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Game #6 Preview: Scherzer vs Pearson

Nationals (1-4) vs Blue Jays (3-2)

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Good morning and Happy Pearson Day to you all! Fresh off a two game sweep of the Nationals in Washington, the Blue Jays open up a two game series against the Nationals in Washington. Except this time, the Jays are the home team.

Today is the pitching matchup of the year, with a superstar going up against one of the best pitching prospects in the game. Gametime is once again set for 6:05 EDT, so keep enjoying that earlier start time.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Nate Pearson will be officially called up today to make his Major League debut, now that the possibility to reach a full season of service time is behind him. He’ll bring his 100 mph fastball with him to the mound, along with a curveball, changeup and slider that are very much secondary to his devastating fastball, but are good pitches in their own right. If you want a full scouting report on Pearson, he sat down with Alexis Brudnicki and gave one of himself.

After missing most of 2018 with a broken arm, Pearson came back strong last season, although he did miss a bit more time with a groin injury. In 2019, he climbed from Dunedin through New Hampshire and ultimately to Buffalo, throwing 101.2 innings along the way. In total, he went 5-4 with a 2.30 ERA, striking out 119 to 27 walks.

Nationals’ Starter

Taking the mound for the “visiting” Nationals is 3-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Scherzer will be making his second start of the season, after getting knocked around a bit by the Yankees in a rain shortened opening day. In that one, he pitched a complete game 5.1 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and a very uncharacteristic 4 walks, although he did get the strikeout for 11 of the 16 outs.

Last season marked the first time Scherzer failed to reach the 30 start mark since his short rookie season of 2008, and he’ll obviously fall short of that again this year. He ended missing over a month last year with shoulder and back problems, making the injured list for just the second and third times since 2009.

When he was healthy and on the mound last year, he was still his normal dominant self, ultimately finishing third in the NL Cy Young race. Over 172.1 innings, he went 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA, striking out 243 to just 33 walks.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The Jays will be hopeful that both Bo Bichette and Randal Grichuk can be back out in the field today, as they’ll need everything they have to have a chance against Scherzer. I’m sure we won’t find out whether they’re healthy enough to play until pretty much gametime though.

Cavan Biggio got the start in RF last night, because maybe Anthony Alford and Derek Fisher disappeared into a different dimension or something? I’d much rather see either of those two over more of Brandon Drury and Joe Panik.

Santiago Espinal picked up his first career hit yesterday, and he should be the only one who plays a single inning at SS if Bo Bichette can’t (assuming no Francisco Lindor trade). With Espinal’s first career start there yesterday, and him proving that he can handle it, I’m hoping that he can keep drawing those assignments as they’re available.

Nationals’ Lineup

I’m really not sure what’s going on with Juan Soto. He seemingly hasn’t had a positive test since last Thursday, yet he remains out of the lineup. I know that MLB in general is doing a pretty good job at botching their responsibilities, but being able to get players back onto the field once they’re healthy seemed like something they would be on top of.

The Nationals have made it 5 games into the season without stealing a base so far. For a team that finished third in the Majors last season with 116, and possess uber steal threats like Trea Turner and Victor Robles, this is a pretty surprising stat. They’ve tried 3 times so far, but have been thrown out in every attempt (which I believe includes yesterday’s pickoff).

Yesterday’s Heroes

Javier Baez went 3-5 with a pair of home runs and a double, driving in 3 runs and picking up the Monster Bat award. Baez’s bat helped carry his Cubs to the 8-5 win over the Reds.

Merrill Kelly made it through 6 hitless innings before surrendering a 7th inning home run, then a pair of singles in the 8th. Overall, he went 7.2 innings, allowing 1 run on those 3 hits, walking 1 and striking out 7 to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. Since he pitched so well for so long, he ended up accumulating .366 WPA, which was enough for the WPA King title as well in the Diamondbacks 4-1 win over the Rangers.

Find the Link

Find the link between Trea Turner and Edwin Encarnacion.