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Game #61 Preview: Stripling vs Richards

Blue Jays (31-29) vs Red Sox (38-25)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Chicago White Sox David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays continue their road trip, heading to Boston to take on the Red Sox in a 4 game wrap around series. The first game is expected to get underway tonight at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Ross Stripling gets the start, looking to continue the success he has found since reworking his game. On the season, he is 2-3 with a 4.71 ERA, numbers that have improved greatly thanks to his last 3 appearances. In 17 innings, he has allowed 2 runs on 11 hits and 4 walks, striking out 14. He has been in the strikezone more often, getting better results on balls in play, and has been a real boost for the team since he has turned things around.

Stripling faced the Red Sox back on May 19, his last start before he got better. He had a very rough game, surrendering 6 runs in 3.2 innings. He allowed 8 hits, with 3 going for home runs, while striking 3 and walking none. Interestingly that was his only outing this year without allowing a walk, although when he was throwing such nice meatballs, it makes sense to not allow a walk. The home runs he allowed were hit by Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernández and J.D. Martinez.

Red Sox’ Starter

Veteran righty Garrett Richards will make his 13th start for the Red Sox. Through 65 innings, Richards is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA, and a 3.89 FIP to match. He is striking guys out at a below average rate (8.03 per 9 innings) while walking a lot (4.43 per 9 innings - his 32 total are the 4th most in the Majors). The one thing he is doing that is keeping his season on the rails is keeping the ball on the ground and in the ballpark, having allowed just 5 home runs thus far.

Richards has made a pair of starts against the Jays already this year, with one poor one (4runs in 4.2 innings) and one good one (2 runs in 6.2 innings). His total numbers come to 6 runs on 11 hits and no walks over 11.1 innings, striking out 7. He hasn’t allowed a home run to a Blue Jay this year.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Richards is a righty, so expect the left handed bats of Reese McGuire, Rowdy Tellez and Joe Panik to be in play.

There’s a really good chance that Cavan Biggio is activated today as well, which probably keeps Panik on the bench, although it could mean a night off for someone else too, considering the love that Panik is getting from Charlie Montoyo lately. It’s kinda warranted too - over the last week, Panik leads the team in hits, extra base hits, and times on base, all while striking out in just 2 of his 20 PA. Sometimes you just have to ride the gravy train until it’s out of gravy.

Red Sox’ Lineup

They haven’t really slowed down since the Jays last saw them, as they’ve gone 11-7 and scored 83 runs in that span. They ran into some good pitching performances from the Astros and Phillies to push that number down, but they were at their peak again last night, scoring 12 runs against the Astros.

The Red Sox have a virtually empty Injured List, one which contains no position players, only a pair of pitchers that were put on the IL before the season started. So they’re as full strength as anyone in baseball could possibly be, although both Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez did miss time over the last week with mild injuries.

Verdugo and Martinez join Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers as the heart of this lineup, as the 4 of them represent the only ones who have been full time to be above average with the bat. Christian Arroyo is also doing well (118 wRC+) since taking over the full time duties at second base.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Nelson Cruz went 2-2, including a walk-off home run off Aroldis Chapman, to pick up the Monster Bat award. Cruz’s day included 4 RBI, a double, a walk, a sac fly and a reaching on catcher’s interference, all in the name of giving the Twins the coveted win over the Yankees by a score of 7-5.

Zack Wheeler gets both the Pitcher of the Day award and the WPA King for his work against the Braves last night, although he didn’t pick up the win. He went 8 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and no walks while striking out 12. He was given a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th, but the bullpen blew it, they went to extras, and the Phillies walked away with a 4-3 win in 10 innings.

Find the Link

Find the link between Xander Bogaerts and José Fernández.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant