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Game #121 Preview: Tanaka vs Thornton

Yankees (76-41) vs Blue Jays (49-71)

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays wrap up their 4 game series against the Yankees this afternoon, looking win their 3rd game in this series. The game gets underway at 1:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Rotation stalwart Trent Thornton makes his 24th start of the season, and his third since spending a couple weeks on the Injured List with an inflamed elbow. On the whole, he is 5-7 with a 5.55 ERA. He has really struggled against the 3 good AL East teams, which doesn’t bode well for this game. In 30 innings against those 3 clubs, all pretty much equally sharing in the whooping, he has allowed 37 runs on 59 hits, with 26 strikeouts against 16 walks, while surrendering 11 home runs. Batters have hit .396/.452/.698 in 166 PA against him in those games.

Yankees’ Starter

Masahiro Tanaka will also make his 24th start of the season. He is having a little better season, as he is currently 7-6 with a 4.93 ERA, although definitely nowhere near what the Yankees are hoping to get from him. Tanaka’s biggest struggle this year is the increase in his usually stellar walk rate, which is now up to a still pretty good 2.36 per 9 innings (6.2% of all batters), but easily his career high. His strikeout rate is trending in an opposite direction, just short of a career low at 7.63 per 9 innings, although the overall percentage is a career low 19.9%. The last couple years his strikeout rate was over 9 per 9 innings, and over 25%.

Tanaka has faced the Jays twice this year, and both times he went 6 innings. In his start in New York, he allowed just 2 runs on 4 hits, giving up solo home runs to Eric Sogard and Randal Grichuk just over a month ago. In his start in Toronto, he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits, giving up home runs to Freddy Galvis and Randal Grichuk.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

No Vladimir Guerrero Jr. because... he needs a day off? Not that it’s one of the most expensive home game of the year, and fans are paying good money to see their stars or anything.

Reese McGuire is back behind the plate, as the team is ramping up his playing time. He’s closing in on a 50/50 playing time split with Danny Jansen.

Billy McKinney is supposed to be in the clubhouse too, so look for an update on that related move (I’m expecting Ken Giles)

Yankees’ Lineup

Gleyber Torres is actually in the lineup today, so I guess his core issue is finally improving.

Gary Sanchez gets the day at the DH spot after catching yesterday on his return from the IL.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Two rookies hit 3 home runs last night - Yordan Alvarez and Aristides Aquino. However, Alvarez did it against the Orioles, including one off a super slow pitch from a position player in a 23-2 win, so by virtue of doing it against a harder opponent, Aquino gets the Monster Bat award. Aquino also picked up a walk in the Reds 10-1 win over the Cubs.

Juan Soto only hit 2 home runs yesterday, and he didn’t even lead his Nationals to the win over the Mets, but he still did more than enough to win the WPA King title. He started the game off with a 2 run home run in the top of the 1st (.196 WPA), then broke a 2-2 tie in the 8th inning with his second home run (.312 WPA). With the rest of the game considered, his total WPA for the day was .516, but the Mets still came back and won 4-3, because that’s what they do these days.

Jeff Samardzija allowed a 2 out solo home run in the top of the 1st, then didn’t allow another Phillie to reach base until 1 out in the 8th inning. In total he allowed 1 run on 2 hits over 8 innings, walking none and striking out 5 en route to his Pitcher of the Day award. His Giants won the game 3-1 over the Phillies.

Find the Link

Find the link between Tanaka and Jays’ prospect Jon Harris.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs