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Game #141 Preview: Thornton vs Pruitt

Blue Jays (55-85) vs Rays (82-59)

MLB: SEP 03 Blue Jays at Braves Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their road trip down into St. Petersburg to take on the Rays this evening. This is the Jays’ second game exclusively on YouTube TV, so don’t forget that your normal TV isn’t going to have tonight’s game when you go to tune in for the 7:10 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Trent Thornton heads to the mound, making his 28th start of the season. After another rough outing his last time out against the Astros, he is now 4-9 with a 5.57 ERA. He did manage to have a walkless start for just the 5th time this season, highlighting perhaps his biggest struggle this year as he makes his transition from the Minors to the Majors. Throughout his Minor League career, he walked 1.71 per 9 innings, and he is more than double that in his first shot at the Majors, currently sitting at 3.61 per 9 innings.

Thornton will be facing perhaps his biggest nemesis this evening in the Rays, the team that has knocked him around the most in his short career. His two starts where he has allowed 3 home runs have come against the Rays, once in April at the Rogers Centre and the other time in Tropicana Field in August. In total, Thornton is 0-1 with an 11.12 ERA in 11.1 innings, getting hit by Rays’ batters to the tune of a 1.246 OPS. He might be in for a tough game tonight.

Rays’ Starter

The Rays will send out right hander Austin Pruitt, seemingly of no relation to Blue Jays’ Minor Leaguer Reggie Pruitt. Pruitt will be making his second start of the season, after working his first 10 appearances as a reliever and bulk guy for the Rays. His last start went very well, as he made it through 5.1 shutout innings, striking out 6 while walking none and giving up 4 hits. He is currently 2-0 on the season with a 4.78 ERA, but a much nicer looking 4.25 FIP over his 37.2 innings.

Pruitt has one previous appearance against the Jays, pitching 2 shutout innings a month ago in Toronto. He held the Jays to just a pair of hits, back to back singles by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Freddy Galvis, but otherwise pitched pretty well.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Now that rosters have expanded, it will be a lot harder to predict who will be out there on a given night. I know that Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio will be given most of the starts, so penciling them in to the top of the lineup is a safe bet. But after that, I would imagine the lineup will be in constant flux. I would guess that Derek Fisher, so long as he is healthy, gets the 4th most playing time going forward.

There is one other player that I would love to see penciled into pretty much every lineup from now until the end of the year, and that’s Anthony Alford. Alford is out of options, and the Jays haven’t really had a chance to see him perform at the Major League level with any shred of consistent playing time. Given the talent that Alford has, they would be foolish to not give him the opportunity now that he’s healthy.

Behind the plate, Reese McGuire has taken on a lot of the catching duties. It has been a long year for Danny Jansen, as not only has he had to learn the ropes catching in the Majors and figuring out an ever-changing pitching staff, but a rookie catcher has the added struggle on the defensive side of figuring out his opponents as well. His offense hasn’t lived up to the expectations placed on him, but I doubt anyone in any decision making position is considering a greatly reduced role for him next year.

Rays’ Lineup

Former Jay Eric Sogard took a pitch to the glasses the other day, roughing up his nose a bit too. He’s currently day to day, so I would imagine he’ll get back in the game at some point this weekend. Since leaving the Jays on deadline day, Sogard has continued to put up pretty much the exact same numbers he did in Toronto. In pretty much a third of the plate appearances he put up in Toronto, he has pretty much a third of the counting stats he did for the Jays, including home runs, singles, doubles, strikeouts, walks and stolen bases. It’s pretty amazing how consistent he has been since moved to Tampa.

Aside from Sogard’s day to day status, the Rays have a pretty healthy and fully functioning offensive unit. Kevin Kiermaier was down for a bit with an injury, but has been back for about a week now.

Expect the Rays to have about half a dozen lefties in the lineup against Thornton, as Tommy Pham and Willy Adames seem like the only righties that are a lock to be in there now that rosters have expanded.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Mookie Betts went 4-5 with a pair of home runs, driving in 5 to earn the Monster Bat award. His offensive output helped the Red Sox beat their White Sox counterparts 8-6.

Kevin Pillar had a big game yesterday, continuing to establish a new career high in home runs despite hitting in the notoriously terrible hitters parks of the NL West. Last night’s 21st home run came in the top of the 8th to give his Giants the 9-8 lead, a lead which they managed to hold as they beat the Cardinals. Pillar’s WPA King total for the day was .579.

Rookie Zac Gallen didn’t allow a hit until a 1 out single to Manny Machado in the 7th inning. But he managed to make that the only damage as he closed out the inning and hung another 0 on the Padres. In total, the Diamondbacks’ rookie pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 8 and picking up the win over Chris Paddack and the Padres 4-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Pruitt and Brock Stassi

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs