a .479 WPA in the win as the Rockies fought to keep pace with the Dodgers and Cardinals for a playoff spot, as both teams won big yesterday. The Rockies sit 1.5 back of both, the Dodgers for the NL West title and the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card.

Pitcher of the Day goes to Trevor Richards of the Marlins. He also threw 7 shutout innings, but only surrendered 3 hits to Freeland’s 7. They also both walked 1, while Richards struck out 9 to Freeland’s 6. Richards’ Marlins beat the Reds 6-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Keuchel and Mark Buehrle.