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Game #17 Preview: Shoemaker vs Perez

Blue Jays (5-11) vs Twins (8-4)

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Jackie Robinson Day to everyone!

The Blue Jays head to Minneapolis in the middle of April with the intention of playing 4 games. I have a lot of questions for the schedule makers in this one, but the one that I’m going to publish is why is it a 4 game series? I don’t actually know the odds, but I would guess that most teams coming in to Minnesota can expect at least a decent chance of missing a game early in the season. Why would you make a team that is only coming once come in early in the season without an off day at the end of the set?

Anyway, the Jays and Twins play a 4 game set this week, likely in front of hundreds of Jays’ fans that made the trek down from Manitoba and Saskatchewan (it’s only 1450 km from Saskatoon to Target Field, our closest MLB park!). Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:40 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Number 42 gets the start for the Blue Jays. It’ll actually be Matt Shoemaker, who is off to an excellent start to his 2019 campaign. He is 3-0 on the season, accounting for 3 of the 5 wins the Blue Jays have. He is currently sitting on an 0.92 ERA, although with a much more realistic 3.46 FIP, which in itself is still an excellent number. In his 19.2 innings this year, Shoemaker has allowed just a pair of solo home runs (and 2 unearned runs), while walking 5 and striking out 19.

Twins’ Starter

The Twins will also be going with number 42 for the start, although his name is Martín Pérez. You might remember Pérez from his time in Texas, specifically the opposing pitcher in Marco Estrada’s game 3 season saving masterpiece in 2015.

Pérez, who signed a 1 year, $3.5m deal to sign with the Twins over the winter, will be making his first start after getting 3 relief appearances in to start the season. Over 8.1 innings of long relief, it is safe to say that the lefty Pérez has struggled. He has allowed 8 runs (7 earned) on 11 hits and 9 walks, although he at least hasn’t allowed a home run. And he has a 1-0 record, so that’s something.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

In case you didn’t hear the news, Lourdes Gurriel Jr was optioned and we are finally calling up our best hitting infielder from Buffalo, Eric Sogard. Sogard brings his formidable left handed swinging bat to the Majors, which really makes me wonder who is going to play second base today. Do the Jays go with Sogard, who has a 65 wRC+ in 286 career plate appearances against lefties, or do they go with Alen Hanson, the switch hitter who has a 36 wRC+ in 131 career plate appearances against lefties? (remember, 100 wRC+ is league average, and less is not better).

With Shoemaker on the mound, look for Luke Maile to be doing the catching.

Twins’ Lineup

The Twins’ big offseason addition was the signing of Nelson Cruz, who is off to a great start for them. Cruz is hitting .320/.485/.520, good enough for a 176 wRC+. He has hit just 1 home run thus far, although he has been limited to just 33 plate appearances because the Twins have played 5 of their 12 games in National League parks, and Cruz isn’t fit for the outfield.

The Twins did have 3 other relatively big offseason additions to their lineup as well. Jonathan Scoop takes over the long held Brian Dozier position, and has a 118 wRC+ in the early going. C.J. Cron, who had a big year in Tampa last season but was still let go and went to the Twins on waivers, is not doing very well thus far with just a 64 wRC+. And late offseason signing Marwin Gonzalez has an even worse 7 wRC+ in the early going, taking playing time away from the great Willians Astudillo, who should be getting a lot more playing time than he is so far.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Marcell Ozuna went 2-5 with a pair of home runs yesterday, driving in 4. That’s good enough for the Monster Bat award, as he helped lead his Cardinals to the 9-5 win over the Reds.

German Marquez enjoyed the friendly confines and friendly batting order of the host Giants, as he carved through their lineup surrendering just a 7th inning single to Evan Longoria and 6th inning bean ball to Kevin Pillar in his complete game shutout. This is easily enough for the Pitcher of the Day award in the Rockies 4-0 win.

David Price threw 7 shutout innings in what was a 1-0 game most of the time he was in there, which does wonderful things for your WPA. Price’s WPA King total of 0.480 helped the Red Sox beat the Orioles 4-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Pérez and Cole Hamels.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs