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Game #71 Preview: Stripling vs Alcantara

Blue Jays (35-35) vs Marlins (31-40)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays head down to Miami to take on the Marlins for the back half of their home and home season series against their NL East opponent. Tonight’s game is set to get underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Ross Stripling will look to continue his renaissance, putting his streak of 5 successful outings on the line tonight. In that time, he has brought his season numbers to a respectable 2-4 record and 4.64 ERA, good numbers for a pitcher in the back of the rotation. This is reportedly thanks to an overhaul of his pitching, including helping to alleviate problems with pitch tipping. It has helped tremendously, and he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA since changing things up.

Marlins’ Starter

The Jays draw the top of the Marlins’ pitching rotation in these two games, starting with Ace Sandy Alcantara today. Alcantara is 4-6 with a 3.09 ERA, and an even better 2.86 xERA. FIP doesn’t quite view him that well, at 3.35, as despite his great pitches, he isn’t getting a lot of strikeouts to balance out the non-elite walk and home run totals. The “lack” of strikeouts (87 in 93.1 innings) is surprising, considering his phenomenal changeup and devastating slider, but hitters have been able to stay alive enough to get out with soft contact more than they otherwise probably should.

Alcantara faced the Jays earlier this month, getting the start on June 1 in Buffalo. The Jays’ bats were ready for him, scoring 4 runs on 9 hits over 6 innings, striking out just 4 times while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a home run off him. This was the game where Vladdy had 4 hits on 7 pitches, ambushing Alcantara for a first pitch double in the 1st inning, a first pitch 3-run home run in the 3rd, and a second pitch single in the 5th. I would imagine Alcantara has learned from his mistakes in that game.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The assumption has been that George Springer will be activated today. I still think that that will be true, although there hasn’t been a move yet. Jeremy Beasley was optioned on Sunday without a corresponding move, and while it might be for Springer, I doubt the Jays send out a pitcher to get Springer on the roster. With a pair of NL games, I would expect Rowdy Tellez to be the one heading out.

Speaking of the fact that we’re in a stupid NL ballpark, Ross Stripling gets to go out to the batter’s box. Stripling pitched for the Dodgers for a few years, so he is used to this stupidity, collecting a whopping 8 hits in 99 plate appearances in his career. He even has 4 RBI!

Jonathan Davis is currently on the restricted list after his wife gave birth to a son last week. I hope everything is going OK with his wife and new baby. Realistically for Davis, when he finally does get back after spending as much time as he needs with his family, he will quite likely be optioned down to AAA.

Marlins’ Lineup

The Marlins have a fairly full Injured List at the moment, as star third baseman Brian Anderson continues to sit out with shoulder problems, as he was also missing in the series at the start of this month. Joining Anderson since then are Garrett Cooper, José Devers and Corey Dickerson.

The offense is struggling overall, and having those guys on the bench isn’t likely helping. The Marlins are scoring just 3.96 runs per game this season (tied with the Yankees for 5th lowest), on the backs of a collective 91 wRC+.

They do have their bright spots though. Starling Marte is having a great season, despite missing some time with a fractured rib. Overall he’s hitting .318/.422/.504 (161 wRC+) and is hitting just as well since coming back from the injury as he was when he went on the IL. He will likely be a very well sought after outfielder at the trade deadline for anyone looking for outfield help.

Jesús Aguilar, Adam Duval, Jazz Chisholm, Jorge Alfaro and Miguel Rojas are all also having strong seasons, posting above average batting lines so far. Old friend Jon Berti is also close, posting a 94 wRC+ so far. So they’re a solid team with a lot of upside and potential, just not quite breaking through.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Yesterday’s slate was about half full, seeing 8 games across the league.

Jake Cronenworth went 2-4 with a home run and a double, driving in 3 to pick up the Monster Bat award. He helped his Padres cruise to the 6-2 win over the Dodgers.

Merrill Kelly pitched 7 strong innings yesterday, on his way to the Pitcher of the Day award. Kelly allowed 1 run on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 5 batters along the way. He also picked up the win, the first time a Diamondback has been able to say that in a while, as the D’backs beat the Brewers 5-1. That was their first since June 1, ending their 17 game losing streak. They’re an incredible 3-32 in their last 35 games.

Matt Shoemaker had a heck of game yesterday, pitching just a pair of innings in relief, but dancing out of the runner at second rule both times. He did so with a trio of strikeouts over his 2 innings, and picked up the win in Twins’ 7-5 win over the Reds. Shoemaker’s WPA King total was .628.

Find the Link

Find the link between Jorge Alfaro and Austin Hedges.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant