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Game #47 Preview: Matz vs Kluber

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Blue Jays (23-23) vs Yankees (28-19)

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Blue Jays have escaped Dunedin and will now hit the road, stopping in New York to take on the Yankees for three games. The first game gets underway tonight at 7:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Steven Matz will go for the Jays, making his 10th start of the year. Through his first 48 innings, Matz is 5-2 with a 4.69 ERA, although his peripherals show us a better pitcher. His FIP is 4.09, while xERA has him even better at 3.84 thanks to a low walk rate (2.81 per 9 innings), more than a strikeout per inning, all while limiting hard contact against. Overall, he isn’t as good as he looked over his first few starts, but the pitcher he is for the Jays so far this year looks like some of the better times that he had with the Mets over the years.

Yankees’ Starter

Corey Kluber goes for the Yankees, also making his 10th start of the year, and coming off throwing a no-hitter his last time out. He’s having a great comeback year, already throwing more innings this year than the last 2 combined. In his 50.2 innings this year, Kluber is 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA, on the surface at least looking like he did back in his Cy Young years. But his strikeouts are down nearly a full K/9 from his career mark, while his walk rate is approaching double what he used to put up. His home run rate is close to his career levels, but he’s allowing more fly balls, so one would expect that to regress a bit.

Kluber faced the Jays twice already this season back in April, when he was still getting ramped up for the season. He threw just 4 innings in both outings, combining for 5 runs (4 earned) on 11 hits and 5 walks, striking out 9 times. The Jays hit 3 home runs in the 2 games, accounting for 3 of the 4 total that Kluber has given up this year. The home runs were hit by Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette and Alejandro Kirk.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Santiago Espinal and Jonathan Davis have each started the last handful of games since Cavan Biggio has been injured. Davis has been starting in CF and pushing another outfielder to the DH spot, keeping Rowdy Tellez on the bench. Espinal has been the regular third baseman, but is supposedly going to be in timeshare with Joe Panik, who has been active since Saturday but hasn’t played yet. Neither Espinal nor Davis are hitting, but their defense is good enough that they’re an acceptable stopgap.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who recently overtook the Major League fWAR lead, got over 3.0 WAR yesterday with a pair of home runs that set him atop the Major League home run leaderboard as well. I knew he had this level of power in him, but I honestly never expected him to lead the league in home runs, but I will sit back and enjoy this.

Yankees’ Lineup

The Yankees, who enter play with a 6 game winning streak and have a win in 12 of their last 15 games, still haven’t gotten to hitting like everyone expected. As a team, they have a 99 wRC+ on the season, and have scored the 4th fewest runs in the AL at 4.02 runs per game. The potential is there, they’re just not reaching it yet.

If there is one player on the Yankees who is living up to expectations so far, it’s Aaron Judge, and those expectations are quite high. He is hitting .308/.407/.571 (173 wRC+) with a team-leading 12 home runs. There are 3 healthy Yankees (Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres and Blue Jay killer Kyle Higashioka) around the 111 wRC+ mark, then no other starter tops DJ LeMahieu’s 99.

On the Injured List for the Yankees is a trio of outfielders in Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Ryan LaMarre. Hicks underwent wrist surgery last week, and will gone for a while. LaMarre just hurt his hamstring and will be out for a bit. Stanton took batting practice over the weekend, and there are reports that he might be activated today. If that’s the case, that’s another powerful bat in the middle of the lineup, as he’s hitting .282/.347/.534 (143 wRC+) with 9 home runs.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Fangraphs is a bit behind with all of their updates, so I’m going to guess on these.

I’ll give Vladdy the Monster Bat, because he hit 2 home runs and I don’t care what anyone else did.

Lance Lynn threw 7 strong innings yesterday, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks to earn the Pitcher of the Day award. He helped his White Sox beat the Cardinals 5-1.

Joey Wendle’s .411 WPA from the Rays-Jays game yesterday gets him the WPA King trophy.

Find the Link

Find the link between Aaron Judge (1x), Babe Ruth (4x) and Hack Wilson (1x). Bonus points if there are other guys too (post-1919).