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Game #68 Preview: Ray vs Zimmermann

Blue Jays (33-34) vs Orioles (22-46)

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As the Blue Jays limp away from Buffalo after completing their stupidest series of the year, they finally see a bit of light in their schedule as they hit the road, stopping in Baltimore to take on the Orioles for the first time this season. Game 1 of the 3 game weekend series gets underway at 7:05 ET tonight.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will kick things off with Robbie Ray on the mound. Ray will make his 13th start of the season, and he has been pretty great so far. He enters play with a 4-2 record and a 3.45 ERA. The biggest storyline for him, at least on the happy side, has been his ability to not walk guys this year. Through 70.1 innings, he has walked just 18, a 2.30 per 9 inning rate. His previous low for any season was 3.45, and his career average entering the season was 4.28.

Of course, there is an unfortunate storyline for him as well, and that’s the home runs. He has now surrendered 16 home runs this year, a 2.05 per 9 inning rate. Among the 66 qualified pitchers in baseball, that rate is the 3rd worst. He is also tied for the 2nd most overall, behind only Kyle Hendricks’ 19.

Orioles’ Starter

Getting the start for the Orioles is 26 year old lefty Bruce Zimmermann. This will be Zimmermann’s 12th start and 13th appearance overall. He’s done alright for the Orioles so far, sitting with a 4-4 record and a 4.83 ERA. However, the peripheral stats aren’t nearly as kind when reviewing his work, giving him a 5.11 FIP and an even 6.00 xERA. He has 53 strikeouts in his 59.2 innings, allowing 20 walks and 12 home runs. Nothing too out of the ordinary there, but nothing great either. But on the batted ball side, he is allowing a lot of hard contact, and that has been his biggest hurdle this season.

Zimmermann features a 4 pitch mix, leading the way with his 4-seam fastball that he throws about 42% of the time. It averages about 92 mph, and batters have hit it for a .414 average this year. His changeup is his second most used pitch, thrown about 25% of the time. It averages 85 mph, with not quite enough difference from his fastball. Ideally, a pitcher wants to be about 9-10 mph slower with his changeup. His other two pitches, his slider and curveball, he’ll throw somewhat rarely, although they have been his best pitches. He’ll use those to get outs as he works deeper in counts, so hitting the fastball is clearly the best way to beat his bendy stuff.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

There’s chatter that George Springer could meet the Jays in Baltimore, but I don’t think they’re true, nor do I think they make a whole lot of sense. He has played just 3 games now on his rehab assignment, with just 2 in the outfield. I’d like to see him play back to back games in the outfield before being activated, which I guess will happen on Sunday. I would give him a DH day again today, then 2 more games, and have him meet the team in Miami if he’s good to go. But I guess we’ll see.

The Jays should expect to get Jonathan Davis back today. He went on the paternity list prior to Tuesday’s game, and 3 games is the maximum that a player can be gone from the team. With Teoscar Hernández also on paternity leave, expect Davis to be starting in CF tonight.

The Jays purchased the contract of Jared Hoying and added him to the roster yesterday to cover for Teo’s paternity leave. It was a curious move, because I’m pretty sure his stay on the team will be very short, and they’ll probably want his 40 man spot fairly quickly. So I wouldn’t expect the 32 year old to be in the organization much longer. Maybe this was just a quick “we’ll let you see the bright lights, then send you on your way” type move? It all seems weird to me.

Orioles’ Lineup

The Orioles enter play with a team-wide .237/.301/.392 (92 wRC+), averaging 4.01 runs per game. As bad as all of those numbers sound (which they are bad) they don’t even fall in the bottom 5 of anything, which is just absurd to me.

While it has been rough for the Orioles’ bats this year, there are a few bright spots. The brightest one is Trey Mancini, coming back from stage 3 colon cancer to put up a .277/.356/.482 (131 wRC+) with a team leading 12 home runs so far. Joining Mancini in the “good” category is 2021 breakout star Cedric Mullins, who is hitting .315/.388/.514 (149 wRC+). Fomer Blue Jay Freddy Galvis rounds out the players on the team with an above 100 wRC+, coming in with a 109 mark.

On the Injured List right now is where we find Orioles’ legend Chris Davis. Davis is out for the season after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery. Richie Martin is also on the IL, but otherwise the Orioles have a healthy team.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Curt Casali went 3-5 with a home run and a triple, driving in 4 runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. Casali helped his Giants beat the visiting Diamondbacks (the easiest thing in the world right now) by a score of 10-3.

Shed Long Jr. hit a huge 1-out double in the bottom of the 9th last night, tying the game at 5, and putting the winning run at third. Kyle Seager punched him home for the Mariners’ walkoff 6-5 win over the Rays. Long had the big hit to set it all up, picking up the WPA King trophy with a .458 WPA on the day.

Charlie Morton threw 7.2 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and no walks while beaning a pair of batters, striking out 7 and taking home the Pitcher of the Day award. He also took home the win in the Braves’ 4-0 victory over the Cardinals.

Find the Link

Find the link between Trey Mancini and Steven Matz.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant