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Game #54 Preview: Sanchez vs Chirinos

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Blue Jays (21-32) vs Rays (31-19)

San Diego Padres v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Blue Jays head down to the House of Horrors in Tampa Bay to take on the Rays for a 3 game set. It is Memorial Day in the US, so today’s game is an early one, kicking off at 1:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will send Aaron Sanchez to the mound hoping to start the series on a high note. Sanchez is coming off one of his best starts of the season against the Red Sox his last time out. He entered that start with concerns over a blister that forced him out of the previous game early, but he quickly put that thought behind everyone. He made it through 6 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 5. The strong start brought his season ERA and FIP down to 3.79 and 4.54.

Rays’ Starter

The Rays have announced that Yonny Chirinos will make the actual start today. He has pitched in 10 games this season, 4 times as the starting pitcher, and 6 times out of the bullpen, generally as the long man after the Opener has run through a good chunk of the lineup. What manager Kevin Cash takes into consideration when making this decision I don’t know, but maybe it has to do with the Jays’ weak lineup and not needing to look for an advantage?

Chirinos has faced the Jays once already this season, and it was his worst appearance of the season and arguably the worst of his career. Chirinos came in to start the 5th inning, and allowed just a walk and single in his first 2 innings, but otherwise escaped unscathed. Then in his 3rd inning of work, the Jays touched him up for 6 runs, as he gave up doubles to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez, before his night was ended by a Luke Maile home run. However, this was also the game that the Rays destroyed Trent Thornton, putting multiple balls into the 5th deck, and the Rays still won this game 11-7 .

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Lourdes Gurriel will look to continue his recent home run barrage since coming back from Buffalo. He has a home run in all three games, and with yesterday’s 4 hit performance, is 6-10 since his return.

Justin Smoak is also on a strong run offensively, having hit 5 home runs in his last 5 games.

Luke Maile caught Sanchez his last time out, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Maile behind the plate again in this one, giving Danny Jansen the opportunity to catch Clayton Richard again tomorrow.

Rays’ Lineup

As a unit, they’re just outside of the bottom 10 in runs scored, checking in at 4.52 runs per game, despite being tied with the Yankees with a 109 wRC+ overall, although the park adjustments favour the Yankees for obvious reasons.

The Rays have a very deep and balanced lineup, featuring just 1 player with 40+ PA and a negative WAR (the Jays have 6 of these guys - the Rays also have 6 guys with a higher WAR than our highest, but they’re supposed to be a good team, so it happens).

The core of their lineup from the top through 5 are hitting very well, as they typically line it up as Austin Meadows (186 wRC+), Tommy Pham (137 wRC+), Ji-Man Choi (100 wRC+), Avisail Garcia (124 wRC+) and Brandon Lowe (sounds like wow, 132 wRC+).

Catcher Mike Zunino is on the Injured List right now, so doing the bulk of the catching is former Jays’ prospect Travis d’Arnaud. And backing him up is Erik Kratz, so a lot familiarity for Jays’ fans there.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., with his 4-4 game including a home run and double, gets the Monster Bat award from yesterday’s 10-1 win over the Padres.

Mike Trout hit a big double in the bottom of the 7th, moving to 3B on an error and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball/error. The comedy of errors allowed the Angels to win 7-6 over, surprise surprise, the Rangers. Trout’s WPA King total was a very solid .521.

Brandon Woodruff threw 8 spectacular innings yesterday, striking out 10 and walking none, and allowing a leadoff home run in the 6th inning as the only baserunner to reach all day. Woodruff outhit his opponents even, notching a pair of hits and driving in 2 as he really earned that Pitcher of the Day award. His Brewers beat up on the Phillies 9-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Chirinos and former Jays’ prospect Marcus Walden.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs