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Game #126 Preview: McClain vs Thornton

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Mariners (50-73) vs Blue Jays (52-73)

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

After another fun win last night, their 12th in the last 18 games, the Blue Jays will look to take game 2 against the Mariners this afternoon. Gametime is set for 3:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will send seasoned rookie Trent Thornton to the mound this afternoon. He leads the team in games started, today making his 25th of the season. Through his first 114.2 innings, Thornton is 4-8 with a 5.34 ERA, but with a better looking 4.76 FIP. His two biggest differences this year compared to his Minor League career are his walk rate, which he had an incredible 1.71 per 9 innings throughout his 78 career Minor League starts but is now up to 3.69 in the Majors, and his groundball rate, currently sitting at 30.3% this year, after averaging in the low 40s on his way up through the Minors.

Thornton dominated the Yankees his last time out, although he was hung with a loss in the 1-0 defeat. He made it through 6 innings, surrendering the 1 run on 3 hits and a walk, striking out 6. It was his second 1 run over 6 innings start in his last 3, with a shellacking at the hands of the Rays sandwiched in between. But the good news in all of that is that he has allowed just 2 walks in his last 15.2 innings since coming back from the IL, so maybe he’s starting to figure that part out.

Mariners’ Starter

The Mariners are likely to go with 26 year old rookie Reggie McClain, making his first career start after 3 relief appearances. McClain started the year pitching in High-A, before earning a couple promotions and being added to the Major League roster a couple weeks ago. He has thrown a total of 6 innings at the Major League level, and I would think that if everything went well for him there is no way he gets more than 4 today. Even when he was starting a few games at the start of the year, he never got beyond 4 innings. So expect a few relievers today, which is probably why they rode Wade LeBlanc all the way to the end last night.

So far in his brief Major League career, McClain has relied predominantly on his 94 mph fastball (81.5%), while sometimes mixing in a slider at 84 and ever so occasionally (he’s thrown 2) he has shown an 87 mph changeup.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Both Rowdy Tellez and Billy McKinney were on the bench last night, but I would imagine they’ll be out there today. Justin Smoak is likely one of the ones on the bench, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Derek Fisher be the other one, although I don’t really agree with it.

Reese McGuire caught Thornton his last time out, and given the success that Thornton had, I would imagine that McGuire gets his turn behind the plate in this one too.

Mariners’ Lineup

Dee Gordon showed off his wheels yesterday on his triple, and I’ll admit, that was fun to watch. I love watching guys with his speed put it on display. Mallex Smith is another with great speed that can put on a great show. It’s too bad both are hitting around 80 wRC+ this year, reducing their ability to show it off.

Look for Keon Broxton to be back in the lineup today, playing CF and batting 9th. That’ll push Smith back over to RF.

Domingo Santana hasn’t started in a couple days, but I would expect him to be back in the lineup today. His bat, currently hitting .259/.335/.453 (112 wRC+), is a big part of this lineup.

Yesterday’s Heroes

We have a pretty easy selection for Monster Bat today, as the grandson of one of the greatest outfielders ever put on a show last night, continuing the rookie onslaught that we’ve seen recently:

Mike Yastrzemski’s 3 home runs were just half of the Giants’ 6, as former Jay Kevin Pillar hit out 2 and Brandon Belt hit the other one. But it was Yastrzemski’s 3rd that put the Giants on top in the 11th inning, giving them the 10-9 win over the Diamondbacks.

But that wasn’t enough for WPA King, as that award goes to a player on the losing side. Nick Ahmed was the reason the game made it to the 11th inning, as he hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the 10th, negating the one that Pillar hit in the top half of the inning. But Ahmed had a couple other big plays, including a bases loaded walk earlier, that propels him to the WPA King total of .611, better than Yas’ .522 and Pillar’s .509.

Second place in the WPA King race actually went to Jon Gray, who put up a .549 WPA en route to his Pitcher of the Day win. He threw 8 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits and nothing else while striking out 7. His Rockies held on to beat the visiting Marlins 3-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between McClain and a baseball player named David Lowe but does not go by David Lowe.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs