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Game #4 Preview: Thornton vs Sánchez

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Blue Jays (1-2) vs Nationals (1-2)

MLB: JUL 26 Blue Jays at Rays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Blue Jays head north from Florida, making their way to Washington to take on the Nationals for a 4 game home and home that doesn’t leave Nationals Park. Today’s game starts at 6:05 EDT, an hour earlier than normal, so make sure you’re ready.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Trent Thornton makes his first start of the year for the Jays, looking to build off a year that saw a lot of good mixed with some pretty terrible. Overall, Thornton went 6-9 with a 4.84 ERA, getting hurt the most by the home run ball. He allowed 1.40 home runs per 9 innings last year, a figure that puts him just outside the top 20 among the 75 pitchers who threw at least 150 innings. So not an extreme, but still a lot.

Thornton finished the season very strong last year. In 5 September appearances, 3 of which were following an opener, he went 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA over 24.2 innings. He struck out more than a batter per inning, kept the walks under control, and allowed just 1 home run.

Nationals’ Starter

The Nationals will counter with veteran righty Aníbal Sánchez. The 36 year old will be pitching in his 15th season, and has seen a bit of a resurgence since leaving the Tigers following the 2017 season. In 30 starts last year with the Nats, he went 11-8 with a 3.85 ERA, a full run higher than the 7-6 record with a 2.83 ERA he put up the year prior in Atlanta.

As with any pitcher getting into his mid-30s, Sánchez has started to see a decline in his pitch velocity. He has able to become more of a pitcher, relying on location and quality of his pitches to get himself through instead of blowing batters away. However, as with any pitcher who begins losing his velocity, there is a point to cross before the fastball becomes way too easy to hit.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Travis Shaw will likely be back in the lineup today, although why he didn’t pinch hit in yesterday’s game I’m not sure.

Expect to see Derek Fisher getting the start in RF, while Teoscar Hernandez slides over to CF. Since Randal Grichuk came out of yesterday’s game, there shouldn’t be any rush to get him back in there.

I’m curious to see how the catchers will be used this season. Danny Jansen caught games 1 and 3, while Reese McGuire caught game 2. It’s possible they just bounce back and forth, which would definitely help in keeping the catchers fresh.

Nationals’ Lineup

With Anthony Rendon having moved on to the Angels, that leaves Juan Soto as the bat to watch out for in the Nationals’ lineup. However, Soto hasn’t played yet this season after a positive COVID test, something that requires two negatives to be able to be back on the field. He received his first negative on Saturday, and could get a second one and be back in the lineup as early as tonight.

Over the weekend against the Yankees, the Nationals were held to 1 run in a rain shortened game against Gerrit Cole on Friday, and 2 runs in yesterday’s loss to Jonathan Loaisiga and 6 innings of bullpen. However, they managed to score 9 runs on Saturday, getting big contributions from Victor Robles and Asdrubal Cabrera, although everyone in the lineup contributed a hit, save for Trea Turner. So even without Rendon, their lineup is a strong one, just not quite as good as the one that won the World Series last year.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Nelson Cruz went 4-5 with a pair of home runs and doubles, driving in 7 to comfortably come home with the Monster Bat award. The 40 year old slugger scored each time on base, and helped his Twins to the 14-2 drubbing of the rival White Sox.

Patrick Corbin was outstanding for the Nats yesterday, throwing 6.1 innings while allowing just 2 Yankee baserunners, although 1 was of the solo home run variety. Overall, he went 6.1 innings, walked none and struck out 8 to pick up the Pitcher of the Day honours in the Nationals 3-2 loss.

Brandon Lowe, the one who hit the game tying 2 run single off Brian Moran in the 9th inning last night, picks up the WPA King title. Coupled with a pair of doubles earlier in the game, Lowe put up a .419 WPA in the Rays’ 6-5 extra inning win.

Find the Link

Find the link between Juan Soto and Julio Urias.