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Game #48 Preview: Roark vs Cole

Blue Jays (26-21) vs Yankees (27-21)

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Blue Jays suffered their second massive loss in less than a week last night, but will once again try to bounce back in the next game, this time against the Yankees. The game gets underway at 7:05 EDT.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Right hander Tanner Roark is tasked with slowing down the Yankees’ offence, which have now won 6 straight games and scored 48 runs in those games (even 28 runs in 5 games is pretty good). Roark faced the Yankees last week, in the game that started their current streak, although he wasn’t responsible for many runs. Over 4 innings, he allowed just 2 runs on 2 hits, both solo home runs to DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, but he also walked 3 and struck out just 3.

On the season, Roark is leading the pitching staff in negative fWAR, thanks to a huge 6.82 FIP over his 8 starts and 35.1 innings. He has walked 19 batters and struck out just 31, but the biggest culprit is his 10 home runs allowed, a rate of 2.55 per 9 innings. That is the 7th worst mark among the 116 pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched, sandwiched right between a pair of Jays’ trade deadline pickups in Ross Stripling and Robbie Ray. Luckily for Roark, although not a whole lot, his terrible performance thus far has resulted in a 2-1 record and a 5.60 ERA, and probably moreso luckily, a spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future.

Yankees’ Starter

The Yankees will send out their off-season prize Gerrit Cole, the recently turned 30 year old who they brought in over the winter on a 9 year, $324m deal to pry him away from the Astros. The early returns are probably a bit underwhelming for last year’s AL Cy Young runner up, as he is 5-3 with a 3.20 ERA thus far after a 20-5 and 2.50 ERA last year.

Cole’s biggest problem this year has undoubtedly been the home run, as he has allowed a Major League leading 13, although thanks to his ability to throw a large volume of innings, that is just a 1.98 per 9 inning rate. As a result, 17 of the 25 runs he has allowed this year have come off home runs, including 9 solo shots. Which makes sense, because without the home runs, Cole doesn’t allow enough traffic on the bases to be able to string together some runners and score some runs, allowing just 45 hits and 15 walks over his 59 innings.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had his best offensive game of the season last night, collecting 3 hits for the first time this year, and first time since August 22 of last year, a string of 73 games.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who inexplicably was down in the 6th spot in the batting order last night, also had 3 hits of his own. Over the last month, not including last night’s game (Fangraphs is being weird this morning), Gurriel is hitting .323/.389/.583, and should probably be batting higher than 6th.

Yankees’ Lineup

Gleyber Torres missed his second straight game last night due to a quadriceps issue, something that if I was in charge of the Yankees, would make sure he is 100% healthy before trotting him back out there. The Yankees are making the playoffs whether he plays the last couple weeks or not, and having him healthy through the playoffs is more important.

Giancarlo Stanton, in his return to the lineup yesterday, was the only starting position player to not record a hit or score a run last night, getting on base via a walk just once. Without a Minor League team to rehabilitate with, Stanton may take some time to get back in to the swing of things after being gone for over a month.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Luke Voit and Kole Calhoun both went 3-5 with a pair of home runs and 5 RBI, but since he’s not a Yankee, I’ll give the Monster Bat award to Calhoun only. Calhoun was instrumental in the Diamondbacks’ 9-8 win over the Angels.

Anthony Senzatela threw a 9 inning complete game last night, allowing just 1 run on 6 hits and a walk, striking out 3 and picking up the Pitcher of the Day award. He also racked up .580 WPA, giving him the WPA King title for the day as well, as the Rockies took down the Athletics 3-1.

Standings Watch

The Jays flipped spots with the Yankees in the standings with last night’s loss, falling into the 7th seed. They’re just half a game up on Cleveland, who holds the final playoff spot, and 4.5 up on the Mariners, who are currently 9th in the league.

Games back of Rays: 4.5
Magic Number for a Playoff Spot: 9

Find the Link

Find the link between Gerrit Cole and Curt Schilling.