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Game #34 Preview: Ray vs TBD

Blue Jays (17-16) vs Braves (17-17)

Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their long road trip, heading down to Atlanta for a three game stopover to play the Braves. The first game of the series is set to get underway at 7:20 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Robbie Ray, somehow magically riding a 3 game walkless streak, will make his 6th start of the season in this one. On the year, he is 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA over 28.2 innings. While his strikeout numbers are down from his typical dominance so far (29, pretty much 9 per 9 innings, while his career rate is over 11), his walk rate has now reached uncharted territory for him. He has walked just 2.83 per 9 innings, a rate that is nearly 1.5 per 9 lower than his career, and also over half a walk per 9 innings better than the league. Unfortunately for Ray, the home run rate isn’t good, so that is helping push his numbers a bit higher than they otherwise would be, as he has allowed 6 home runs already.

Braves’ Starter

Another case of a lefty getting the Blue Flu. The Jays rocked Drew Smyly for 6 runs in 4 innings on the strength of 3 home runs when they played him a couple weeks ago, so I can understand the concern. However, even with the off-day yesterday, they’re going to need to figure out a spot starter for today.

The spot starter seems likely to be young righty Bryse Wilson. Wilson comes into the game with a 1-2 record and a 6.75 ERA over 3 starts and 12 innings, struggling pretty handily so far. In his 12 innings, he has struck out just 6 batters, walking 5, and allowing 4 home runs. He has also allowed 18 hits, getting hit pretty hard while leaving too many pitches catching too much of the plate.

Wilson has a pretty even 5 pitch mix, which all starts with his 93.9 mph fastball, which he’ll throw anywhere from 30-40% of the time. Three other pitches, the sinker, slider and changeup, will get generally similar use, depending on the situation. That means that against the Jays’ righty heavy lineup, expect to see sliders more than changeups. His fifth pitch is a curveball, which he’ll probably use about as much as his changeup tonight, as he mostly uses it to try and get righties out.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

This game is being played in Atlanta, and it’s no longer 2020, so that means we get the stupid and boring pitcher batting rule. That’ll relegate Rowdy Tellez to the bench, and we’ll get to see Robbie Ray and his pants swing at bad pitches, and if he gets lucky, run the bases.

Without a DH spot, the lineup will be pretty much the same for all 3 of these games. Alejandro Kirk was Ray’s catcher while Kirk was still healthy, and Reese McGuire caught him his last time out, so don’t be surprised to see Reese get the start tonight. A lefty in Max Fried is lined up to go tomorrow, so going with Reese today probably makes sense.

Braves’ Lineup

The last time these two teams met, three catchers hit the Injured List between the two teams - Kirk for the Jays, Travis d’Arnaud and Alex Jackson for the Braves. That means they’ve had to go deep down their depth chart, but they at least had the depth in young and ready William Contreras (brother of Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras) and defensive grandmaster Jeff Mathis. Contreras has gotten off to a good start, coming into play with a 92 wRC+ over his 6 games, while Mathis is 0-3.

Johan Camargo, who was optioned out to the Alternate Site when the Jays last faced the Braves, was recalled yesterday and added to the bench.

The regulars for the lineup remain the same, with the amazing 1-2 punch of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman coming at you quick. They’ll be followed by Marcell Ozuna, who continues to struggle in the early going, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, William Contreras and Cristian Pache.

Yesterday’s Heroes

It was a pretty quiet day in the baseball world yesterday, but we still get a fairly worthy winner of the Monster Bat. Jared Walsh went 4-4 with a home run, double and walk, driving in 2 runs and helping his Angels to the 5-4 win over the Astros. The thin part of the field comes into play for WPA King, which Walsh also takes home with a .303 mark.

Walsh doesn’t get Pitcher of the Day though (he didn’t pitch, but he is an accomplished pitcher as well) as the award goes to Luke Weaver. Weaver spun a pretty good game, throwing 6.1 shutout innings, while allowing 4 hits and no walks and striking out 6. He also picked up the win the in the Diamondbacks 5-2 win over the Marlins.

Find the Link

Find the link between Johan Camargo and Christian Bethancourt (beyond the obvious one).

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant