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Game #5 Preview: Roark vs Voth

Blue Jays (2-2) vs Nationals (1-3)

Toronto Blue Jays v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

With the win last night, the Blue Jays can wrap up the short two game sweep of the Nationals this evening. After tonight’s game, the Jays will travel from Washington to Washington, where they will play a pair of “home” games against the Nationals. Tonight’s game fits the earlier schedule again, getting underway at 6:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will send newly signed righty Tanner Roark (pronounced Roh-ark), who signed for 2 years, $24m. Roark spent the first 6 seasons of his career playing for today’s opponent, before splitting last season with the Reds and Athletics.

Through 1100.1 career innings, Roark is 74-64 with a 3.71 ERA, although the seasons that bring down his ERA came earlier in his career. He has now had 3 straight seasons with an ERA between 4.34 and 4.58, but he has at least been quite consistent. Staying healthy is probably his biggest calling card, making at least 30 starts in 5 of his 6 full seasons, with the only exception being a year split between the rotation and bullpen.

Aside from health, Roark’s biggest asset is his ability to pound the strike zone, as his career 2.57 BB/9 can attest to. He doesn’t have big flashy strikeout numbers, as he’ll sit one or two K/9 innings below the league average.

Nationals’ Starter

The Nationals will send out 28 year old righty Austin Voth. Voth has spent 8 seasons in the Nationals’ system trying to make a career of baseball, and he finally broke through with some sustained success at the Major League level last year. He pitched in 9 games, starting 8, and he went 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA.

Voth doesn’t throw overly hard, with a fastball sitting in the 92-94 range, but he throws it 60% of the time. He’ll mix in the standard slider, curveball and changeup, a combination that has allowed him to strike out about a batter per inning last year. He does a pretty good job of keeping free runners off the bases as well, typically being well below 3 walks per 9 innings pretty much every level of every season.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The Jays belted out 4 home runs yesterday after hitting just 2 in the three games in Tampa Bay. They also managed to strike out 9 times, taking some very ugly swings against Aníbal Sánchez, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. specifically. Vladdy has looked very underwhelming at the plate so far, once again hitting the ball on the ground way too often.

Bo Bichette and Randal Grichuk missed yesterday’s game, although neither of their injuries (hamstring for Bo, SI Joint for Grichuk) seem to be overly serious, and both are expected to be back in the lineup soon. Travis Shaw is also away from the team, tending to a family matter.

Danny Jansen has caught back to back games now, so I would expect Reese McGuire to catch this one.

Nationals’ Lineup

The Nats pounded out 11 hits yesterday, although Kurt Suzuki was the only one to do so for extra bases on his RBI double.

Juan Soto is still on the IL after testing positive for COVID last Thursday. He has one negative test result from Saturday and requires one more in order to be activated off the IL. I would imagine there’s a chance that could come today.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Today’s co-winners of the Monster Bat award are Hunter Renfroe and Maikel Franco. Both went 3-5 with a pair of home runs and a single, driving in 4 runs while their teams plated 14 runs total. In Renfroe’s situaton, he helped his Rays to the 14-5 win over the Braves, while Franco helped his new teammates on the Royals to 14-6 win over the Tigers.

There were 9 games yesterday, and not one single pitcher went longer than 5 innings. So we’ll give the Pitcher of the Day honours to Jon Lester, who threw 5 no-hit innings, allowing just a walk and bean ball. Going 5 allowed him to pick up the win in the 8-7 Cubs’ victory over the Reds.

How was it an 8-7 game if the starter threw 5 no-hit innings? The Cubs bullpen is a wonderful thing, allowing 5 runs from innings 6-8. Once-great closer Craig Kimbrel came in to wrap things up with a 3 run lead in the bottom of the 9th; however, things went terribly, terribly wrong for him. A HBP, 4 walks and a wild pitch sandwiching a groundout would spell the end for him, leaving the bases loaded with 1 out, up by 1. And that’s where our WPA King came in. Jeremy Jeffress struck out Phillip Ervin before getting Joey Votto to line out to end the game, giving Jeffress a .548 WPA as he preserved the win.

Find the Link

Find the link between Kurt Suzuki and Jackie Bradley Jr.