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Game #117 Preview: Font (o) vs McKay

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Blue Jays (46-70) vs Rays (66-49)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays wrap up their grueling 10 games in 10 days road trip, trying to earn the win of the 3 game series against the Rays. Today is getaway day, so the gametime is an early one, set for 1:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays are going with an opener today, and that man is Wilmer Font. Font is one of the more experienced options for this role, having served it 5 times with the Rays last year and once so far for the Jays. That was actually his last appearance even, when he opened against Baltimore on August 2. He did pretty well too, making it through 2 innings facing just 1 over minimum thanks to a 1 out single in the first.

Following Font was originally speculated to be Sam Gaviglio, but he worked 3.1 innings last night. Righty Brock Stewart was originally supposed to be the long man last night, so I would guess that he’ll be the bulk guy today. If so, it’ll be the first appearance of his professional career outside the Dodgers’ organization. The once fairly well regarded prospect (he was a 45 FV as per Fangraphs as recently as 2017) has struggled in all 4 attempts at sticking in the Major Leagues as a Dodger, with a career spanning 84 innings and an ERA at 5.46 and FIP even higher at 5.71.

Rays’ Starter

The Rays will go with top prospect Brendan McKay, the two way player that isn’t playing the offensive side of the ball right now. From what I can tell, manager Kevin Cash wants him to focus on his pitching, and then move on to hitting at a later date. Which is fair, because I can’t imagine how hard it is for a 23 year old to come into the Majors and have so much to learn and focus on just from start to start, let alone trying to be a competent batter somehow.

This will be McKay’s 6th start of the season, and the first 5 have gone fairly well for the rookie. The young lefty is 2-1 with a 4.38 ERA over 24.2 innings, though his FIP is a much nicer 3.54. He has 25 strikeouts against just 2 walks, an incredible ratio. However, that may have led to a few too many pitches in the heart of the plate, as he has allowed 4 home runs in that timeframe as well.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Bo Bichette continues to do amazing things at the plate, last night picking up 2 more hits to run his hitting streak to 9, and also collected his 10th extra base hit in that span. He now has a multi-hit game in 4 straight, and 7 of 9 overall. I’m going to love watching this kid play for a long time.

I’m expecting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to be out of the lineup today, as he isn’t really playing every single day, and this is a day game after a night game before heading home. Given how he has been handled in the past (off days at terrible times while the team is at home), a day off today would show that the team is paying attention and sitting him while at home is rubbing the fans the wrong way.

Justin Smoak, who once again sat yesterday, must be dealing with some sort of injury. If he’s not and he’s just getting a few more days off to get Brandon Drury some more playing time, that could be an explanation too. But I’m guessing there’s an injury in there.

The Jays will likely roll with Reese McGuire and Derek Fisher in the afternoon game, despite it being a lefty on the mound. The rest on a getaway day game likely trumps the desire for the platoon advantage today, especially for McGuire in over Danny Jansen.

Rays’ Lineup

The Rays have tomorrow off, unlike the Jays, so they’re not as hard pressed to find some rest for their players. With both Font and Stewart being righties, they’ll load their lineup up with the lefties, meaning we’ll likely see Ji-Man Choi, Eric Sogard and Kevin Kiermaier back out there. Austin Meadows, who had another big day against the Jays yesterday, will likely also be out there too as the 4th lefty bat in the lineup.

Jesus Aguilar, who came over in a deadline deal from the Brewers, is unsurprisingly thriving with the Rays. He is 5-15 with a home run and 3 walks, striking out just once so far. As a player who put up a pretty huge season last year before falling apart this season, the Rays have once again bought low on a guy with some pretty big upside, just like they did with Tommy Pham last year, and will likely continue to do for the rest of eternity.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Nelson Cruz went 4-5 last night, launching 2 home runs and picking up a pair of singles to pick up the Monster Bat award. Those 2 home runs moved him past Mike Schmidt and into 10th place for the most home runs by a player 30+. However, they weren’t enough to help the Twins, as they were pummeled by the visiting Braves 12-7.

Kevin Kiermaier, who got the WPA credit for Buddy Boshers’ wild pitch to score the winning run, takes home the WPA King title from last night. Kiermaier was 3-5, collecting a pair of doubles along the way, including the one that started the 10th inning and was worth .174 WPA on its own. In total, his WPA on the night was .505.

Zack Wheeler spun 8 shutout frames last night, allowing 8 hits but just 1 walk while striking out 5, just enough all around to keep the Marlins off the board. The Mets won 5-0, running their winning streak to 5 games, and they have won 12 of their last 13 to get them solidly back in the playoff race.

Find the Link

Find the link between McKay and Anthony Santander.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs