After the awkward off day yesterday, the Blue Jays continue their 3 game series in New York this afternoon, looking to make it two in a row against the rival Yankees. The game is set for a 1:05 ET start.
Blue Jays’ Starter
The Jays’ number two starter appears to be Ross Stripling, because why not? Injuries have sidelined Robbie Ray and Nate Pearson, so Stripling is the next man up, and it may turn out to be alright. Despite coming off an abysmal season last year, Stripling does own a career 3.77 ERA and 3.89 FIP over parts of 5 seasons. Of course, we can’t discount last year a whole bunch, because it did happen, but like everything in 2020, we can understand the struggles.
Stripling might not be suitably built to face this roster. Over his entire career, he has pretty heavy reverse platoon splits - meaning righties have fared better against the Jays’ righty. He has held lefties to a .230/.281/.382 (.282 wOBA), while righties have teed off a fair bit more at a .277/.318/.472 (.335 wOBA) rate. Considering this Yankees’ lineup features some of the best right handed batters in the game, this could turn out quite poorly.
The Yankees will go with one of their few additions from this past winter in former two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Kluber will look to get back on the track he was prior to 2019, when he was forging forward putting down the foundation of a borderline Hall of Fame career.
Injuries were the big culprit for Kluber, starting with a comeback liner that broke his right arm in May of 2019. From there, he pulled an ab muscle during rehab that shut him down completely for 2019, followed by a torn shoulder muscle after 1 inning of work in 2020.
It’s that torn shoulder muscle that like had a lot of teams concerned this past winter. The level of dominance prior to injury should have made him an intriguing option for everyone, but the Yankees ended up signing him to a 1 year, $11m deal. And the early returns in spring, while encouraging with a 2.77 ERA, also have a pretty major red warning flag. After averaging 92 mph before his injury in 2019, his velocity was down a couple mph in his last Spring start, sitting 89-91 with both his sinker and his 4-seamer.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Off-day = OVER— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 3, 2021
Let's make it 2-0! #WeAreBlueJays pic.twitter.com/IxgxOstMfs
The Blue Jays will send out the exact same lineup for game 2 as they did for game 1, something that I’m sure you’ll hear about on the broadcast as well (“the Jays had 56 different lineups last year so this consistency is nice” or something like that).
It’s a strong lineup, and former Blue Jays insider Gideon Turk summed up the benefits of it nicely:
The reason you build a super offense isn't so the team can score 9 runs every game, though that is nice.— Wins and Flosses (@WinsAndFlosses) April 2, 2021
It's so your top 3 hitters in the lineup and your DH can go a combined 0-18 and the team can still win thanks to the other 5 guys who are above average players.
That was fully on display in Thursday’s game, as the 4-6 hitters combined for three straight singles to score the first run, a home run by Teoscar Hernandez got them a second, and an RBI double by Randal Grichuk finished things off.
Kluber on the bump in the Bronx. #SquadUp pic.twitter.com/dx8C477uOH— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 3, 2021
The Yankees are also going forward with the same lineup from opening day, and I’m sure Yankees’ fans will be quite happy to see Judge out there every day. They should be happy to see Stanton too, but the amount of hate that man gets in New York is depressing, and Yankee fans should be ashamed.
Gary Sánchez, another victim of Yankee fans’ ire, had a great game on Thursday, probably viewed as the lone bright spot for an otherwise sad home opener. He hit the two run home run, threw out a runner, and had an overall good game behind the plate. If he’s actually back to his pre-2020 self this year, that’s going to suck.
Early Season Heroes
Usually this is just a “yesterday’s heroes” bit, but with a lot of teams having either yesterday or Thursday off to make sure that opening day is fully monetized, we’ll look at the top performers from the past two days.
Eric Hosmer is off to a scorching start for the 2-0 Padres. Over 8 plate appearances, he is 6 for 7 with a pair of home runs and a double, drawing a walk as well. He has driven in 6 of his team’s 12 runs thus far, so we’ll call him the early season Monster Bat. Of course, doing that well will also help boost his WPA, and he is the early season WPA King as well with an 0.62 mark over the two games.
On the pitching side, John Means twirled 7 shutout innings against the Red Sox yesterday, which is more than enough for me to call him the Pitcher of the Day. He struck out 5 and didn’t walk a batter, surrendering just a single hit as the Orioles won 3-0.
Find the Link
Find the link between Gary Sánchez and Adalberto Mondesi.