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Game #111 Preview: Thornton vs Wojciechowksi

MLB: JUL 31 Blue Jays at Royals Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After sweeping the lowly Royals, the lowly Blue Jays will continue their 10 game road trip and head to Baltimore, where the lowly Orioles await to host a 4 game series. Game 1 gets underway tonight at 7:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays are expected to activate Trent Thornton from IL in this one, taking one of the several open roster spots. Thornton last pitched on July 20, so his stay on the 10 day IL wasn’t much longer than the minimum. He’ll head out to the mound making his 22nd start, looking to get back to what he was before the end of June. His last month before hitting the IL was absolute hell over 5 starts. Even with a 6 shutout inning gem against the Orioles in the middle, he still allowed 21 runs in 16.1 innings, striking out just 13 while walking 7 and surrendering 5 home runs. Before that stretch, he was looking like a respectable starter, sitting with a 4.25 ERA and a matching 4.26 FIP. But such are the kicks.

Thornton has faced the Orioles twice so far, and has come away with a great start and a pretty meh one. The great one was aforementioned 6 shutout innings, where he allowed just 3 hits, didn’t walk anyone and struck out 5. In the meh one, he made it through 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, walking 3 and striking out 4.

Orioles’ Starter doesn’t have a starter listed yet, but Fangraphs doesn’t see why it wouldn’t be Asher Wojciechowski. It is Woj’s turn in the order, and he did just finish throwing a really good 7 inning game against the Angels his last time out, and completely dominated the Red Sox carrying a no hitter into the 8th inning the time before that.

On the whole, the former Jays’ prospect is 2-3 with a 3.60 ERA, and a still good 3.92 FIP after 30 innings. This will be his 6th start and 7th appearance overall, after starting the year playing AAA ball in the Cleveland organization.

Woj made a start against the Jays back on July 7, and by game score it was his worst one, although it wasn’t actually very bad. He allowed 3 runs on 4 hits over 4.1 innings, striking out 6 and walking 3. He allowed a 2 run home run to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the first inning.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

They didn’t end up trading away anyone from their position player pool, but they did bring back a piece that likely ends up added to the group in Derek Fisher. If Gurriel doesn’t need to go on the IL, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fisher take McKinney’s spot on the roster as opposed to Fisher himself going to Buffalo. But I guess time will tell. However, if and when Fisher does make it into the ballgame, realize it wasn’t his doing that got him here, and please cheer him on.

Bo Bichette, fresh off a very impressive opening series, will look to build off that great start. He went 6-13 with a home run, double and a walk, striking out just once.

Elsewhere around the Jays’ lineup, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Danny Jansen should be back in the lineup after rest days yesterday.

Orioles’ Lineup

Chris Davis isn’t getting as much playing time as he did last year, and is doing marginally better, so we don’t have a “Chris Davis’ march to the bottom” watch this year. His -1.1 WAR isn’t even the low mark on the team, as Richie Martin Jr. has had an even rougher time this year and is currently at -1.3.

On the plus side, the combination of Trey Mancini, Jonathan Villar and Renato Nuñez are having a pretty good year. They are the top 3 in plate appearances for the team, combine for a 4.5 WAR, and are collectively hitting .266/.330/.484, good enough for a 112 wRC+.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez knocked 2 home runs and drew a walk, driving in 4 to earn the Monster Bat award. His offensive output helped Cleveland to the 10-4 win over the Astros.

Kyle Hendricks threw 7 shutout innings, with the first 5 being in a 0-0 game before his Cubs took the 1-0 lead for his final 2 innings. That helped him accrue a very impressive .461 WPA, enough for the WPA King title. The Cubs’ bullpen maintained the shutout, while they tacked on another run to beat the Cardinals 2-0.

But Hendricks does not get the Pitcher of the Day award, as he allowed 7 hits over his 7 shutout innings. Instead, the award goes to frequent Pitcher of the Day winner Jose Berrios. Berrios allowed just 2 hits while not walking anyone and striking out 11 over his 7 shutout innings. The Twins bullpen gave a bit back, but they still hung on for the 7-4 win over the Marlins.

Find the Link

Find the link between Wojciechowski and Orioles Minor Leaguer Jesmul Valentin

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs