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Game #108 Preview: Pannone vs Keller

Blue Jays (40-67) vs Royals (40-67)

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Blue Jays kick off the post-Stroman era with a 10 game road trip, starting with 3 games in Kansas City taking on the equally as terrible Royals. Today’s game gets underway at 8:15 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Left hander Thomas Pannone will make his 4th start of the season and 26th appearance overall. He has a 2-4 record with a 6.39 ERA, although he has pitched a fair bit better than his ERA indicates. His FIP is 4.99, which is just 8% higher than league average, as he has a 108 FIP-. He hasn’t done anything particularly well, as he is striking out batters at a pretty much league average rate (8.86 per 9 innings), while walking more than a batter per 9 innings more than average (4.53 per 9 innings). As a flyball pitcher, he’s bound to give up his share of home runs, and he’s doing that at pretty much a league average rate too (1.44 per 9 innings vs 1.39 for the league). That’s likely all Pannone will be as a starter, slightly worse than a league average starter, but that’s not so bad for a back end guy.

Royals’ Starter

The Royals will turn to 2018’s best Rule 5 performer Brad Keller. Selected with the 5th pick by the Reds from the Diamondbacks and traded to the Royals, Keller went 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 140.1 innings last season. His 3.55 FIP was 24th out of the 88 pitchers with at least 140 innings. This year has gone almost as well, as he’ll be making his 23rd start, and he is 7-9 with a 3.95 ERA. His FIP is a bit higher, but still better than league average at 4.31 over 132.1 innings.

Keller faced the Jays when the Royals were in Toronto at the end of June, and would love to put that start behind him. He allowed 6 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks over 5 innings, striking out just 3 and allowing a pair of home runs to Justin Smoak. The 6 earned runs allowed are the second most he has ever given up, topped only by the second to previous start from then against the Mariners. Considering the start in between those two was just 3 shutout innings, he may have been dealing with an injury, and has since thrown quite well - 4 earned runs over 27 July innings.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

BO BICHETTE!!!! Bo Bichette is expected to make his Major League debut today, and you’re not excited enough. This is a consensus top 10 prospect making his Major League debut, and it is a fabulous day. Put the immense heartache from yesterday behind us, and let’s focus on the excitement of today.

What this means for Freddy Galvis, I’m not 100% sure. It is expected that Bo will take most of the reps at SS, so the man that has started 99 of the team’s first 107 games at SS will likely find a lot of playing elsewhere, perhaps taking reps away from Brandon Drury at 3B and getting some starts at 2B. Chances are pretty good he’ll be traded by Wednesday’s trade deadline as well, as the strong super sub is something that most playoff teams would like to add.

Danny Jansen and Randal Grichuk were both on the bench yesterday, but I expect them to be back in the lineup today.

Royals’ Lineup

They kicked the crap out of Trevor Bauer yesterday, making him lose his mind, the ball over the CF fence, and any respect from Terry Francona that he may have had before, so well done Royals.

Overall, the Royals’ offense is a 4 horse show, with 4 regulars currently hitting well above league average in at least 350 PA. The combination of Hunter Dozier (134 wRC+) Whit Merrifield (119 wRC+), Jorge Soler (117 wRC+) and Alex Gordon (112 wRC+) have helped keep the Royals from the very bottom of the league in runs scored, averaging 4.35 per game - right in line with the Blue Jays.

Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi is also having a solid season, playing strong defense with excellent baserunning with an 85 wRC+. He is, however, currently on the Injured List with a shoulder problem and doesn’t seem likely to be back for this series.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Kyle Schwarber had a big game yesterday, going 3-3 with a pair of home runs, a single and bean ball. He scored all 4 times he was on base, and also drove in 7 runs en route to a clean Monster Bat award win in the Cubs 11-4 victory over the Brewers.

In a game where there 3 blown saves issued, the WPA King title goes to the man that forced the blowing of the 3rd one - Matt Olson. Olson tied the game up with 1 out in the 9th, putting the winning run in scoring position. That run did score, as the Athletics beat the Rangers 6-5. Olson, for his part, contributed a solid .537 WPA to his team’s efforts.

Stephen Strasburg, despite beaning 2 batters, gets the Pitcher of the Day honours. He threw 7 innings of 1 run ball, allowing just 2 hits and walking none while striking out 9. Both hits were doubles, and both came in the 5th inning which drove in the run. The Nationals poured on the offense, and even though the bullpen allowed 3 in the 9th, they still took down the Dodgers 11-4.

Find the Link

Find the link between Keller and Burch Smith.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs