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Game #134 Preview: Soroka vs Font (o)

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Braves (80-53) vs Blue Jays (53-80)

Toronto Blue Jays v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Blue Jays have returned home from a very rough road trip, ready to open a short 2 game set against the Braves. Tonight’s game will get underway at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays don’t have a starter officially listed for this one, but I am pretty sure Wilmer Font will be the opener tonight. His last opening assignment didn’t go so well, as he allowed a pair of runs on 2 hits and a walk, working just 1 inning for the first time as an opener for the Jays. That weakened his numbers as a Blue Jay to 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 2.70 FIP over 21.1 innings, still pretty great numbers considering the Jays are his 3rd attempt at sticking around the Majors this year.

Following Font I’m guessing will be Zack Godley for a few innings, as well as a few other relievers, as they are at least rested up a bit after Clay Buchholz went 6 innings on Sunday and there was an off day yesterday. Godley, for his efforts, has not been doing well since coming over from Arizona. I thought this would be a great under the radar move, but he’s looking more and more likely to be DFAd after the season is over. Through his first 10 innings with the Jays, he has allowed 7 runs on 11 hits, walking 5 and allowing a pair of home runs, all while striking out just 8. He still has a month to turn it around, but the Jays also have a lot of players they’re going to want to make room on the 40 man roster for.

Braves’ Starter

The Braves will counter with Calgary native Mike Soroka, making his second career start on Canadian soil, despite playing in a different league than the Jays and still technically retaining rookie status. He is even making a run for rookie of the year, although the field in the National League is probably too overwhelming for him to get a shot. But his 10-2 record with a 2.41 ERA over 141.2 innings is a very shiny combination that will grab some voters attention away from the probable 50 home run season of Pete Alonso.

Soroka’s other start against the Jays came last June in Toronto, where the Jays touched him up for 4 runs on 8 hits over 4.2 innings. The Blue Jays hit 6 doubles off him in that game, including 3 by current Blue Jays Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez and Justin Smoak. I would imagine there’s a good chance all 3 are out there against the righty today as well. But luckily for Soroka in that one, the Jays’ pitchers were much worse and his Braves still won 11-4.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Billy McKinney and Brandon Drury have been in a bit of a platoon the last little while, with McKinney drawing the starts against righties. If the Jays aren’t going to go with both Justin Smoak and Rowdy Tellez at 1B/DH, then we could see McKinney in the lineup with an outfielder headed to the DH spot.

Cavan Biggio’s 2 month long struggle is likely to manifest in a day off at some point, which would mean Drury getting the start at second, but I don’t really expect that to happen in this series.

Danny Jansen is likely to see an uptick in playing time again now that the Jays aren’t in Seattle, where Reese McGuire was given an opportunity to play in front of his hometown fans.

Braves’ Lineup

Former Blue Jays’ MVP Josh Donaldson makes his return to Toronto, and it appears the Bringer of Rain has brought a rainy forecast along with his hot bat, so don’t forget your umbrellas today. Since June 11, he is hitting .285/.394/.634 (157 wRC+) and is tied with Mike Trout for the most home runs at 24. His WAR on the season is now up to 4.0, as he really is having a great season to rebuild some of the value that injuries sapped from him the last couple seasons.

Elsewhere around the Braves lineup, Ronald Acuña Jr. is breaking out and showing that he is one of the best players in the non-Mike Trout class of MLB. He is making a spirited push for the first 40-40 season in the Majors since Alfonso Soriano in 2006. He currently has 36 home runs and 31 steals with 29 games left to go. This will be an exciting finish for him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 21 year old push for inclusion in that club a few more times over the next several years.

Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte and Austin Riley are all missing from the active roster with various injuries, meaning that the Braves have had to get creative with the outfield they put around Acuña. Riley will likely be back soon, but likely not for this series, while Markakis and especially Enciarte are a little further out. So in place of those 2, we’ll likely see Matt Joyce and Rafael Ortega today and tomorrow with righties expecting to pitch for the Jays. Billy Hamilton and his racing slicks are waiting on the bench to pinch run and be a defensive replacement.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Mike Ford went 2-4 with a pair of home runs, driving in 3 to pick up the Monster Bat award. The Yankees needed every bit of output they got from him, as they hung on to beat the Mariners 5-4.

Corey Dickerson hit a big go ahead home run in the bottom of the 8th, and also picked up a pretty big walk in the 10th (but didn’t score), before Sean Rodriguez finished things off with a home run in the 11th. But it was Dickerson who accumulated the most WPA to get the WPA King trophy, contributing .654 WPA to the Phillies’ cause as they took down they took the Pirates 6-5 in 11 innings.

Julio Teheran made it through 6 shutout innings, limiting the Rockies to just 3 hits and 3 walks before giving way to the bullpen. But the Braves’ bullpen was not up to the task, and the offense fell pretty silent as the Rockies won 3-1 on a walkoff home run by Ryan McMahon. But Teheran still gets credit for the Pitcher of the Day, so I’m sure he’s doing fine.

Find the Link

Find the link between Soroka and the player Alex Anthopoulos tried to sign by asking his veterans to defer their salary.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs