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Game #104 Preview: Bieber vs Stroman

Cleveland (58-42) vs Blue Jays (39-64)

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

After a fun walk-off win last night, the Blue Jays will look to earn the series win tonight against the Clevelanders. The game is back on normal TV, and is set to start at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

In what will be his second to last start before the trade deadline (whether he makes them both as a Blue Jay remains to be seen), Marcus Stroman is set to head to the mound. I would doubt that teams are going to be trading for Stroman on a day he is supposed to pitch, thereby messing with his preparation and personal schedule, so I feel pretty confident in saying that Stroman will be making the start today. It also makes sense if the leading suitor is the Twins, who would be happy to watch Stroman take on Cleveland.

Stroman brings his 6-10 record with a 3.06 ERA into play today, looking to continue to improve those numbers against a team that he has historically done pretty well against. In 40 career innings against Cleveland, Stroman has a 3.15 ERA, holding their hitters to a .653 OPS. That was also on display earlier this season when, despite allowing 3 runs in 6 innings, he limited them to 6 hits and a walk while striking out 6.

Cleveland’s Starter

Cleveland will send out emerging frontline starter Shane Bieber. Bieber is now 9-3 with a 3.69 ERA, and an even better 3.29 FIP. Through a career high 124.2 innings (although he threw 194.1 innings across 3 levels last year), he has an amazing 11.29 K/9 versus just a 2.03 BB/9 rate. The home runs are hurting him a little bit, but he is still below league average on a per inning rate.

Bieber also pitched in the series back at the beginning of April when these two teams met. Just like every other starter that got to face the Jays then, Bieber had a good start. He allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings, striking out 9. Freddy Galvis hit a 2 run home run in the 5th to give the Jays’ their only runs in a 3-2 loss.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., after starting the game out of the lineup last night but getting in as a pinch hitter, will likely be back in the starting lineup tonight.

Eric Sogard has started back to back games at the DH spot, so I would expect that he’ll be out in the field somewhere.

Danny Jansen will return behind the plate after getting last night off.

Cleveland’s Lineup

Cleveland moved Oscar Mercado to the number 2 spot in their batting order on May 26, and he has absolutely been loving it there. He has hit .301/.350/.500 (120 wRC+), while taking over the full time CF gig for a since departed Leonys Martin. Since Mercado has emerged as the no.2 guy, Cleveland has gone 32-16, the second best record in all of baseball in that time frame.

With Mercado solidly in the second spot now, Cleveland is able to roll with a very strong top of the order consistently with Francisco Lindor, Mercado and Carlos Santana. Jason Kipnis as their cleanup hitter leaves a lot to be desired, as his 75 wRC+ and .125 ISO isn’t something you usually look for in a cleanup hitter. But there really isn’t much competition with Kipnis, with the exception of maybe Jose Ramirez, whose bat is maybe finally starting to wake back up.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Robinson Cano went 4-4 with 3 home runs and single, driving in all 5 of the Mets runs to earn the Monster Bat award. Cano’s antics drove the Mets to the 5-2 win over the Padres.

Despite Justin Smoak’s incredible WPA from yesterday, he was not the WPA King. The Yankees and Twins played an amazingly exciting game, ultimately ending up with the Yankees winning 14-12 in 10 innings. Three players in that game had a WPA over .500, with Didi Gregorius leading the way at .855. He went 5-5 with a home run and a walk, driving in 7 runs, including a go ahead run in the 8th, while also setting up the winning runs in the 10th with a double to put runners on second and third. Overall it was an incredibly exciting game, despite the Yankees winning.

Trevor Bauer gets the Pitcher of the Day honours, as he held the Jays scoreless over 7.2 innings, striking out 9 while allowing 3 hits and walking 3. But the Jays still won, so we’re all good.

Find the Link

Find the link between Bieber and Wilmer Flores.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs