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Game #34 Preview: Buchholz vs Smyly

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Blue Jays (15-18) vs Rangers (15-16

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays will look to earn the series victory today after a wacky loss last night, as they wrap up their 3 game series against the Rangers in Arlington, and also wrap up their west division road trip. Today’s game gets underway at 3:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Headed to the mound for the 5th time in a Blue Jays uniform, Clay Buchholz looks to send the Blue Jays home on a high note. His first 4 starts have been about what you’d expect from a backend starter - averaging about 5 innings with a 4.79 ERA. He hasn’t had a quality start since his first start back on April 13, but he also hasn’t been unplayable either. And when the team is in the position they’re in right now, playable is all we need.

Rangers’ Starter

Veteran left hander Drew Smyly takes the mound on the Rangers’ side. Smyly is off to a bad start to his season over his first 4 games, and also hasn’t pitched since April 19 with tightness/fatigue in his throwing arm. He has thrown just 15 innings in 4 starts, while surrendering 13 runs on 19 hits, chipping in 10 walks and 4 home runs. He has at least managed to strike out 19, so that’s a positive that will no doubt show through in this game.

Smyly is just finally getting back into regular action since coming back from Tommy John surgery. After making 30 starts for the Rays in 2016, Smyly hit the DL prior to the start of the 2017 season, and went for surgery that June. He made it into one Minor League game last season, pitching just an inning, but otherwise these are his first games back post surgery. So it is to be expected that there is some rust there after missing 2 full seasons.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

A lefty on the mound again means that there will be an infielder in the outfield again, because that’s the fun that comes with having Socrates Brito on the roster. It is quite likely that Brandon Drury is our right fielder again in this one.

I think we’ll see Luke Maile get the start in this one as well. Maile and Jansen have each caught 2 of Buchholz’s starts, so there isn’t an assigned duty like the other starters. But seeing as how Jansen would be catching Stroman and Sanchez on Monday and Tuesday, I think this is Maile’s start.

Rangers’ Lineup

They showed yesterday why they’re the highest scoring offense in the game, and even though I don’t expect them to finish the season leading the league in runs, they’re still going to score a lot going forward.

With Isiah Kiner-Falefa having the big triple yesterday, I wonder if the Rangers try to get him back in the game today. He usually catches every 3 or 4 days, while Jeff Mathis gets the bulk of the playing time behind the plate, but sometimes managers like to reward a clutch hit, especially for a young hitter who is otherwise struggling.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Rookie Michael Chavis went 4-6 with a pair of home runs and a double, driving in 3 and earning the Monster Bat award. His output was just a part of the Red Sox dismantling of the White Sox, as they put up 15 runs on 20 hits in their 15-2 win. At one point in the 3rd inning, the Red Sox collected 10 straight hits, the biggest such streak since 2010. Since Chavis’ debut on April 20, the Red Sox are 9-5, and have been playing even better than that. So watch out for the now hot Red Sox.

The Brewers and Mets played 18 innings last night, so pitching performances generally are WPA Kings of those types of contests. Two Mets pitchers threw 3 shutout innings each, collecting .409 WPA. But those weren’t your WPA King winners. That title goes to Ryan Braun, who went 6-8 in that game, including driving a 2-run single to come back and win it in the bottom of the 18th, for a total WPA of .778.

Dylan Bundy of the Orioles made it through 7.1 shutout innings before getting lifted, while surrendering just 3 hits, walking a guy and hitting another. He only struck out 3, but that doesn’t stop him from collecting our Pitcher of the Day award in the Orioles’ 3-0 win over the Rays.

Find the Link

Find the link between Smyly and Justin Upton.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs