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Game #12 Preview: Shoemaker vs Sale

Blue Jays (3-8) vs Red Sox (3-8)

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

In a battle of last place ballclubs, the Blue Jays head to Boston for one of the strangest setups to a 2 game series that I’ve ever seen. The Jays and Red Sox do the Red Sox Home Opener today, then have tomorrow off in case they wouldn’t have been able to get today’s festivities in, and then play the second game on Thursday. Today’s game is also scheduled for 2:05 ET, but due to all the Home Opener brouhaha, including the Red Sox getting their rings, the game won’t start until probably closer to 2:30 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Righty Matt Shoemaker looks to take his early dominance on the road, as he enter with a 2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA over 14 innings. He has been masterful, striking out 15 and walking just 3, while allowing just 2 hits in each game.

Shoemaker’s velocity is down about 1.5 miles per hour right now, but he’s still sitting nearly 91 with his fastball. It’s a worrying trend to keep an eye on, although if it makes his spit finger fastball a little bit better, then it may be a good thing. And although he had great success, today’s game against the Red Sox will be a lot tougher than the Tigers and Orioles.

Red Sox’ Starter

Normally the thought of facing Chris Sale would be terrifying. But he is off to brutal start this year, currently sitting at 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA over 9 innings. He has struck out just 5 and walked 4 while also allowing 4 home runs, as Oakland and Seattle definitely had their way with him.

Sale’s fastball velocity is down over 4 mph in the early going, something that I am sure is setting alarm bells off all over New England. If he’s still sitting that low today, I’m sure there will be a lot more speculation that something is wrong with him. But maybe it’s the cynic in me, as I think he’ll be perfectly normal today, and his start against a badly struggling Blue Jays lineup will be just the kickstart he needs to get his season going.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Freddy Galvis has a career 78 wRC+ over 3133 plate appearances, maxing out at 85 last year. To say that he is very clearly our best hitter and that is a sad snapshot for our offense is a bit unfair to him, as he is mashing the ball to the tune of a 186 wRC+ early going. But he, the underutilized Richard Urena and his .583 BABIP, and Rowdy Tellez are the only Blue Jays with an above average batting line. Randal Grichuk is right around average, while everyone else brings the entire Jays lineup down to a collective 62 so far this season. They’re averaging just 2.64 runs per game, the second lowest mark in all of baseball.

But don’t let all that doom and gloom get you down. They won’t hit like Ryan Goins for the entire season. The low mark for any team this decade is the 2013 Marlins, who put up a 74 wRC+ over the whole season. The 1963 Mets are the only team in the Expansion Era to have a team wRC+ below 70, and they put up a 69 that season. So in other words, this year’s version of the Blue Jays’ offense will be bad, but likely in the 80s for wRC+, not record settingly bad. Which means that things will get better going forward, even if it may feel like it’ll stay this bad.

Red Sox Lineup

There is chatter that Dustin Pedroia is going to be activated today. The 35 year old veteran ill-advisedly played 3 games last year before going back down with knee problems. He hasn’t really played since September of 2017. He had surgery to repair cartilage in his knee at the beginning of 2018, and has had numerous problems with recovery since then. But he’s maybe healthy now, and with the Red Sox having recently put Brock Holt on the IL, they could use Pedroia in the middle infield. I’m sure he’ll start today, and if he’s able to, get as many reps at second base that his body will allow.

Elsewhere around the Red Sox lineup, the usual suspects of J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland and Mookie Betts are pacing the offense, who despite being off to a rough start, are still averaging 4.18 runs per game.

The big surprise for the Sox in the early going is Blake Swihart, who has already made a quarter of the starts at catcher that he did last season, and will continue to see starts back there if his bat can continue to replicate anything close to the .375/.444/.625 line he has put up in 18 PA so far.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Old friend Edwin Encarnacion gets the Monster Bat award for his work yesterday, hitting a pair of home runs in one inning, while also picking up a walk in the game. He, like seemingly every other Mariner, is off to a great start to his season, and his exploits last night were just a drop in the bucket in the Mariners 13-5 drubbing of the Royals.

Defending American League Cy Young Blake Snell picks up the Pitcher of the Day award for his work yesterday. He threw 6 innings, allowing just a run on 6 hits, but struck out 11 and didn’t walk anyone. He picked up the win as his Rays beat the White Sox 5-1.

Robinson Chirinos hit a game tying 2-run double in the 7th inning, a hit that in and of itself was worth 0.364 WPA, a large chunk of his WPA King total of .437, as he helped his Astros beat the Yankees 4-3.

Find the Link

Find the link between Sale and Adam Eaton.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs