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Game #59 Preview: Means vs Shoemaker

Blue Jays (31-27) vs Orioles (24-34)

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays will play their second last game of the regular season today, still trying to jockey for position (Minor Leaguer has a thorough breakdown of what the jockeying looks like), as they host the Orioles. The game gets underway at 6:37 EDT this evening.

Blue Jays’ Starter

It’ll be a final tune-up start for Matt Shoemaker, who will be making his second start since coming back from injury, but also preparing for a potential game 3 of the Wild Card round, if it makes it that far. On the season, Shoemaker 0-1 with a 4.71 ERA, so not the greatest numbers for a number 3 starter, but we all know he’s capable of much more than that.

Shoemaker returned from the Injured List on Monday against the Yankees. He threw 54 pitches over 3 innings, running into a bit of trouble, but working around it. Overall, he allowed just 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out just 1 batter. His fastball was sitting 93-94 in that start, the highest it had ever been in his career, so that’s something worth keeping an eye on today as well.

Orioles’ Starter

The Orioles will send out last year’s Rookie of the Year runner up in John Means, who is having a lot tougher year than he did last year. In 2019, Means went 12-11 with a 3.60, and a still pretty good 4.41 FIP. This year, those numbers have declined to a 2-3 record with a 5.02 ERA and 6.02 FIP.

His biggest difference this season over last appears to be the amount of home runs he has allowed, a problem which isn’t unique to just Means. Otherwise, he’s actually pitching a bit better than last year, with a couple mph added to his fastball, more strikeouts, fewer walks, and about the same amount of hard and soft contact. But the doubling of his home run rate still washing all those advancements away, and then some.

Means faced off against the Jays back on August 28, and had an alright start, although it was a bit abbreviated. He lasted just 4 innings, while he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk, striking out 3. However, he was taken out after 4 innings, as the Jays were about to turn over their lineup for the 3rd time, and Means had just allowed back to back home runs to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez to open the 3rd inning.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had the day off yesterday, and the plan was to have each of the 6 regulars get a game off each this series. That leaves Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the infield, and Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez in the outfield as ones that will be out either today or tomorrow. I’m sure it’ll be an infielder and an outfielder each day, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them use the off day on Monday to give Vladdy and Teo an extra day, so my guess is Bo and Grichuk will be the ones sitting today.

Alejandro Kirk got the start on Monday when Shoemaker made the start (Kirk’s 4 hit game), and I would imagine we’ll see him behind the plate again today. However, with a short bench, that might mean Danny Jansen is our DH, so I’m not sure how things will actually line up with the lineup today.

Orioles’ Lineup

Renato Nunez missed his second straight start yesterday as he continues to nurse a sore knee. The expectation is that he’ll play one game this weekend, which to me, if you’re out of it, why risk further damage. But hey, I’m not in charge of anything.

Otherwise, I don’t expect anything to be too different about tonight’s lineup. Pedro Severino will likely be back behind the plate. Jose Iglesias, provided his wrist is still good, will be in the lineup at DH, hitting singles all over the place.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Willson Contreras went 2-3 with a pair of home runs, a walk, a HBP and the best bat flip of 2020 to pick up the Monster Bat award. He helped his Cubs to the 10-0 win over the White Sox.

Trent Grisham had a huge day, going 3-5 with a pair of walks, hitting a walk off home run in game 2 and having some big at bats throughout the entire day. It all adds up to the highest WPA our WPA King has ever scored, notching a combined 1.102 WPA for the day. The Padres and Giants split the double header 6-5 and 5-4, as 5 is the only score the Giants can manage to reach.

Yu Darvish and Chris Bassitt are the co-winners of the Pitcher of the Day award. Both pitchers went 7 shutout innings. Darvish added to his Cy Young award credentials while picking up the win in the aforementioned 10-0 Cubs win over the White Sox, while Bassitt had to watch his Athletics win it in extras over the Mariners 3-1.

Standings Watch

Current seed: 8th (unchanged from yesterday)
Games back of the Yankees for 2nd in East: 1 (-1 from yesterday, elimination number is 1*)
Games back of Cleveland for 7th seed: Can no longer catch Cleveland.
Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot: CLINCHED!!!!!!!!!

*Again, see Minor Leaguer’s write up

Find the Link

Find the link between Renato Nunez, Matt Olson and Hunter Dozier.