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Game #138 Preview: Verlander vs Font (o)

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Astros (88-49) vs Blue Jays (55-82)

Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Welcome to September baseball! The time of year when rosters expand and we get see more of the guys that spent the season in the Minors. However, today isn’t the start of that day, as only Beau Taylor and Ryan Tepera are expected to be added to the active roster before this game. But we’ll see if they can help the Blue Jays win the series against the Astros. The game is set to start at 1:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will kick this one off will Wilmer Font working as an opener for the first inning or two. Font has been pretty fantastic for the Jays in this role, now making his 9th opening assignment. Through the first 8, he pitched 15.1 innings, allowing just 3 runs on 10 hits and 5 walks, striking out 24.

Following Font will likely be Zack Godley, who worked as the bulk guy the last time Font opened as well. He earned his first win as a Blue Jay in that one, throwing 3 shutout innings on just 2 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. It was an encouraging outing for the 29 year old, who previously looked like a pretty solid starting pitcher, but has since seen his strikeout ability disappear while his command has started to leave him. I’m sure the Jays were hoping he could re-discover that upside, but even with that last scoreless outing, he’s still a long ways off.

Astros’ Starter

The Astros will send their Ace to the mound in this one, as Justin Verlander makes his league leading 29th start of the season. Verlander is also currently the league leader in ERA at 2.69, innings at 184, WHIP at 0.804, and ERA+ at 167. He is also 3rd in home runs allowed at 33, accounting for 40 of the 57 runs he has allowed this year. So if you’re going to score off him, it’ll take a home run to do it, and the Jays at least know that strategy.

Verlander also just ended a streak of 7 straight games with double digit strikeouts, a strategy the Jays batters are also used to. Verlander now has 243 strikeouts, the 9th time in his career he has eclipsed 200, and he’ll make a spirited push for his career high 290, if not for the coveted 300 mark. He’s likely to have 6 starts left including this one, and with only 57 strikeouts to go to get to 300, he doesn’t even need to average 10 per game. So it’ll be a close fight to get there, and I would imagine he gets a good start on that this afternoon.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Astros’ Lineup

Yuli Gurriel has been scratched due to an elbow problem, so this is the new lineup.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Mitch Garver went 2-3 with a pair of home runs and a pair of walks to earn the Monster Bat award. His strong offensive output wasn’t enough to win the game though, as the Tigers beat the Twins 10-7. The home runs did help the Twins take over the all-time team home run lead, which is now theirs to really expand with still a month to go.

For the second day in a row, our WPA King comes from a losing squad, as Anthony Santander takes home the award this time. He hit a game tying solo home run in the top of the 4th to make it 1-1. The next time he came up, he hit a go ahead 3 run home run in the top of the 5th, making it 5-4. But the Royals would get the last laugh and win 7-5 since Santander’s Orioles are the 2019 Orioles. So despite Santander’s .406 WPA, he still went home sad.

Even though it was just against the lowly Marlins, Stephen Strasburg turned in one of the best pitching performances of 2019. He worked through 8 shutout innings, allowing just a pair of singles (one of which was erased on a double play), while striking out 14 on his way to the Pitcher of the Day award. The Nationals won that game 7-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Verlander and Denny McLain

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs