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Game #56 Preview: Thornton vs Snell

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Blue Jays (21-34) vs Rays (33-19)

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Blue Jays will fight to avoid the sweep at the hands of the host Rays as they wrap up their 3 game series in Tampa Bay. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Rookie Trent Thornton makes his 12th start of the season tonight, looking to improve upon his 1-4 record and 4.42 ERA. He’s coming off back to back quality starts, and has looked pretty good 5 of his last 6 starts. He’s still struggling with walks and home runs, of which he allowed 3 and 2 of his last time out, but he also hit double digits in strikeouts for the first time in his career, setting down 10 padres.

Rays’ Starter

The Rays will send their Ace and the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner out to the mound as they shoot for the sweep. Snell is currently just 3-4, a surprising record for a pitcher with a 3.07 ERA on a good team. His FIP is 2.85, which even just on the surface is better than last year’s 2.91 mark. But if you compare it to league average, last year he had a 71 FIP- (where 100 is league average and lower is better) and this year it is down to 64. He has been able to improve thanks to an even higher strikeout rate and a lower walk rate, although he has allowed nearly half as many home runs as last season in less than a third of the innings.

Snell has already faced, and dominated, the Jays this season. On April 13, Snell pitched 6 shutout innings, allowing just a 6th inning single to Luke Maile and a 4th inning walk to Justin Smoak. Otherwise he struck out 9, but didn’t pick up the win because the Jays scored 3 runs off the bullpen and walked away with the win.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Cavan Biggio was sick yesterday and away from the team even. I would be surprised to see him there today too, which is probably alright to not be in the lineup while sick and playing arguably the best left hander in the game.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will look to keep 5 his game extra base hit streak alive. He’s a lot of fun to watch at the plate when he’s locked in, and he seems to be there right now.

Jonathan Davis will likely be in the lineup again in this one, and he’s looking more and more like he could use a trip back to Buffalo. I have no idea who you would bring back up though. Roemon Fields?

Rays’ Lineup

Travis d’Arnaud has started the last two games behind the plate, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Erik Kratz get the catching duty today.

Brandon Lowe and Kevin Kiermaier got the day off yesterday, but they’ll be back in the lineup today.

Thornton will be tasked with slowing the Austin Meadows freight train, and if there was a Jays’ pitcher that could shut down an opposing team’s hit machine, I’d probably go with Thornton at this time. Meadows went just 2 for 4 with a home run yesterday, and is now 9 for his last 13 with 3 home runs and a double.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Derek Dietrich went 3-4 yesterday, launching 3 home runs into the night and driving in 6 runs to earn our Monster Bat award. His bat helped his Reds to win in a bit of slugfest over the Pirates 11-6.

In probably the closest WPA King race we’ve ever had, Alex Bregman pulled out the win over David Price with a .001 difference. Bregman went 2-4 with a pair of home runs, one of which gave the Astros their final lead of the night. They eventually won 9-6 over the Cubs, thanks to Bregman’s .373 WPA.

Trevor Richards made it through 7 strong innings, allowing just 2 hits and a walk, although 1 of the hits was a solo home run to Joe Panik. But it was still enough to win Pitcher of the Day, and still enough to earn the pitching win as the Marlins beat up on the Giants 11-3.

Find the Link

Find the link between Snell and Ron Guidry.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs