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Game #22 Preview: Thornton vs Scherzer

Blue Jays (10-11) vs Nationals (8-11)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

After a very lengthy road trip, the Blue Jays return home for a short series against the visiting Nationals. Gametime today is set to get underway at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Right hander Trent Thornton is set to get the start for the Blue Jays, but where things go from there is a bit uncertain. We will likely see lefty Tommy Milone for a couple innings, while Joel Payamps and Ty Tice are both very well rested as well. It’ll ultimately end up being an all hands on deck experience today, as the 10 guys that are out in the bullpen will all be in play after Thornton’s night is through.

We can expect Thornton to go 2, maybe 3 innings tonight. His last time out he made it through 2 clean innings against the Red Sox, facing just 1 over the minimum. I was a bit surprised he wasn’t brought back out for the 3rd inning, but it worked out in the end as the Jays won 6-3. Thornton has now gone 9.2 innings this year, and has allowed 2 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6.

Nationals’ Starter

The Nationals will turn to their Ace in this one, as 36 year old Max Scherzer will make his 5th start of the season. The big righty, who is in the final year of his massive 7 year contract, is off to yet another great start. Through 4 starts, he has thrown 25 innings, allowing just 5 runs on 14 hits and 4 walks.

Scherzer has been pretty much perfect since the third inning of opening day. The Nationals’ start to the season was delayed due to Covid, but they opened up the schedule against the Braves on April 6. Scherzer allowed a lead off home run in each of the first 3 innings, with another solo home run hit off him in 1st inning. That accounts for 4 of the 5 runs allowed, so since that home run leading off the 3rd inning, Scherzer has gone 23 innings, allowing just a single run on 10 hits and 4 walks. He is currently working on a 17 inning scoreless streak, so the Jays will try to end that tonight.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

We’re looking at a “good chance” that today will be the debut of George Springer!!!

If Springer is indeed activated for today’s game, there will need to be a corresponding roster move, likely either Jonathan Davis or Santiago Espinal. I hate to see Espinal go, but I don’t think we should expect the odd man out to be Joe Panik at this point, so Espinal will either be optioned with the return of Springer today, or Teoscar Hernández, whenever that day may be.

Cavan Biggio, who has 3 hits and 4 walks in 18 plate appearances since being bumped up to the top of the order, can hopefully at a minimum hold that production once he’s bumped back down for Springer. That’s still not what I’d hope to get out of Biggio, especially with just 1 extra base hit in 4 games, but he is at least getting on base.

Nationals’ Lineup

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we won’t get to see one of the most exciting young players in baseball in this series. Juan Soto went to the Injured List last Monday, and wouldn’t be able to return to active duty even if he was healthy (which he seems to maybe be) until after this series is over.

Outside of Soto, the offence is pretty thin once you get past SS Trea Turner and 2B Josh Harrison. Yadiel Hernández, Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber will likely fill out the rest of the top half of the lineup, while the bottom will see either Yan Gomes or Alex Avila behind the plate, with Starlin Castro and Victor Robles rounding things out.

Long time National Ryan Zimmerman has spent most of the season pinch hitting, so I would guess that he will get the opportunity to DH this series. The 36 year old has had a fairly strong start to the year after sitting out the 2020 season, and carries a .294/.314/.500 (120 wRC+) batting line through 35 PA into the game.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Cedric Mullins II had a great game yesterday, going 3-4 with a pair of home runs and a double, good enough to pick up the Monster Bat. And even better than that, his bat was the difference as the Orioles took down the last place Yankees by a score of 4-2.

Anthony DeSclafani threw a complete game shutout last night, doing so on 100 pitches. He held the Rockies to just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 9 to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He obviously also got the win, as the Giants won 12-0.

In a very good pitching duel yesterday, Zack Wheeler just barely outdueled Adam Wainwright. Wainwright allowed a pair of home runs to Rhys Hoskins in the 7th and 9th innings, but otherwise threw a complete game loss. Wheeler made it through 8 shutout innings, but came back out for the 9th and surrendered a lead off walk. That walk ended his night, the runner scored, but the Phillies held on to the 2-1 win over the Cardinals. Wheeler’s WPA King total for that great game was .488.

Find the Link

Find the link between Yadiel Hernández and former Blue Jay Shun Yamaguchi.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant