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Game #5 Preview: Roark vs Dunning

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Blue Jays (3-1) vs Rangers (1-3)

Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After picking up the win in while spoiling yesterday’s home opener for the Rangers, the Jays will look to make it two in a row in Texas. They play at 8:05 ET tonight, the first night game of the season.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Tanner Roark will get the ball, looking to re-introduce himself to Jays’ fans after an abysmal opening season in the messed up world of 2020. Through 11 starts as a Blue Jay, he put up a 6.80 ERA, and his FIP was right there at 6.53. He failed to generate strikeouts (7.74 per 9 innings, although right in line with his numbers over the last ~5 years). He failed to limit walks (4.34 per 9 innings, a new career high and about 60% more than his career mark). And he especially failed to limit home runs (2.64 per 9 innings, one of the worst rates in baseball).

If you’re taking a quick glance at his Spring Training numbers, they may not offer much hope at first. In his last outing against the Yankees, they completely shelled him and that ruined his numbers - 10 runs over 10.2 innings total. But over 10.2 innings, he allowed just 1 home run while managing to strike out 14 to just 3 walks. If he can find a way to bring those numbers forward from the spring, then maybe he’ll be able to hold a spot in the rotation.

Rangers’ Starter

The Rangers are at least expected to start the game with Dane Dunning on the mound. Dunning made it back to baseball last year after coming back from Tommy John Surgery in the Spring of 2019. He made 7 starts for the White Sox last year, and is now making his Rangers’ debut after coming over in the Lance Lynn trade this winter.

Dunning threw 34 innings last year, his first taste of the Majors, and managed a 2-0 record with a 3.97 ERA in the offensively challenged AL Central. He struck out 35 and walked 14, while allowing only 4 home runs.

Dunning is a sinker/slider guy who will mix in the occasional low-90s fastball, and will occasionally pretend he has a changup and curveball.

The expectation for Dunning is a short outing, perhaps just once through the order or so, then to move on to the bullpen, with Wes Benjamin expected to be the one that follows. Benjamin threw 31 pitches on Sunday, so I wouldn’t expect to see him throw many more than that today, which means we might be witnesses a full blown bullpen day by the Rangers.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I would imagine that Alejandro Kirk is going to be behind the plate today, getting the start after Danny Jansen took a foul ball off an open part of his knee yesterday. He’s currently listed as day to day, but I’m thinking that could change today.

Bo Bichette took quite a beating yesterday too. He took a breaking ball to the ribs, then also had a hard grounder eat him up. He would probably be forgiven if he wanted to take a day to let that swelling subside.

Also victimized by Kyle Cody, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. probably has a sore hand today, after taking a pitch off the fingers. It was a scary sight to see yesterday, but he did remain in the game, so there’s hope that he’s not too badly hurt from it. But he also might be on the bench as it may be hard for him to grip a bat today.

Rangers’ Lineup

Rangers’ top prospect Leody Taveras got the day off yesterday, but expect the switch hitter to be back in CF today. The 22 year old had a solid debut last year, although strikeouts do seem to be his problem, with a rate right near what one would expect from Joey Gallo. For Taveras, he doesn’t have the world beating power of Gallo, but he should be an excellent defender in CF, and will probably help carry his bat if his glove becomes great.

Charlie Culberson started at 3B yesterday, and struggled with some hot shots off the bats of the Blue Jays. He’s listed as a platoon player as it is, so probably don’t read anything into the Rangers’ treatment of him when Brock Holt starts at 3B today.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Nelson Cruz blasted a pair of home runs and a double, and then finished the 9th inning coming just short of getting his third home run of the day, but still manages to pick up the Monster Bat award. He drove in 5 of his Twins 15 runs, as they hung on for the 15-6 win over the Tigers.

Steven Matz, with his 6.1 innings of 2 hit, 1 walk ball and 9 strikeouts gets the Pitcher of the Day award. It’s always nice when the Jays get this award, a little star on their 6-2 win.

Danny Duffy was a close second in the Pitcher of the Day award race, but he did pick up the WPA King title. Duffy threw 6 shutout innings with a 2-0 lead, which helped him build up a solid WPA through the day, accumulating a total of .394 in the Royals’ 3-0 win over Cleveland.

Find the Link

Find the link between Dane Dunning and Rowdy Tellez.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs