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Game #95 Preview: Thornton vs Porcello

Blue Jays (35-59) vs Red Sox (50-43)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays continue their long road trip opening the second half of the season, heading to Boston for a 4 game set against the Red Sox. Today’s game gets underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Young righty Trent Thornton will make his 20th start of the season, hoping to be able to eclipse the 100 inning mark on the season in this one. Through his first 94.2 innings on the year, he is 3-6 with a 4.85 ERA, although his FIP is a bit nicer 4.41. His ability to strike out more than a batter per inning while relatively speaking doing a good job limiting home runs are both helping keep his FIP lower, but his escalated walk rate is definitely hurting him. I keep expecting the walk rate to improve, since it was so much better in the Minors, and maybe he is starting to come around, having walked just 4 in his last 18.1 innings.

Two of Thornton’s last four starts have come against the Red Sox, and I’m sure he’s getting tired of facing them. His first was a good one, allowing 2 runs in 6.1 innings, while the second was a really bad one where he allowed 7 runs in 2.2 innings. Add it all up and it comes to 9 innings of 9 runs on 19 hits, although just 2 walks and 1 home run with 8 strikeouts. Rafael Devers is the one who touched him up for the home run.

Red Sox Starter

The Red Sox will counter with former AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Porcello is having a rough go of it this season, currently sitting with a 6-7 record and a 5.33 ERA. His FIP of 4.53 certainly looks a lot better, thanks to Porcello’s ability to limit walks, but the strikeout ability that he found once coming over to the Red Sox has gone away, and despite the league wide uptick in strikeouts, his strikeout rate this year is lower than it ever has been with the Red Sox.

Porcello has made 2 starts against the Jays so far this year, both going 6 innings. In the first one, he dominated, holding the Jays to 1 run on 3 hits and no walks, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. touching him up for a home run. His second start didn’t go quite as nice, as he allowed 5 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks, striking out just 2. I’m hoping we see more of second start Porcello today.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

With the demotion of Rowdy Tellez and probable promotion of Billy McKinney, we’re likely to get a regular rotation of guys through the DH spot, which likely means a lot of Vladdy Jr in the DH spot, although he has been getting his share of work there already.

Having McKinney around should hopefully mean we see less outfield time for Eric Sogard and Brandon Drury. Speaking of Drury, he has actually looked pretty good in a super small sample of 23 July plate appearances, and the hope that he can be a useful bench piece is starting to re-emerge.

Red Sox Lineup

While the reigning champs are struggling in the win column this year, it isn’t their offense that is letting them down. They have scored 5.62 runs per game so far this year, which is currently sitting 3rd behind the 5.63 mark the Yankees have and the 5.68 that the surprising Twins have put up.

Andrew Benintendi (99 wRC+) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (90 wRC+) are the only regulars on the team with a wRC+ below the league average 100, which is a pretty impressive feat. However, their two biggest bats from last year have fallen quite a bit, and while still sitting at great levels of production, I’m sure Red Sox fans were hoping for more out of them. Reigning MVP Mookie Betts has a 124 wRC+, down significantly from the 185 he put up last year, although much closer to his career average of 133. Meanwhile, eternal slugger J.D. Martinez is at just a 130 wRC+, down from 170 last year and the lowest number he has put up since he left the Astros and became a feared slugger.

Yesterday’s Heroes

The much maligned Robinson Cano went 4-5 yesterday, hitting his 6th home run, a double and pair of singes to take home the Monster Bat award. The Mets were able to hold on and beat the Marlins 6-2.

Ramon Laureano had a game tying home run in the 7th inning before winning the game for the A’s with a walk off error in the 9th inning to take home the WPA King title. The home run added .232 WPA, while the “fielder’s choice and error” gave him .291 more, for a total of .478 on the day in the Athletics’ 3-2 win over the White Sox.

Canadian Mike Soroka held a potent Padres lineup down over 7 shutout innings. He allowed 6 hits and a walk, but used 9 strikeouts to keep them off the board and win the Pitcher of the Day honours. His Braves held on for the 4-1 win.

Find the Link

Find the link between Porcello and Max Scherzer.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs