After a series win in New York, the Blue Jays head down to the Barn in Texas to take on the Rangers for 3 games, starting with the Rangers’ home opener this afternoon. Gametime is 4:05 ET, so get ready to skip out of work early.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Freshly acquired Steven Matz will make his first start as a Blue Jay, as the lefty gets the ball in game 4 of the season. Matz, who came over from the Mets in a January trade, will attempt to put his terrible 2020 behind him and start fresh in 2021. Last season in 30.2 innings, he went 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA. He did manage 36 strikeouts to just 10 walks, which is a pretty great rate for both, but it was the 14 home runs that did him in.
The 29 year old did manage to average a new high on his fastball velocity last year, averaging 94.5 mph after sitting a full mph below that for his career up to then. It’s a sinking fastball that prior to last year he got a lot of ground balls out of, and he will need that to start happening again in 2021. He’ll throw that fastball around half the time, with a curveball and changeup to complement.
Long time Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz will make his debut for the Rangers. The righty signed an incentive laden contract with the Rangers over the winter, and is also looking for the opportunity put 2020 behind him. The former all star made just one appearance, albeit a very terrible one, before being designated for assignment and spending the season at the alternate site. That appearance was for just 3.1 innings where he struck out 3, walked 4 and allowed 3 home runs.
The biggest concern with him last year was that he struggled to find any velocity on his fastball. After averaging around 95 throughout his career, his fastball was averaging just 90.5 mph throughout that start. This spring, both his 4-seamer and his sinker were both able to sit in the 93-94 range without a problem, easily touching and exceeding 95. So the concerns that plagued him in 2020 seem to be a thing of the past.
If the Rangers are getting the Folty of years prior, then he could turn out to be a bargain for them, and a potential trade deadline chip that a team like the Jays could be interested in. His all star season is obviously an enthusiastic ceiling, but expecting a season somewhere in the low-4.00 ERA range is probably a realistic expectation for him.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Overall, the Yankees’ pitchers did a pretty great job at holding this lineup down. Collectively they hit .206/.264/.343, striking out at a 26.1% rate. Just three batters had a good series - Vladdy, Grichuk and Teo, but thankfully that was enough to eek out the win. Now that the Jays have moved on to Texas, hopefully the bats can find a little more freedom.
I’m hoping that Grichuk can keep his hot start going a little while longer. He has looked great at the plate, drawing walks, working the count, and punishing mistakes. If he can have a few more of those type plate appearances this week, it’ll be hard to keep him out of the lineup once Springer returns, hopefully on Thursday.
On the other end of the spectrum, our lefties looked completely overmatched against the Yankees’, despite having the platoon advantage pretty much the whole weekend. Biggio and Rowdy combined to go 1-21, striking out 8 times and not really putting together a good at bat between the two of them.
The Blue Jays haven’t seen the Rangers since August 14, 2019. The only position players left on the roster from that series are Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino.
Notable additions to the roster since then include David Dahl, Nate Lowe and Brock Holt. Holt likely doesn’t play today against the lefty Matz, so we’ll probably see Charlie Culberson at 3B.
Joey Gallo is obviously the big name in all of this, and he is off to a great start to the season. He is 5-10 with 5 walks and a home run, but maybe most importantly, he struck out just twice in the series against the Royals - an impressive feat for a guy whose lowest strikeout rate for any amount of playing time in a Major League season is 35%.
Jared Walsh had a night to remember last night. He hit a 2-out go ahead home run in the bottom of the 5th, and then hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th, going 2-4 with a walk and driving in 4 runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. Of course, if you’re going to hit a pair of home runs that give your team the lead/win, then you’re going to have a good WPA as well, and that is indeed the case as he is also the WPA King with a .457 mark in the Angels’ 7-4 win over the visiting White Sox.
Julio Urías pitched well for the Dodgers, making it through 7 solid innings, allowing a run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6, good enough to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He also earned the win in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Rockies, completing the most predictable series win of the early season.
Find the Link
Find the link between Gallo and the American League walk issuing leader in 2010.