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Game #81 Preview: Thornton vs Paxton

Blue Jays (29-51) vs Yankees (51-28)

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Welcome to the midpoint of the season, where things don’t really change, especially for the Blue Jays. The Jays wrap up their 3 game set in the Bronx, once again looking to avoid a sweep, this time against the Yankees. Today’s game is an earlier one, set for 1:05 ET, because the Yankees are headed to London after the game for a 2 game set against the Red Sox.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will go with 2019 bright spot Trent Thornton. Thornton is 2-5 through his first 16 starts, sitting on a 4.25 ERA and a 4.22 FIP. He continues to do well on the strikeout front, consistently keeping it above the one per inning mark. His home run rate is comfortably better than league average. He is also coming off a start against the Red Sox in which he walked just 1 batter, a nice change after he walked 3 batters each of the previous 5 starts. His walk rate is still well above average, and well above anything he put up in the Minors, so if there is any obvious area that Thornton could improve his game going forward, that’s it.

Thornton faced the Yankees earlier this month, and he had one of his uglier starts of his young career. It wasn’t quite the fireworks show of his starts against the Twins or the Rays, but he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits over 5 innings, walking 3 and striking out just 4. He allowed a home run to Gary Sanchez in this one as well, but luckily for Thornton and the Jays, that was the game that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. touched up Zack Britton for the monster 3-run home run on a sinker below the zone.

Yankees’ Starter

The Yankees will go with Big Maple James Paxton, the left handed Canadian from Ladner, British Columbia. Paxton isn’t quite enjoying his time in New York as much as Yankee fans were hoping, as he is just 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA over 12 starts, missing nearly 4 weeks in May with knee inflammation. The good news for Paxton is that his FIP is right on his career mark of 3.13, and his velocity is also right on his career average as well, which is encouraging for the 30 year old.

Paxton faced off against Thornton and the Jays back on June 5, and his start wasn’t very good either. He allowed 4 runs (3 earned) over just 4.2 innings in his second start back from the IL. He allowed 4 hits and walked 3, striking out just 4. Randal Grichuk touched him up for a 1st inning home run.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Teoscar Hernandez was back in the lineup after missing time with his wrist injury, and while he looked alright in the outfield, he struck out in each of his 4 plate appearances. I would have been quite alright if he was in the last few days of his IL trip, itching to get back in the lineup instead of pushing it when he’s not quite ready.

Cavan Biggio laced his first career extra base hit against a lefty in yesterday’s game, so him getting back into the lineup against the lefty should be pretty likely.

Billy McKinney, despite short career numbers suggesting he can’t hit lefties, has made just 2 starts since being recalled, both against lefties. In fact, 7 of his 11 plate appearances since being recalled have been against lefties, and he has unsurprisingly gone 0-6 with 5 strikeouts and a beanball. So look for McKinney to be in the lineup today.

Yankees’ Lineup

With the big trip ahead of them after the game today, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees try to use some of their backups in this one, although with a 3 man bench and a potential Giancarlo Stanton injury, they maybe don’t have that luxury. I would imagine Stanton will be the one out of the lineup in the outfield, while I would guess it is Gleyber Torres who will be on the bench in the infield.

Austin Romine will most likely make the start, simply due to the day game after the night game.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Rafael Devers went 4-4 yesterday, ripping a trio of doubles to earn the Monster Bat award. His bat helped the Red Sox take their second consecutive game against the White Sox by a score of 6-3.

Anthony Swarzak entered the game in the bottom of the 8th inning yesterday with his Braves up 3-2 with runners on 1st and 2nd and none out. He quickly induced a double play on the first pitch to Kris Bryant before getting Anthony Rizzo to strike out on 6 pitches. The two at bats were worth .377 WPA, enough for Swarzak to earn the WPA King title in the Braves 3-2 win over the Cubs.

Max Scherzer did regular Max Scherzer things, striking out 10 batters over 8 innings, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and no walks. He did bean a guy, though that isn’t enough to prevent him from getting the Pitcher of the Day award in the Nationals 6-1 win over the Marlins.

Find the Link

Find the link between Paxton and permanent Injured List resident Dalton Pompey :(

Also note that I will be away for a couple weeks on vacation, so I will not be able to get the preview posts up. They will resume as normal after the All Star Break.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs