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Game #69 Preview: Sanchez vs Cole

Blue Jays (25-43) vs Astros (46-23)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After winning a series against the worst team in baseball, the Blue Jays continue their road trip to Houston, where they will take on the best team in baseball, the Astros, for a 3 game series. Tonight’s game gets underway at 8:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Aaron Sanchez will head back to the mound, looking to overcome the struggles he has had on the mound recently. Sanchez is 3-7 on the season with a 4.25 ERA, but since the beginning of May he is 0-6 with a 5.71 ERA. His two starts in June certainly haven’t helped those numbers either, although he did at least make it through 6 innings in both games. That probably is the biggest thing for Sanchez right now - make it through 6 innings, exit the game after 100 pitches instead of via a finger problem, and hold the opponent to less than several runs.

Astros’ Starter

The Astros will counter with right handed Ace Gerrit Cole. Cole is 5-5 with a 3.72 ERA, but his underlying numbers are much better. Thanks to a 13.82 K/9 and 2.13 BB/9 rates, numbers that are reserved for the elite of the elite relievers, Cole is holding an xFIP of 2.38, which is .32 points below the second best number held by Blake Snell. However, Cole has had a bit of bad luck with home runs, as fly balls are leaving the park against him at a 22.1% rate, resulting in 15 now in his 14 starts.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Last night was a lot of fun watching the kids do well. The combination of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Cavan Biggio and Danny Jansen went a combined 11-18 with a walk, and drove in 9 runs. Those 4 are likely to be a big part of the future around here, and it was great seeing them flex their muscles together. Now we need to see more of that.

Astros’ Lineup

They currently have some pretty big names out of their lineup and on the Injured List. Superstars George Springer, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are all down, as are backups Aledmys Diaz and Max Stassi, really forcing the Astros to plunge into the depths of their system.

As a result of their injuries, the other superstar in their lineup, Alex Bregman, has shifted over to SS while his 3B position has been backfilled by Yuli Gurriel, who is no doubt excited to have his brother in town. Tony Kemp has been making most of the starts at 2B while Altuve has been down.

Across the outfield we’ll likely see some combination of Michael Brantley, Jake Marisnick and Josh Reddick most games, although thumping rookie Yordan Alvarez could make his way out there too, although he’ll likely be at DH most of the time. Alvarez, who has played just 3 games at DH so far, has 2 home runs and 5 walks in 14 plate appearances, giving him a .222/.500/.889 slash line.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Shohei Ohtani hit for the cycle yesterday, but that wasn’t quite as good as what Charlie Blackmon did. Blackmon had the home run, triple and single, but instead of settling for just a double, he launched his second home run, and earned himself the Monster Bat award. His Rockies beat the Padres 9-6.

Zack Greinke made it through 7.1 shutout innings, including the first 6 being no-hit innings, and ultimately allowed 2 hits and a bean ball. His Diamondbacks were still able to take the 5-0 win over the Nationals, and Greinke gets to bring home another Pitcher of the Day award.

Harrison Bader froze the Mets - Cardinals game with a game tying, top of the 9th ending and rain bringing double that was the final play of the night. On Bader’s double, he drove in Kolton Wong with the tying run with 2 outs, but was thrown out trying to advance to 3B. With score tied at 4 and the top of the inning done, the game was suspended for rain, and they’ll continue that tonight at 6:10, hoping to be ready for their regularly scheduled 7:10 game. Bader’s double was worth .308 WPA, a good chunk of his WPA King total of .395.

Find the Link

Find the link between Cole and John Buck.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs