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Game #42 Preview: Happ vs Walker

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Yankees (21-20) vs Blue Jays (23-18)

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

After an exciting come from behind win yesterday, the Blue Jays will look to make it 2 in a row against their closest rivals as the Yankees visit Buffalo for 3 games. Today’s game gets underway at 6:37 EDT.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Taijuan Walker will make his 3rd start as a Blue Jay, and 8th start overall. On the season he is 3-2 with a 3.26 ERA, and an even better 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA since joining Toronto. Across 38.2 innings, he has struck out 33 against 12 walks and 6 home runs, allowing just 31 hits.

Walker is using his cutter more frequently this season, and to great effect. Prior to this season, he had used his cutter about 10% of the time, but has upped the usage to over 22% so far this year. It has generated 14 of his 33 strike outs, and in the at bats that end with his cutter, hitters are hitting just .158/.188/.342 in 40 PA .

Yankees’ Starter

Old friend J.A. Happ gets the nod for the Yankees, and he is having another rough run in Yankee land. The 37 year old left hander is 1-1 with a 4.68 ERA over 5 starts, but has lost a lot of what made him successful in Toronto. In 25 innings, he has allowed 13 runs on 21 hits, surrendering 5 home runs and 11 walks while striking out just 15.

Initially I thought his fastball velocity would be his betraying factor the last couple seasons, as pitchers typically tend to find as the culprit while they move into their later 30s. But Happ’s fastball velocity this year is right in line with last year, and less than 1 mph below his time in Toronto. The biggest difference might be in the effectiveness of his changeup. In the past, his changeup was a great equalizer for him against righties, but this year batters in general have a .419 wOBA against it in 15 PA, and righties overall have a .336 wOBA (and .345 last year) against Happ, compared to a career .324 mark.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

As was confirmed yesterday, Teoscar Hernandez has been transition to the Injured List and replaced on the active roster by Jonathan Davis. Davis as a righty could very well get the start against Happ this evening, as I’m expecting he and Derek Fisher will play a bit of a platoon in RF while Teo is down.

We got some encouraging news on Bo Bichette yesterday, as he is heading to Rochester to get some reps in in a pseudo rehab assignment at the Alternate Training Site. His return can’t come soon enough, as the Jays are getting minimal production out of Jonathan Villar and Santiago Espinal.

Yankees’ Lineup

The top of the Yankees’ lineup yesterday wreaked havoc on the Jays yesterday, and that’s to be expected. The combination of DJ LeMahieu (152 wRC+), Luke Voit (158 wRC+), Aaron Hicks (113 wRC+) and Clint Frazier (156 wRC+) represent the only Yankee batters currently hitting above league average, now that Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela are on the Injured List. The top of the order went 6-15 with 5 walks, a home run and a double, scoring 5 times and driving in 5.

The other 5 batters in the Yankees’ lineup last night went a combined 3-22, and the Jays’ pitchers are really going to have to work hard to continue to keep them in check. There is a lot of talent in that group, as guys like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez (who is likely to be in the lineup tonight) have all been well above average hitters in the past.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Jean Segura went 4-5, hitting a home run and a double while driving in 5, to pick up the Monster Bat award. His home run was a 2-run shot leading off the top of the 10th inning, so while he does get credit for the extra baserunner in his WPA calculation, he did at least hit a home run to score himself too. So Segura picks up the WPA King title as well with a .697 mark, as the Phillies beat the Mets 9-8 in 10 innings.

Dinelson Lamet threw 7.2 shutout innings, allowing just 6 hits and nothing else while registering 11 punchouts to earn the Pitcher of the Day award. However, he did not earn the win, as the Padres walked off the Rockies in the bottom of the 9th for the 1-0 win.

Find the Link

Find the link between Aaron Hicks and Scott Bittle.