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Game #2 Preview: Boyd at Shoemaker

Tigers (1-0) vs Blue Jays (0-1)

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

Well, yesterday wasn’t the really all that fun, but boring baseball is still better than the no baseball. So we’ll give it another go today, in game 2 of 4 against the Tigers to open the season. The game gets underway at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays go with prized Free Agent signing Matt Shoemaker, who came over on a 1 year incentive laden deal that comes with an option for year two, as he looks to rebuild value after a couple of injury riddled seasons.

Shoemaker made just 7 starts last season, and threw just a total of 31 innings. He threw 77.2 innings in 2017 as well, missing a large part of both seasons due to forearm problems. But he finished 2018 with 6 September starts, had a healthy Spring Training, and is ready to.

Shoemaker brings a career 3.93 ERA/FIP/xFIP, and every time I see those numbers, I think Fangraphs is making a mistake. But I’m fairly certain that is accurate, as he has a near average strikeout rate for his career (8.09 K/9) coupled with a better than average walk rate (2.13 per 9 innings) with a very average looking HR/FB rate as a mild fly ball pitcher.

What the Blue Jays can get out of Shoemaker this season depends entirely on his health. The fact that he finished last year with 6 healthy starts, and looked fairly good this Spring, I’m hoping we get a very good season out of him.

Tigers’ Starter

Former Blue Jay Matthew Boyd gets the start for Detroit in this one. He is having a much better career than most people thought he would when the Blue Jays included him with Daniel Norris in the trade that brought us 3 months of David Price.

In 460 career innings, Boyd has a fairly ugly 5.07/4.79/4.87 career ERA/FIP/xFIP, but his stats have improved as the 28 year has gained more experience. After putting up a 4.51 FIP in 2017, Boyd logged his best overall season in 2018, throwing 170 innings over 31 starts, finishing with a 4.39 ERA and 4.45 FIP. He struck out 8.40 per 9 innings while limiting walks to just 2.69 per 9 innings.

The big red flag for Boyd is the lack of groundballs, which will get him into home run trouble. His 29.0% ground ball rate was the third lowest of all pitchers in baseball who had 100 or more innings last year. However, as we saw during Marco Estrada’s time in Toronto, a high fly ball rate could also mean the pitcher is great at getting popups and inducing weak contact, which Boyd has done a good job of.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

There was some very realistic concern with the Jays’ lineup heading into the season, and Jordan Zimmermann took advantage of it. The Blue Jays as a team are free swingers who lack the ability to get on base, and the fact that Zimmermann made it through 7 innings on just 70 pitches while allowing just a single hit and no walks really drives that point home. Of the 12 hitters currently on the active roster, just Justin Smoak (11.2%) and Danny Jansen (9.1% in 98 PA) have a career walk rate higher than last year’s 8.5% league average.

Collectively they’ve hit .248/.304/.418 for their careers, so don’t be surprised to see more games like yesterday going forward. At least the game, even though it took 10 innings, was over in a brisk 2:25.

Tiger’s Lineup

Not much was expected from this group entering the season either, and Marcus Stroman was able to take advantage of that in his 7 shutout innings. Christin Stewart, Jeimer Candelario, Niko Goodrum and Nicholas Castellanos all hit the ball quite hard (>106 mph) while collecting their hits, and those 4, plus Miguel Cabrera, are expected to be the core of the offense.

Find the Link

Find the link between Matthew Boyd and Todd Stottlemyre.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Savant both fantastic sites that I suggest spending several hours of your day going down their worm holes.