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Game #129 Preview: Font (o) vs Buehler

Blue Jays (52-76) vs Dodgers (83-44)

MLB: AUG 20 Blue Jays at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Blue Jays will try to shake off a very rough first day in Los Angeles for the pitching staff, and try to take game 2 of this 3 game series against the Dodgers. The game is once again a late one, set to get underway at 10:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays will kick things off with an opener, although Charlie Montoyo said he was cautioning against calling it that since this is more of a Johnny Wholestaff day as opposed to the traditional opener followed by a bulk guy situation. In any sense, I hope the second pitcher can get more than 1.2 innings today.

The opener is set to be Wilmer Font, who will be making his 9th opening assignment of the season and 35th appearance overall, and his 6th opening and 10th appearance as a Blue Jay. He hasn’t appeared out of the bullpen since July 30, instead solely being used as an opener for what will be his 6th consecutive appearance. He last pitched on Sunday, so he is getting used a little more frequently than a normal starter on normal rest, as he’s throwing pretty much just 2 innings every time, just like he did on Sunday when he allowed his first run as an opener. In 10.1 innings now as an opener, he has allowed just 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 15.

Following Font will be a few different relievers, likely to include someone making the trip from AAA. The Jays used 5 relievers and Richard Ureña after Sean Reid-Foley exited the game, but both Zack Godley and Sam Gaviglio didn’t pitch, and those two will be the guys expected to get the most outs tonight. If they can get 2 innings from Font, then 3 from Godley and Gaviglio and somehow get to Ken Giles for a save, that would be a perfect day for this pitching staff.

Dodgers’ Starter

The Dodgers will go with a traditional starter in this one, sending out young star Walker Buehler to make his career high 24th start. He made 23 starts and a relief appearance last year, throwing 137.1 innings, a mark he surpassed in his last start, although he did have 4 other Minor League appearances last year too. Overall on the season, Buehler is 10-3 with a 3.31 ERA, and while his ERA is up nearly 0.7 runs, his FIP has actually improved. Last year it was an excellent 3.04, while this year he has shaved a little off it, dropping it down to 2.99 despite the higher run scoring environment.

The 25 year old righty features a deadly fastball-slider-cutter combo that accounts for pretty much 7 out of every 8 pitches thrown and helps to drive an excellent 10.57 K/9 rate. He also commands it exceptionally well for his age, and is able to limit walks to just a 1.66 per 9 inning rate. His other two pitches that he throws, the curveball and changeup, don’t quite rate as well as the other three pitches, but they do well enough to keep hitters off balance and has prevented him from any bad splits. If anything, righties have had a little more luck off Buehler.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sure were fun to watch against Clayton Kershaw last night, although aside from a home run by Derek Fisher and a Justin Smoak double, the rest of the offense was pretty lethargic. But Bo and Vladdy getting on base 5 times including a couple of Bo jacks against one of the best pitchers of the century is pretty cool, and something I’m sure they’ll remember for a while.

I would imagine Rowdy Tellez will get the start at 1B today after Smoak got the start yesterday against the lefty. Probably the same for Reese McGuire behind the plate too.

Dodgers’ Lineup

They showed how deep they are last night, as every starter got at least 1 hit, and batting order positions 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 all drove in multiple runs.

Chris Taylor, freshly back from the Injured List after missing more than a month, got the start in LF yesterday and proceeded to go 3-4 with a home run and 4 RBI. Not that the Dodgers needed him, but I’m sure they’re happy to have him back.

Old friend Russell Martin got into the game as a pinch hitter and stuck around to play 3B last night. His transition from potential Hall of Fame catcher to super utility guy in his mid 30s has been fun to watch. I hope the Jays can watch him pitch this week too.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Anthony Rizzo went 3-3 with a pair of home runs and a walk, earning the Monster Bat award. The Cubs rode his bat to a 5-3 win over the Giants.

Stephen Strasburg worked 7 shutout innings, holding the Pirates down in what was a scoreless then 1-0 lead for the Nationals. That allowed him to build up the WPA, as he gets the WPA King title with a .469 mark. But much like Nate Pearson in Buffalo, once Strasburg was out of the game, the bullpen turned a 1-0 advantage into a 4-1 deficit, which is what the Nationals ultimately lost by.

Pitcher of the Day is not Strasburg though, as Andrew Heaney threw 8 great innings of his own, holding the Rangers to just 1 run while striking out a very impressive 14 and walking none. The Angels won that game 5-1, but lost the other half of the double header in extra innings 3-2.

Find the Link

Find the link between Buehler and the best College pitcher of 2015.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs