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Game #53 Preview: Alcantara vs Ray

Marlins (24-28) vs Blue Jays (27-25)

MLB: Game Two-Toronto Blue Jays At Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to June! That means that the Toronto Blue Jays of Dunedin have officially become the Toronto Blue Jays of Buffalo, as they open up Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo. As much as I am grateful for the Jays to be able to play there, I hope it is very short lived.

The Jays open a 2 game series against the Marlins this week, welcoming them in for a pair of games sandwiched between a couple off days. Today’s game is set to get underway at 7:07 ET, and I don’t think there are any weird sun angles that would require a later start time.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Robbie Ray, complete with tight pants and loud grunting, will be making his 10th start of the season. On the surface, he has been perfectly fine, putting up a 2-2 record with a 3.81 ERA. However, his xERA (4.56) and especially his FIP (5.12) paint a different picture, and ultimately give him a -0.1 fWAR on the season.

The reason for the high FIP is fairly simple - he has given up a lot of home runs. His 14 allowed are tied with Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs for the most in baseball this year, and while maybe you can discount a couple against the Phillies when he was pitching in the crazy wind with a 10 run lead or whatever it was, ultimately he is still allowing too many long balls. The strikeouts (60 in 52.0 innings) and amazingly the walks (just a 2.25 BB/9 rate - nearly half of his career rate) would put him among the top 50 pitchers in baseball, but the home runs are destroying him.

Marlins’ Starter

The Marlins will go with their Ace, right hander Sandy Alcantara, who will be making his 12th start of the year. Alcantara brings a 2-4 record with a 3.46 ERA. Through 65 innings, Alcantara has 64 strikeouts against just 20 walks, and has managed to allow just 7 home runs.

Alcantara has a pretty even 4-pitch mix, using his changeup the most, and it has been a huge weapon for him this year. He has gotten 26 of his strikeouts with it, and batters are whiffing on it on 37% of their swings. His next 2 pitches are a 4-seam fastball and a sinking fastball, both sitting in the upper 90s, with a 97.7 mph average for the 4-seamer and a 97.1 mph average for the sinker. This has allowed him to generate a lot of groundballs, sitting at a 51.8% rate this season. Finally, he has a slider that will get a whiff about as often as the changeup, and is in itself a pretty good weapon.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Cavan Biggio is eligible to be activated from the Injured List today, and by the way it sounds, he’ll be back in the lineup and ready to go.

If Biggio is healthy and ready to play the field, the Jays will be back to as full strength as they have been for a while (obviously still missing George Springer and Alejandro Kirk), and will be able to trot out a consistent lineup without having to rely on their overused bench bats.

The Blue Jays will probably be sad to see the month of May go away, at least on the offensive side. The Jays led all of baseball in wRC+ for the month with a 126 mark. Their .280 batting average was tops in the league, and they hit the second most home runs at 42 and scored the second most runs at 154.

Marlins’ Lineup

The Marlins are currently down two of their best players in Brian Anderson and Miguel Rojas. Anderson was having a bit of a down year this year, but had seasons over 3 WAR in 2018 and 2019, and was on about that pace last year if not for the short season. Rojas, who was very much a glove first guy at SS, but saw a huge breakout last year, and was carrying that success forward this year as well. Now they’re both sidelined for a while, and in Anderson’s case anyway, at least a couple months.

The Marlins are feeling the effects of injury in some of their active players as well. Jazz Chisholm Jr., the exciting young middle infielder with great power and speed (but questionable bat to ball skills), has been battling a sore ankle and hasn’t played in a week. There’s hope that he is good to go today. Starling Marte was dealing with a rib issue but was reinstated from the IL before the weekend. Adam Duvall has missed the last couple games with a side issue. Garrett Cooper, who will probably DH today, missed a couple games last week with an oblique injury.

On the happy, healthy and haven’t missed time trains are Jesús Aguilar and Corey Dickerson, both healthy and putting up batting lines that are about 10% better than league average. So it’s not all doom and gloom for the Marlins’ lineup.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Patrick Wisdom went 3-4 with a pair of home runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. Both he and Javier Báez had a pair of dingers as the Cubs beat the Padres 7-2.

Bradley Zimmer had a solid double header yesterday, driving in the tying run in the 6th inning to force extras in one game, and driving in the first run in the 2nd inning of the other game. All of this allowed him to become our WPA King with a combined .466 WPA, as Cleveland split the double header with the White Sox 3-1 and 6-8.

José Berríos went 8 very strong innings yesterday, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and no walks, striking out 6 and picking up the Pitcher of the Day award. However, he didn’t pick up the win, as his Twins took 10 innings to beat the Orioles 3-2, handing the Orioles their 14th straight loss.

Find the Link

Find the link between Jesús Aguilar and Josh Phelps.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant