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Game #34 Preview: Merryweather(?) vs Hernandez

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Blue Jays (18-15) vs Marlins (15-15)

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Blue Jays are at the unenviable point in their schedule, when they have to travel to Florida. Thankfully they’ll be in Miami for just a couple of days, taking on the Marlins for a two game set. Today’s game is scheduled for 6:40 EDT.

Blue Jays’ Starter

For the time being, it seems like Julian Merryweather will be getting the ball to start the game, and after a few innings, will be relieved by Shun Yamaguchi. That could change fairly quickly though, as the Blue Jays traded for both Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling yesterday. Stripling last pitched on Saturday, so he wouldn’t be available today, but Ray last pitched last Wednesday, nearly a week ago, so he does line up for this start. The Diamondbacks were in Phoenix yesterday, so getting from Phoenix to Miami shouldn’t be too hard, but I’m not sure about that in the time of COVID. Taijuan Walker, for what it’s worth, was traded on Thursday and made his start on Saturday, but that’s when he was needed as opposed to maybe being available on Friday instead.

Back to Merryweather, who I would say is the most likely to be starting this one. Merryweather has pitched in 3 games this season, with a pair of relief appearances and his start last Wednesday. In theory he would likely slide back into a more common role in the bullpen after today, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him optioned to make way for the new guys, although that feels like a bad idea. Through 5.1 innings, Merryweather has yet to allow a run on 2 hits and 2 walks, striking out 9 batters along the way.

Marlins’ Starter

Elieser Hernandez will be making his 6th start of the season, and he has been quite good thus far. Across 23.2 innings, the 25 year old righty is 1-0 with a 3.04 ERA. He is averaging just short of 5 innings per start, but has at least completed 4 in every outing. He has allowed 9 runs total, although just 8 earned on 19 hits and 4 walks, striking out 32. His 5 home runs allowed are a bit of a problem, but overall that’s a really good stat line.

Hernandez faced the Jays back on August 11, and pitched his longest game of the year, going 5.1 innings. The Jays’ bats were able to get to him a little bit in the 6th inning, but Hernandez was quite dominant through the first 5 innings, allowing just a single and a walk. But the 6th inning was a different story, as the Blue Jays bats woke up as Danny Jansen and Cavan Biggio opened the frame with a pair of doubles, followed by a 3-run home run by Bo Bichette. All told, it was 4 hits, with 3 of them being extra bases, a walk and 5 strikeouts.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Newly acquired Jonathan Villar, who was traded to the Blue Jays’ yesterday from these same Marlins, will be in Miami and should be ready to go for this series. I would imagine he’ll be starting at SS for the majority of games this year until Bichette is back and healthy.

Villar was the only position player addition yesterday, so we’ll still see Travis Shaw at 3B, at least against righties. I’m hoping that the addition of Shaw spells the end for Joe Panik’s time in Toronto, but I’m quite confident that will be incorrect. Instead, look for Santiago Espinal to be optioned, even though he would make a much more logical bench and platoon partner for Shaw.

Alejandro Kirk has been added to the Blue Jays’ Taxi Squad, and he’ll be super exciting when he joins the fray as well. If Kirk does indeed join the active roster, he will potentially be entering a backup role behind the plate (perhaps taking Reese McGuire’s roster spot?), and I believe there’s a good chance he platoons with Rowdy Tellez getting some DH at bats against lefties.

Marlins’ Lineup

Coming over to the Marlins in yesterday’s deadline was Starling Marte, one of the better overall centre fielders in the game. Marte will be likely be coming to Miami on the same flight as his former teammate Robbie Ray, so I would imagine that if he is starting tonight’s game in the outfield, Ray will be starting the game on the mound for the Jays.

Infielder Isan Diaz, who had opted out of the season, has requested to be reinstated by the league. His potential return could give the Marlins another solid piece, whether that’s as the everyday second baseman (likely) or just as a bench piece remains to be seen. If he does play second full time, that moves former Blue Jay Jon Berti into a super utility role.

Berti has been in CF a lot recently, but with Marte coming for that position, he is slowly being forced out of the lineup. That is a good problem for the Marlins, as Berti is hitting .244/.341/.308 (88 wRC+), getting on base a lot but not hitting for power. But he is having fun on the bases, stealing 8 so far this year, including a 3 steal inning that finished with him bear crawling to home plate.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Juan Soto launched a pair of home runs yesterday, driving in 4 while also drawing a walk to pick up the Monster Bat award. His big bat wasn’t enough though, as the Nationals fell to the Phillies 8-6.

Marco Gonzales threw a complete game yesterday, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and a walk. He struck out 8 along the way to picking up the Pitcher of the Day honours, and earned the win in the Mariners’ 2-1 win over the Angels. Since that was such a close game, Gonzales picked up a bunch of WPA, and comes home with the WPA King total of .731. Why he was allowed to finish the game I’m not sure, as he was up against Mike Trout up by 1 with none out and a runner on second in the 9th inning. But Trout lined into a double play, and Gonzales ended the night by getting Albert Pujols to pop out.

Find the Link

Find the link between Jon Berti and Ben Braymer.