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Game #131 Preview: Thornton vs Sheffield

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Blue Jays (52-78) vs Mariners (54-74)

Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their West Coast road trip, heading to Seattle to take on the Mariners where thousands of Jays fans are ready and waiting to take over T-Mobile Park. The game is set for a 10:10 ET start, 7:10 local time for those of you that are planning to be in attendance.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will send Trent Thornton out to the mound making his team leading 26th start. After 120.2 innings, Thornton is 4-8 with a 5.30 ERA, and a bit better FIP, currently sitting at 4.83. He will likely surpass the number of innings he threw in AAA last year, but I would imagine he should be able to make most of his starts down the stretch without concern for his innings count.

He has been fun to watch this year with his funky delivery, big curveball and occasional ability to dominate a game. Obviously as a rookie he’s also had some dumpster fire games, but with experience hopefully comes consistency in strong performances. But the 113 strikeouts in 120.2 innings has been nice to see for the rookie, and going forward there are two areas where he can obviously improve on by trending them closer to his Minor League numbers - getting the ball on the ground more, and reducing the walk rate.

Thornton faced the Mariners in his last outing last weekend, and walked away with a quality start, despite struggling with his command. He made it through 6 innings while allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 and walking a troublesome 4. He also allowed a home run, a leadoff shot in the 5th inning to Austin Nola.

Mariners’ Starter

The Mariners are recalling 23 year old prospect Justus Sheffield to make the start this evening. Sheffield, acquired from the Yankees in the trade that sent James Paxton the other way, made one appearance for the Mariners back in April, but has otherwise spent the season split between AA and AAA. In his appearance back in April, he worked 3 innings, striking out 3 and walking 4 while allowing a pair of runs.

Sheffield is currently ranked as the Mariner’s 7th best prospect from Fangraphs, sitting just outside of the Top 100 overall. The lefty carries what are considered to be 3 plus pitches in a fastball, slider and changeup, with the fastball sitting in the low-mid 90s and the changeup not having much separation sitting at 89-90. The slider is a slower one, coming in at about 85.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a very memorable trip to Los Angeles, going 5-7 with a home run and 3 walks. His last hit leading off the 9th last night was the 100th of his career. He looks to be healthy after a bit of a scare last weekend against these same Mariners, but he should be good to at least start 2 of the 3 games this weekend in front of the Jays’ western fans.

Reese McGuire, a native of the Seattle area, has been promised by Charlie Montoyo that he will be making a pair of starts this weekend. I would imagine one of those will be tonight, as he has caught Thornton his last couple times out as well.

Richard Ureña, who was brought up to be an extra position player for the Dodgers’ series and came in as a pitcher in his first game, is likely to be sent back down before the start of this series. It seems like Brock Stewart is the pitcher coming the other way, as the Jays look to load up the bullpen in preparation of a couple starterless games this weekend.

Mariners’ Lineup

Since we last saw them on Sunday, the Mariners have added center fielder Jake Fraley to the roster. Fraley, who came over to the Mariners as a piece in the Mallex Smith/Mike Zunino trade, made his Major League debut on Wednesday, scoring a run after being beaned, but otherwise failed to reach base. Fraley is touted as a solid fielder with a likely below average bat from the left side. He’ll get most of the starts against righties while Keon Broxton goes against lefties.

Thornton is likely to face 7 lefties today, as the Mariners lineup is traditionally lefty heavy. The only righties will likely be Austin Nola and Tim Lopes, which makes me wish the Jays were bringing up Kirby Snead instead of Brock Stewart, but Snead isn’t on the 40 man roster yet, so I get it.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Gleyber Torres went 4-4, hitting a pair of home runs and a double, and picking up the Monster Bat award. It was his 8th multi-homer game of the year, tying him with other ho-hum seasons in Yankees history such as 1927 Babe Ruth, 1961 Mickey Mantle and 2007 Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod’s 9.6 WAR is the low of the 3). Of course, those 3 didn’t get to face the 2019 Orioles, so maybe it’s not a fair comparison. Anyway, Torres had a big day, but the Athletics still got the last laugh as the completed the sweep with the 5-3 win.

Kyle Hendricks fired 7 shutout innings in what was a 1-0 win for the Cubs, so naturally that means he accumulated a lot of WPA, .452 to be precise. That is enough for him to be the WPA King in the Cubs win over the Giants.

Despite the less than full slate of games last night, there were 4 pitchers who threw 7 innings with 0 earned runs. Their opponents were the Giants, Dodgers, Tigers and Braves. The Dodgers are the cream of the offensive crop here, so that means that Jacob Waguespack gets the Pitcher of the Day award with his great start last night. He allowed just the 1 hit and a walk, striking out 5, but obviously the Jays still lost 3-2.

Find the Link

Find the link between Sheffield and Drew Pomeranz.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs