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Game 1 Preview: Ryu vs Morton

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Baseball is back!

Toronto Blue Jays Vs. Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Welcome back!

Today we begin a (supposed) 60 game stretch of watching our still homeless Migratory Blue Jays. In true 2020 fashion, the Blue Jays will begin their season down in the little house of horrors known as Tropicana Field. Expect a lot of jokes about “standard Rays crowd sizes” coming today, as we prepare for what is going to be weird baseball.

But it’s baseball nonetheless, and it’s real. And it gets underway at 6:40 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays are going with their prized offseason signing Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Jays’ signed the 33 year old lefty to a 4 year, $80 million contract this past offseason, the biggest contract they have ever guaranteed a pitcher.

Ryu spent the first 7 seasons of his Major League career pitching for the Dodgers, after spending the previous 7 seasons playing for the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO League in South Korea.

In his time with the Dodgers, Ryu fought with a lot of injuries. He has had surgery on both his shoulder and his elbow, while also spending time on the injured list for ailments related to his back and groin. But when he has been on the mound, he has been excellent. In 125 starts and one 4 inning relief appearance, he is 54-33 with a 2.98 ERA and 1 save.

Ryu is coming off the best season of his career last year, no doubt part of the reason the Jays were confident to sign him. He went 14-5 with a Major League leading 2.32 ERA, finishing second in the NL Cy Young race behind Jacob DeGrom. He threw 182.2 innings, the most since his 192 in his first season back in 2013

Rays’ Starter

The Rays will counter with Charlie Morton, making his first Opening Day start as well. Morton very much deserves his honour as well, as he pitched great and was the only Rays’ starter that made it through the season healthy last year. He led the team in starts, collecting even more than Ryne Stanek, who had 27 opening assignments.

In a career high 33 starts, the 36 year old went 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA. He finished third in the Cy Young voting, quite a ways back from the Astro duo of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. But Morton was still spectacular, and will look to continue that success in this abbreviated season.

Morton faced the Jays 3 times last year, collecting a 3.06 ERA over 17.2 innings. He was saddled with just one decision, which was a loss at home at the beginning of August. Blue Jays’ batters hit .239/.316/.373 against him overall, collecting 6 doubles and a Bo Bichette home run.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The lineup that we saw the last couple days against the Red Sox will be pretty close to what we’ll see. I would imagine that those lineups will be the goal of Montoyo, starting everything off with Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

LF will be a variable tonight, based on whether Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is healthy enough to make the start in LF. If he’s not, expect Derek Fisher to get the start out there.

Behind the plate, we’ll see if it’s Danny Jansen or Reese McGuire. My guess will be McGuire, as the Jays are facing a righty in Morton today, but will be facing a pair of lefties in Ryan Yarbrough and Blake Snell the rest of the weekend. However, the Jays play at 6:40 ET today, then 3:10 ET tomorrow, followed by a 1:10 ET start Sunday, so the timing of the starts might be more important than the opposing pitcher’s handedness.

Rays’ Lineup

The Rays added a handful of new faces to their lineup over the offseason, to go along with their general group of Jays’ killers. They signed Yoshi Tsutsugo out of Japan, traded for José Martinez from the Cardinals, and in a pair of trades with the Padres, they added Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe and Margot will join Kevin Kiermaier to form one of the best defensive outfields in recent memory, at least when healthy. In total between the three of them last season, they had 42 DRS and 22.8 UZR over about 3000 innings. They will be good, at least defensively. Offensively, Renfroe paced the trio with a 98 wRC+.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Yesterday saw a pair of Major League games, with the Yankees beating the defending champion Nationals 4-1 in a rain shortened game and the Dodgers destroying the Giants 8-1.

Kiké Hernandez was the big bat, going 4-5 with a home run and 5 RBI. Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole both threw 5 inning complete games, with Cole allowing just an Adam Eaton home run, a walk and nothing else.

Find the Link

Find the link between Yoshi Tsutsugo, Ryan Lavarnway and Manny Machado.