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Game #128 Preview: Reid-Foley vs Kershaw

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Blue Jays (52-75) vs Dodgers (82-44)

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

The Blue Jays hit the road for a pair of west coast series, with the first kicking off today in Los Angeles as they take on the Dodgers. Tonight’s game is a late one, so get that after work nap in and be ready for the 10:10 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays are expected to start Sean Reid-Foley today, after there was some discussion about using an opener. Reid-Foley will be making his 7th start and 9th overall, and has come up with some promising results so far. Through 30 innings, he is 2-3 with a 3.00 ERA, so far allowing just 3 home runs. That’s about where the good numbers for him end though, as his strikeout numbers are nowhere near his lofty Minor League levels, and the walk rate is out of control, as he has issued 19 free passes plus 2 bean balls in his 30 innings. All of that adds up to an FIP of 4.88, and xFIP thinks he is lucky to have that thanks to a low HR/FB rate; if he had a regular HR/FB rate, it would be 6.18.

Dodgers’ Starter

The Dodgers will kick off the series by sending future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw to the mound. The former “best pitcher in baseball” is still doing quite well, probably even hanging out in the top 10 of that list, but isn’t quite the overwhelmingly dominant force he once was when he averaged about 7.5 WAR from 2011-2015. Injuries have been his biggest culprit, as his high since that 2015 season is 175 innings in 27 starts in 2017. He has also now had 3 straight seasons of FIPs in the low 3.00s after 3 straight years of sub-2.00 levels.

But none of that is to say that Kershaw is having a bad season, as he is indeed having yet another great year. He is currently 12-2 with a 2.63 ERA over 21 starts and 137 innings. He has 9.26 strikeouts per 9 innings, while allowing walks at just a 1.84 per 9 inning rate. He is allowing home runs at just under 1 per 9 innings, all adding up to a worst-since-his-rookie-season 3.22 FIP. His FIP- of 73 is pretty close to his career average of 67, and better than a few other of his seasons, while his ERA- of 62 is right on his career mark.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

If we’re hoping for good news, we can expect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to be back in the lineup and ready to go for this one. If we’re expecting typical Blue Jays’ news, he will be out of the lineup for a few more days before “re-evaluation”. So I’m hoping for some Vladdy action tonight, and I’d love to see him bat against Kershaw.

Since we’re in a National League park, we have to play by their archaic rules, which means no designated hitter. That means SRF has to bat. That means only 3 outfielders and one of Justin Smoak and Rowdy Tellez are playing. I would guess that it will be Smoak and Billy McKinney on the bench.

Dodgers’ Lineup

They’re one of the best offenses in baseball, certainly the best in the NL. They’re averaging 5.50 runs per game, which is 4th behind the Yankees, Twins and Red Sox. Their 112 wRC+ is also 4th, behind the Astros, Yankees and Twins. They’re also 3rd in home runs, currently sitting at 218, behind the Yankees and Twins.

The breakdown of the Dodgers’ offense begins with MVP co-front runner Cody Bellinger. Every first place vote in the NL MVP race will go to either Cody Bellinger or defending champ Christian Yelich, as there is a long gap between those two and anyone else. Bellinger is currently hitting .317/.415/.671 (172 wRC+, just short of Yelich’s 176) with 42 home runs and 10 stolen bases. He has 98 runs and 97 RBI, and I very much expect him to reach 100 in both of those categories in this series. He has also kicked in 20 DRS in the outfield just because he’s that good.

Behind Bellinger, Max Muncy and Justin Turner round out the heart of the order as the other two regulars with a wRC+ over 130. Enrique Hernandez, who is currently on the IL, is the only one with at least 250 plate appearances for the Dodgers and a sub-100 wRC+, and it’s at 93. So while the heart is super powerful, there isn’t really a soft spot in the lineup either, save for the pitcher’s spot.

Joining Hernandez on the Injured List are backups Chris Taylor, Tyler White, Alex Verdugo and David Freese. Shortstop Corey Seager spent a month on the IL earlier in the season, but he’s back and healthy now.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Tom Murphy went 3-3 with a pair of home runs and a walk last night, driving in 4 to pick up the Monster Bat award. The catcher’s bat helped his Mariners triple up the hometown Rays 9-3.

Dakota Hudson threw 6.2 no-hit innings last night, although he did walk 4, but he struck out 7. He was lifted in the 7th after walking Eric Thames on his 111th pitch, but that was still enough for the Pitcher of the Day honours. The no-hitter was broken up with 2 outs in the 8th, but the Cardinals held on for the 3-0 win over the Brewers. And since it was so close, Hudson gets the WPA King award as well, putting up a .357 mark on a slow night.

Shoutout to Blue Jays’ prospect T.J. Zeuch who threw a complete game no-hitter last night, who can have the not made up on the spot Minor League Pitcher of Day award.

Find the Link

Find the link between Kershaw and Corey Dickerson.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs

Random survey question:

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