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Game #142 Preview: Buchholz vs McKay

Blue Jays (55-86) vs Rays (83-59)

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Toronto Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

After a bad day yesterday, including the bats and the pitching, but especially the defense and the broadcast, the Blue Jays will look to have a more enjoyable day against the Rays this evening. Tonight’s game is set for 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Veteran Clay Buchholz will make another start for the Jays, looking to continue the surprising run that he is on since coming back from the Injured List. In 2 starts, he has gone 11.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits, walking 5 and striking out 6. The first of those two games was an exceptionally efficient game, as he didn’t walk anyone and made it through 6 innings in 65 pitches. He struggled a bit more in the second game, but still gave up the same 2 runs on 3 hits, but couldn’t make it out of the 6th inning, and walked 5 while throwing 85 pitches. I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect that he at least won’t be held back by a low pitch count today.

Buchholz faced the Rays back in April, and had his best start of his injury plagued season. He made it through 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 6 hits, didn’t walk anyone, and managed to get a pair of punchouts.

Rays’ Starter

The Rays will counter with young two-way phenom Brendan McKay, although 2019 has had a lot more of a dedication to pitching for him as opposed to hitting. There is a chance that the Rays go with an opener in front of McKay, so if he’s not starting this one, he will at least be the bulk guy.

This will be McKay’s 9th start at the Major League level, and the first 8 haven’t gone as well as the Rays were hoping for one of their best ranked prospects. Through 35.2 innings, he is 2-3 with a 5.55 ERA, although his FIP is a better looking 4.84 and his xFIP is a better-than-average 4.39, so the young lefty’s skills are showing up in the Majors, they’re just clouded by a bit of a difficulty with the long ball. He has allowed 8 home runs so far, which is what has driven his bad numbers, as his 12 walks and 41 strikeouts are both good rates for the rookie.

McKay made a start against the Jays a month ago, and while it didn’t go poorly, he was saddled with the loss in the Jays’ 4-3 win. McKay threw 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 1 and striking out 8. But as mentioned before, it was the home runs that proved to be the challenge for McKay, as he allowed long balls to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Speaking of Gurriel, he is expected to get into a sim game at some point today, and while he may be back sometime this weekend, his timetable has been pushed back a few days and he may not make it back into the lineup until the Jays are back in Toronto.

After last night’s poor display by the outfielders (save for Randal Grichuk’s nice catch at the wall, and Derek Fisher’s 9th inning walk), I wouldn’t be opposed to an entirely new outfield tonight. We have the players, might as well cycle through them. Today’s outfield against the lefty should at least include Jonathan Davis and especially Anthony Alford.

With the lefty on the mound for the Rays, and the veteran on the mound for the Jays, this seems like a game that the Jays will go with Danny Jansen. Jansen’s time has been significantly reduced over the last couple weeks, and I’m sure his body is thankful for the break. Speaking of Jansen, John Lott has an excellent piece over at the Athletic on his year that I recommend you give a read.

Rays’ Lineup

Austin Meadows continued his dismantling of the Jays this season, going 3-4 with a home run, a pair of doubles and a bean ball last night. His season line against the Jays is now up to .444/.516/.889 with 6 home runs and 13 RBI, getting walked/beaned as much as he has been struck out. And we still have 6 more games against him.

Don’t be surprised to see a fairly similar lineup to the one they ran out last night. While they may have an 8 man bench, they are still fighting for their lives in the Wild Card race and will keep the pedal to the metal the rest of the way. The only difference may be at second base today, where Eric Sogard is currently out with likely a black and blue face. There also may be a change at catcher today, after Travis d’Arnaud took a beating behind the plate last night.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Marcus Semien went 4-4 last night, hitting a pair of doubles while also taking a bean ball, all good enough for the Monster Bat award. His bat was key in the Athletics’ 10-6 win over the Angels to help in their Wild Card race against Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

Austin Meadows gets the WPA King title for his dismantling of the Jays last night. His .372 WPA helped the Rays to the 6-4 win.

Cleveland was not as fortunate as the other two AL Wild Card contenders, as they ran into yesterday’s Pitcher of the Day. White Sox’ starter Reynaldo Lopez went the distance, allowing just 1 run on 1 hit, although he did walk 3. He struck out 11 as the White Sox beat Cleveland 7-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between McKay and Bob Tewksbury.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs