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Game #72 Preview: Peña(?) vs Jackson(?)

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Angels (35-36) vs Blue Jays (26-45)

Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Blue Jays return home after a road trip in which they faced the worst team and the best team, to find a team sitting pretty much at the .500 as they welcome the Angels into town for a four game series. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Even though he has shown up on the Jays’ lineup card the last few days as being a reliever, Edwin Jackson is listed as the starter in this one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jays use Derek Law or someone like that as an opener, paving the way for Jackson to come in after that. Either way, the Jays will be using Jackson again, and it probably won’t be pretty.

Through 5 starts and a bulk job so far this year, Jackson has given the Jays 24.2 pretty bad innings. He is 1-4 with a 10.22 ERA, having given up 10 walks and 9 home runs against just 17 strikeouts. However, his last appearance, coming in after Law opened the game against the Orioles, went pretty well. He threw 5 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits, but also surrendered a pair of walks and a home run. His successful outing was likely aided by the fact it was the Orioles he was playing, but it was still nice to see him make it through 5 innings looking fairly good.

Angels’ Starter

The Angels appear likely to go with an opener, followed by Felix Peña. Peña made four turns through the rotation at the start of the season before the Angels started using an opener in front of him. He had a 4.15 ERA in the first four starts, but his FIP was a scary 6.30, as he was not pitching as good as the results he was getting. Since transitioning to the bulk guy role coming in after the opener, his ERA is a bit higher at 4.74, but his FIP has improved to a much nicer 3.79. Over 38 innings, he is 4-0, striking out 44 against just 9 walks and 6 home runs, a pretty stark improvement from his numbers in the rotation.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Yesterday was a lot of fun, scoring 12 runs on 14 hits. I hope they can find a little more consistency out of the offense, but the occasional blowout is fun to watch too.

The more I watch Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez play LF and CF, the more confidence I have in them, which I never expected to happen. The fact that they’re hitting so well likely helps mask any defensive shortcomings they may have too. Teoscar is hitting .282/.349/.615 (151 wRC+) in 43 PA since being recalled, and Gurriel is hitting .329/.372/.684 (174 wRC+) in his 86 PA since being recalled.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting .346/.386/.558 (150 wRC+) in his last 57 PA as well. Couple that with Sogard (166 wRC+ in June) and the Jays have a pretty good top of the order right now.

The problem now falls to the three big guys who are not doing well. In June the trio of Rowdy Tellez (9 wRC+), Randal Grichuk (44 wRC+) and Justin Smoak (57 wRC+) are really dragging down the team.

Angels’ Lineup

Every word about the Angels’ lineup this decade and next begins with Mike Trout. Trout is in the middle of another typical Trout season, currently hitting .285/.455/.614 (180 wRC+). If the season ended today, that would be the lowest batting average of his career. However, he’s also sitting on his highest walk rate of his career, so that OBP is the second best he has ever posted.

Also of note from the Angels lineup is Shohei Ohtani, who wasn’t active the last time the Jays played the Angels. In 34 games since coming back from the Injured List, the DH only Ohtani is hitting .278/.351/.489 (126 wRC+), and even hit for the cycle last Thursday.

The aging wonder that is Albert Pujols is actually having his best season in a few years. His walk rate is currently up near 10%, the highest it has been since he left St. Louis and pitchers realized they don’t need to intentionally walk him anymore. He’s currently hitting .235/.311/.451 (102 wRC+) on the season, his lowest batting average ever, thanks to the lowest BABIP he has ever had. But he’s 39 and the second slowest player in baseball who gets shifted a lot, so he’s going to see a pretty bad BABIP regardless.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Matt Adams went 2-5 with a pair of home runs yesterday, knocking in 7 runs en route to his Monster Bat award. His offensive output helped the Nationals in their 15-5 drubbing of the Diamondbacks.

Greg Garcia was the ultimate deciding factor in the final game of a bloodbath of a series in Colorado, where the two teams combined for 92 runs in 4 games. Garcia hit a pair of pretty important triples, including a two run triple in the top of the 9th that tied the game and set him up to score the go ahead run. The triple was worth .386 WPA, and his WPA King total was .578. His Padres got the 14-13 win to split the series with the Rockies.

Trevor Bauer twirled a complete game shutout, making quick work of the hometown Tigers. He allowed just 4 hits while walking none, striking out 8 along the way. His offense gave him a bit of a boost too, and Cleveland won 8-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Peña and John Lackey.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs