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Game #148 Preview: Tanaka vs Kay

Yankees (97-51) vs Blue Jays (57-90)

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

After failing to secure the sweep against Boston last night, the Blue Jays will move on to their next opponent on their homestand as the division leading Yankees come to town. Get to the ballpark early tonight, as the Friday the 13th festivities kick off with a weird zombie bobblehead giveaway before the 7:07 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Rookie lefty Anthony Kay will make his second career start, and first at his new home at the Rogers Centre. Kay seemed excited to be joining the Jays’ organization when he did, trying to learn everything he could about Canada, so now he gets to experience it for the first time as a starting pitcher for the Blue Jays.

In Kay’s first start, he worked 5.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks, plus a beaned batter, while matching Trent Thornton’s record for strikeouts in a debut with 8. The 4 free base runners is a continuation of a concerning trend for him that was also present in Buffalo, as he issued 22 walks and beaned 2 batters in 36 innings. If he is going to have success going forward, he cannot be giving away free base runners at a 6 per 9 inning rate.

Yankees’ Starter

The Blue Jays will get another look at Masahiro Tanaka this evening, making his 30th start of the season. He is 10-8 with a 4.53 ERA, coupled with a very similar 4.35 FIP. The big difference for him this year compared to years previous is his ability to get the punchouts. For the first 5 years of his career, he was able to strikeout about 9 batters per 9 innings. This season, he is down to just over 7 per 9 innings, seeing fewer whiffs overall thanks to mildly diminished stuff across the board. Not enough to warrant change, but something worth monitoring going forward.

Tanaka has made 3 starts against the Jays already this year, with 1 in New York and 2 in Toronto. His last start in Toronto a month ago was one of his best and most dominating starts of the season, as he made it through 8 shutout innings on just 3 hits and no walks, striking out 4. In the other 2 starts, he allowed a combined 6 runs on 10 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7 over 12 innings. He allowed 4 home runs - 1 each to Freddy Galvis and Eric Sogard, and 2 to Randal Grichuk.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Expect Grichuk to be back in the lineup against Tanaka after the success he has had against him so far this season.

Reese McGuire caught Kay in his first start, so they may go with him again due to that familiarity, although it seems like McGuire and Danny Jansen are just catching alternating days, so I would guess that it’ll be Jansen today.

Also seemingly working on alternating days are Brandon Drury and Justin Smoak. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Drury at 3B today while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. slides over to DH and Smoak is on the bench.

There also seems to be an alternating day share between Derek Fisher and Teoscar Hernandez, which means it is Teoscar’s time to be in the lineup.

Yankees’ Lineup

The Yankees are obviously still playing for something, so they’re going to be playing most of their regulars. Their magic number to clinch the division is 5, meaning that between this series and the Angels-Rays series, the Yankees and Angels need to win 5 of 6 for the Yankees to clinch the division in Toronto. That doesn’t seem likely, and I’d much rather not watch that, so hopefully they can put that off until they’re in New York next week. The likely more important race for them right now is for home field advantage in the playoffs, which they’re currently leading the Astros by 2 games.

The Yankees lost a couple players to injury this week, as Edwin Encarnacion and Gary Sanchez went down with injuries. EE went back to New York for more test, but the early indication is that he has an oblique strain and will miss a little bit of time, but not the rest of the season. Sanchez has also gone back to New York for further testing on a groin strain he suffered yesterday, but results aren’t known on the severity there either. I don’t expect either to be in the lineup this weekend.

In other injury news, the most recent breakout player that nobody had ever heard of before, Mike Tauchman, was placed on the Injured List earlier this week with a calf strain.

There is good news on the injury front too though. Gio Urshela, another random breakout star for the Yankees this year, returned to the lineup about the same time Tauchman went down after missing just under 2 weeks with a groin strain.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Juan Lagaras went 2-4 with a pair of home runs while driving in 6 to pick up the Monster Bat award. His efforts helped give Marcus Stroman his second win in New York, as the Mets beat the Diamondbacks 11-1.

Old friend Freddy Galvis hit a big grand slam in the 7th inning last night, turning a 5-3 deficit into a 7-3 advantage. Cincinnati piled on more after that too, eventually winning 11-5 over the Mariners. For his part, Galvis gets the WPA King trophy with a .583 mark.

Yu Darvish dominated his way through the Padres lineup, throwing 6 shutout innings while allowing 2 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 14, accounting for all but 4 of the outs that way, which when all put together get him the Pitcher of the Day award. His Cubs beat the Padres 4-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Tanaka and Corey Dickerson.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs