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Game #37 Preview: Velasquez vs Matz

Phillies (20-18) vs Blue Jays (20-16)

Toronto Blue Jays v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After a long and fairly successful road trip, the Blue Jays return “home” to Dunedin, and prepare to open a three game series against the Phillies. Tonight’s game is set for the later start time due to the sun, scheduled to get underway at 7:37 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Left hander Steven Matz will face a familiar foe, making his 13th career start against the Phillies, which will also be the 8th start of the current campaign. Through his first 37.0 innings, Matz is sitting with a 5-2 record and 4.86 ERA. He finally got himself back into the win column in his last outing against Houston, allowing 3 runs over 5 innings, allowing 8 hits including a home run. It was his first start of the season without issuing a walk, although in general he is allowing only 2.43 per 9 innings, so they haven’t been a big problem for him anyway.

Phillies’ Starter

The Phillies will go with right hander Vince Velasquez, who will be making his 5th start and 8th appearance overall. The 28 year old Velasquez, who once seemed like he would be a solid contributor for a long time with the Phillies after coming over from the Astros, has struggled mightily the last few seasons. Since the start of the 2017 season, a span of 393.2 innings, he is 20-28 with a 4.94 ERA, getting hurt by both walks and home runs. The walks are an even bigger problem recently, as he has allowed 16 in his 23.2 innings this year.

Velasquez is a very fastball heavy pitcher, throwing his 93.2 mph 4-seamer on over half of his pitches. His main secondary offerings are his curveball and changeup, which he will deploy fairly evenly against lefties and righties. While his curveball is probably his best secondary, he is going to get more strikeouts on his fastball, which is fairly surprising given the average velocity that he gets with it.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The Blue Jays have returned to the safe haven of an American League ballpark, which means that we get the return of the designated hitter. I would guess that today we see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. get the start at DH, while Rowdy Tellez gets back into the lineup at first base.

Reese McGuire has started 3 of the last 4 games behind the plate, and is 3-8 with a hbp and a walk so far this year. He is already taking starts away from Danny Jansen, although Jansen’s hitting is a bit better now that he has broken his hitless streak.

Phillies’ Lineup

Superstar catcher J.T. Realmuto was place on the COVID-IL yesterday, showing symptoms of an upset stomach and fever. It doesn’t sound like he has received a positive test result, but I think there is a chance that we don’t see him this weekend. If he is indeed out, that’s a big blow for the Phillies. He currently leads the team in WAR at 1.8, and his 157 wRC+ stands second to Bryce Harper’s 168.

Outside of Harper and Realmuto, the Phillies are seeing positive contributions at the plate from Rhys Hoskins (105 wRC+) Andrew McCutchen (109 wRC+) and Jean Segura (117 wRC+), while Alec Bohm (58 wRC+) and Didi Gregorius (70 wRC+) have had their early struggles. All of that adds up to a team wide 90 wRC+. They’ve scored 4.13 runs per game, putting them just outside the bottom 10 in the Majors.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Austin Meadows went 3-5 with a home run and a pair doubles, driving in 4 runs to take home the Monster Bat award. He gets an extra boost in voting, as he helped the Rays beat the Yankees 9-1.

Zach Plesac carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning yesterday, but lost it with a leadoff single, and then lost his shutout with a 2-run home run. He still gets the Pitcher of the Day honours though, and he also still got the win in Cleveland’s 4-2 victory over the Mariners.

Jack Flaherty worked 6 shutout innings in what was mostly a 1-0 game while he was on the mound, allowing him to build up a very strong WPA of .389. He gets the WPA King award with that mark, and also took home the win, as the Cardinals’ bullpen held the line and beat the Brewers 2-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Alec Bohm and Joe Carter.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant