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Game #8 Preview: Sanchez vs Bauer

Blue Jays (3-4) vs Cleveland (2-3)

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

After ending their losing streak yesterday afternoon, the Blue Jays hit the road with smiling faces as they head to Cleveland. Tonight is the first game of a 4 game weekend set, with the first pitch scheduled for yet another strange weekday start time, this one at 6:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Aaron Sanchez makes his second start of the season, happy to be back out there after a successful season debut last Saturday. In that start, he went 5 shutout innings, striking out 6 and walking 3. He wasn’t overly efficient, but he was still dominant, averaging 95 mph and hitting 97 with relative ease, while getting an 11.1% whiff percentage.

Sanchez hasn’t faced Cleveland since 2016, once in the regular season and once in the ALCS. The regular season start didn’t go so well as he allowed 5 runs on 4 hits over 4 innings. The ALCS start was quite good, as Sanchez went 6 innings allowing 1 run on 3 walks and a pair of doubles, earning the win as the Jays faced elimination in Game 4.

Cleveland Starter

Trevor Bauer gets the ball for Cleveland in this one, and I’m sure we’re all excited to be in his presence. The less said about Bauer’s personality the better, but he is at least a fun pitcher to watch work. After working tirelessly with the Driveline Baseball development program, Bauer launched himself into the upper echelon of starting pitchers last year, breaking out as a 27 year old. In 132 career games prior to 2018, Bauer had a 4.36 ERA, struck out less than a batter per inning while walking 3.7 per 9, and had a 4.15 FIP. Last season, he established new career bests in strikeouts (11.34 per 9 innings), walks (2.93 per innings), ERA (2.21) and FIP (2.44). He placed 6th in Cy Young voting, and helped lead his Cleveland team to the playoffs.

He’s off to a great start this season too, as he went 7 strong innings against the Twins on Saturday. He allowed just 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 9 and walking 1.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about who got dropped off in Buffalo as the team bus continued on to Cleveland as Buffalo (and the rest of the full season Minor League teams) get their seasons started today. And also because I’m fairly certain that new acquisitions Socrates Brito and Alen Hanson will be in Cleveland waiting for the team to show up.

One fun little tidbit on today’s offensive matchup - there are just 3 teams that don’t have a stolen base yet this season. The now Billy Hamilton-less Reds, as well as the Jays and Cleveland. Cleveland doesn’t even have an attempt yet, while the Jays and Reds at least both have a caught stealing.

Cleveland’s Lineup

They revamped their offense a bit over the offseason, shipping out Edwin Encarnacion and getting Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers back. They also went out and signed Hanley Ramirez and Brad Miller, looking to replace some lost guys like Michael Brantley from an offense that sat near the top in runs scored last year.

So far, that’s not working. Santana and Ramirez are the only ones batting above .200, and Hanley’s 2 home runs are the other 2 home runs the team have hit so far. They have scored just 13 runs in their first 5 games, and have really struggled to get anything going.

Part of that is no doubt due to the absence of Mr. Smiles Francisco Lindor. He has been out since February with a calf issue, and just as he was ramping up and getting into Spring Training games, he suffered a “mild” ankle injury and it appears a late April return to the lineup is an optimistic prognosis.

Yesterday’s Heroes

The Monster Bat is a pretty obvious one, as Randal Grichuk takes home the hardware with a pair of homers and a double (plus another hard out) in the Jays’ 5-3 win yesterday.

Five different pitchers threw at least 7 shutout innings yesterday, but only one of them made it through 8, and I’m giving him the Pitcher of the Day award because of it. Freddy Peralta of the Brewers made it through 8 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and walking none (also the only one of the five to not allow a walk) and struck out 11. His excellent pitching was also good enough for a .640 WPA and title of WPA King, as he helped his Brewers to the 1-0 win over the Reds.

Find the Link

Find the link between Bauer and Justin Verlander (I’m sure there are many, but I want one specific one).

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs