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Game #29 Preview: Buchholz vs Canning

Blue Jays (14-14) vs Angels (12-17)

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays hit the road out west again, this time making stops in Anaheim and Arlington before returning home next Monday. Today’s game kicks off a 3 game set against the Angels, with the first pitch scheduled for 10:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays kick things off with Clay Buchholz, making his 4th start of the season. Through the first 3, he is 0-1 with a 4.60 ERA, spending perhaps too much time in the strikezone with mediocre stuff. Buchholz’ fastball is down about 2.5 mph from last year’s career low, but he is finding not so terrible results with it thanks to just 3 walks and 2 home runs in 15.2 innings. If either of those rates increase without an increase in his strikeouts (just 8 in those 15.2 innings), then he’s in for a lot rougher ride.

Angels’ Starter

One of the Angels’ top prospects, 22 year old right hander Griffin Canning, will be making his Major League debut this evening. Canning becomes the first player in baseball history with a first name of the legendary mythological creature, possessing the body of a lion and the head of an eagle, although I’m pretty sure Canning bears no resemblance.

Canning checks in as the Angels second best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus and, starting the season with an overall rank of 56 and 63 on those two lists. Fangraphs doesn’t love him as much, calling him the Angels’ 4th best prospect, and 101st overall. Fangraphs gives both his Fastball and Slider a 55 current grade (out of 80, with 50 being an average Major Leaguer), with a good curveball (50) and developing changeup (45 current value, 55 future value). They have hopes for a good command of these pitches too, thinking he’ll eventually get to 55 command as well. If he does get to that level of command of 4 good-to-plus pitches, he’s probably more than a 50 grade starter, which is a mid-backend starter.

Canning made 3 starts repeating AAA to start the season, while also spending some time in extended Spring Training. His 3 starts in Salt Lake City went really well, as threw a total of 15 innings, surrendering just 2 runs (1 earned) on 13 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 17. Across the top 2 levels last year, Canning went 4-3 with a 3.65 ERA, striking out 125 in 113.1 innings, so look for a tough time for the Blue Jays’ batters today.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

We still have Vladimir Guerrero Jr., so that’s exciting. While the rookie hasn’t blown people away with displays of his raw power and hard hit line drives, he has generally shown a pretty good approach at the plate, and has only just a couple times looked overmatched, which is a good sign for the 20 year old. And he’s riding a 3 game hitting streak, so just 54 more to go!

I’m pretty sure we’re going to be sticking with Socrates Brito on the roster, at least through the road trip. Anthony Alford and Jonathan Davis, the two that I think have the highest chance of displacing him, were both in Buffalo last night, so they’re not likely to be making the trip out west. So we’ll get to enjoy Brito probably for at least 6 more days. Then maybe we’ll get a Davis-McKinney platoon starting next Monday, as Davis’ “rehab assignment” nears its conclusion.

Angels’ Lineup

Mike Trout! We don’t get to face the best player in the sport enough, and I’m sad about that fact, but I’m also going to enjoy every chance we do get to watch him. So even though he’s playing against the Jays, go Trout!

Albert Pujols is probably worth watching in this series, and I’m sure Buck and Tabby will let you know every time he is up to bat the reason why. That’s because he’s climbing up the career RBI list, and everyone knows how important they are. But to say that I’m not excited as he closes in on the 2000 mark would be disingenuous, because I love a good Milestone Watch as it is one of the greatest things about baseball. So when Pujols does get those 3 more RBI, which I’m hoping happens in this series, he will become either the 4th or 5th player to ever do that, depending on who you ask. Fangraphs has 4 guys already there, while the Baseball Almanac does not recognize 197 of the RBI that Fangraphs gives Cap Anson credit for (Babe Ruth also has 4 fewer RBI according to Baseball Almanac, although that still holds him in second place either way at 2217/2213). After recently passing Lou Gehrig (1995) and Barry Bonds (1996), Pujols’ next target after the 2000 level is either Anson (2076) or Alex Rodriguez (2086). Hank Aaron’s 2297 tops them all.

Just taking a quick look at the Angels’ Injured List, we see a few pretty big names. There was some chatter that DH Shohei Ohtani might be back this week, but that has been ruled out. He’s still rehabbing his Tommy John surgery (a phrase recently added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary), but the thought is that he’ll still be able to DH this year, even if he can’t pitch. But that’s not happening this week. Also on the IL are Zack Cozart, who went down with a neck injury last week, and Justin Upton, who opened the season on the 60 day IL with a toe injury.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Jesus Aguilar went 3-4 with a pair of home runs, driving in 4 to earn the Monster Bat award. His big night helped his Brewers to the 5-1 win over the Rockies.

Evan Longoria hit a huge bases clearing double in the bottom of the 7th, driving in all 3 of the Giants runs in their 3-2 win over the Dodgers. That play alone was worth .537, so he was otherwise having a forgettable day before that, but he still gets the WPA King title with a .478 WPA on the day, just barely beating the .473 put up by...

Jake Odorizzi, who threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 7 and winning the Pitcher of the Day honours. His Twins needed every out he gave them, as they eked out the 1-0 win over the Astros.

Find the Link

Find the link between Canning and Patrick Corbin.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs