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Game #51 Preview: Lucchesi vs Thornton

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Padres (26-24) vs Blue Jays (20-30)

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It’s an exciting day in Blue Jay land thanks to the promotions of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Cavan Biggio, even if they don’t get into today’s game, as an injection of youth into a rebuilding club is always going to a good time. It also helps that the Blue Jays are welcoming in the Padres, who in their own right are a very young and exciting team, except they actually possess the ability to be a good team this year too. But it’ll be a fun series, one that gets underway tonight 7:07.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will go with rookie Trent Thornton to lead them in to battle tonight. Thornton is 1-4 with a 4.41 ERA on the season, with 50 strikeouts and 22 walks over 49 innings. He is coming off an excellent start against the White Sox, where he went 6 innings while allowing 1 run on 3 hits, walking 1 and striking out 4. It was the 6th time in 10 starts that he allowed 3 or fewer hits, which is a really cool thing to see from the rookie. The fact that he only walked 1 was also a nice result, as was completing 6 innings, something that he has only done on one other occasion. So if he can build off that start, that would be fantastic.

Padres’ Starter

Left hander Joey Lucchesi gets the call for the visitors. Lucchesi is 3-3 with a 4.28 ERA through 9 starts, although his FIP is a much nicer looking 3.33. He has struck out nearly a batter an inning, while keeping the walks to about 1 every 4 innings while only allowing 5 home runs so far.

Lucchesi is coming off back to back excellent starts, combining for 12.1 innings between them. In those two games, he has allowed just 3 runs on 8 hits, striking out 10 and walking just 1. He actually hasn’t walked more than 2 in a start this season, and you have to go back to last August 17, 16 starts ago, to find a start in which he walked 3. So look for Lucchesi to be in the zone with his 4 pitch mix, and don’t be surprised if the Jays’ directive is to swing early and often.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The difference in L/R splits for Lucchesi over his career is quite stark, so look for the Jays to load up with as many righties as possible. That may mean that newly called up Cavan Biggio doesn’t make the start tonight. It would make sense to see Rowdy Tellez as the only lefty bat in the lineup.

Brandon Drury collected 2 hits for the third straight day yesterday, so he’s likely in the lineup and could be batting 4th today, bumping Tellez down a spot against the lefty.

Gurriel is probably getting a start today, and it may even be at second base if Drury is in LF. It will be interesting to follow how Montoyo gets all of these multi-position players into the lineup, and I think regardless of how it’s done, Eric Sogard will need to play a lot less.

Padres’ Lineup

Their number 1 prospect, and a consensus top 3 in all of baseball, Fernando Tatis Jr. has been on the Injured List with a hamstring strain since the end of April. I’m sure a lot of people had this series marked off as one of the ones to watch, as two of the most exciting prospects in a while (the other obviously being Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) would be going head to head. But even with Tatis on the IL, there is no shortage of excitement (or legacy players for that matter).

Canadian outfielder/first baseman Josh Naylor will be making his Major League debut in this series, potentially even tonight. Naylor lit up the Pacific Coast League so far this year, hitting .299/.378/.538 with 10 home runs in 45 games, striking out and walking at an impressive 11.5% rate. His lefty bat has a lot of potential, and he is going to be fun to watch.

Prized offseason addition Manny Machado has been playing shortstop since Tatis went down, and hasn’t quite been as butcherous at it as he was last season. For someone who is so spectacular at 3B and fairly bad at SS, I don’t get why teams have allowed him to keep trying at SS. The difference in his defense between the two is not worth having him move over.

Elsewhere around the diamond, right fielder Franmil Reyes leads the team with 15 home runs, really tapping in to the immense raw power that he has. Last year’s big offseason signing Eric Hosmer leads the team in runs, RBI and batting average, so I’m sure they’re quite happy with their ridiculous signing (although it should be pointed out that it’s and odd numbered year, so he was obligated to have a good season - seriously, check out his year to year stats, he has a career 12.2 WAR in odd years, and a -1.4 WAR in even years).

Yesterday’s Heroes

Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop launched a pair of home runs, their only hits of the day but good enough to be co-Monster Bat winners, as their Twins cleared the fence an incredible 8 times yesterday. They obviously completely destroyed the host Angels 16-7.

Carlos Gomez had a lot of fun against the Nationals, capping it off with a huge 3-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to give his Mets the 6-4 lead, which they would hold on to for the sweep. The home run was worth .681 WPA, but that wasn’t even all of his WPA King total of .796. Just look how excited he got too.

Lucas Giolito threw a complete shutout yesterday, allowing 4 hits, a bean ball and a walk while striking out 9 to earn the Pitcher of the Day honours. It was the first shutout of his career, and a continuation of the excellent breakout season he has put together. Considering it was against the powerhouse Astros makes it even better, as his White Sox obviously won, 4-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Lucchesi and Jayhawk Owens.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs