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Game #58 Preview: Ray vs Rodón

Blue Jays (30-27) vs White Sox (36-23)

MLB: Houston Astros at Toronto Blue Jays Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After a rough series against the Astros in Buffalo, the Blue Jays hit the road, with their first stop in Chicago to take on the first place White Sox. Game 1 of the 3 game series gets underway tonight at 8:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Robbie Ray will get the ball for the Jays, bringing his 3-2 record and 3.57 ERA into the game. He continues to baffle the entire world by walking exceptionally few batters (for him), currently sitting at a 2.33 BB/9 rate, significantly down from his 4.16 career mark. His strikeout rate is right in line with his career rate still, sitting at 10.71 K/9 compared to an 11.11 career rate.

But it’s the home runs that continue to dominate his stats, even if the walks are the nice talking point. He has allowed 14 home runs in his 58 innings, just 1 fewer than the number of walks he has allowed. That 2.17 HR/9 rate is second highest in all of baseball among the 105 pitchers with at least 50 innings, only behind Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. Thankfully for Ray, 10 of the home runs have been solo shots, and the other 4 have come with just 1 runner on base, so he’s gotten away with it so far.

White Sox’ Starter

The White Sox will go with veteran lefty Carlos Rodón to open the series. Rodón is having a great year, with the high point being his no-hitter, after being non-tendered by the White Sox and re-signing with them over the winter. Now with 9 starts under his belt, Rodón is 5-2 with a 1.98 ERA, all of a sudden finding a way to strike batters out like never before. In 54.2 innings, he has struck out 80 batters, placing him 5th in the Majors among pitchers with at least 50 innings with a 13.17 K/9 rate. He entered this season with a career rate of about 9 K/9, so this is quite the transformation for him so far.

Rodón got roughed up a bit in his last start, just his second non-excellent start of the year. He allowed 5 runs on 9 hits over 6 innings, still striking out 8 and walking just 1. But he allowed 3 home runs in that game, accounting for half of his 2021 total. Prior to that start, he had a 1.29 ERA and a 2.03 FIP, so that game really shows up in his stats. The White Sox bumped him back a couple days to give him some time to recover from that one as well, as that game was back on May 31.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

With the lefty Rodón on the mound, we will probably see Santiago Espinal and Jonathan Davis in the lineup, with Joe Panik back to the bench, and one of the outfielders heading to the DH spot as Rowdy Tellez likely sits too. Rodón, even in this dominating year, is having more troubles with righties, carrying a .154 wOBA against lefties and a .249 wOBA against righties. Both are great numbers, but the righties are obviously doing much better against him. His career splits are .280 and .324, so it’s a common trend for him, and giving him at least 8 righties to face is a good strategy.

Whether there are 9 righties depends on the health of Danny Jansen. He left the game on Sunday with a hamstring strain, which is currently being called “mild”. He was supposed to be undergoing tests yesterday and today. I highly expect that he is not playing today, but if he’s good enough to not go on the Injured List, then Reese McGuire would start today. If he’s headed to the IL, Riley Adams would probably be the one to replace him, and there’s a chance his righty bat gets into the lineup.

One of the knocks on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s great season so far this year is his inability to hit while away from “home”, wherever that may be. In his games in Dunedin and Buffalo so far, he has an unfathomable .417/.517/.906 line, which translates to a 273 wRC+. On the road, he is hitting a much more pedestrian .259/.362/.444, good enough for a 127 wRC+, but certainly not the Ruthian levels of his home line.

White Sox’ Lineup

The White Sox enter play with a combined .254/.341/.408, good enough for the second best wRC+ in all of baseball at 113 and rank 7th in all of baseball in runs per game at 4.93. First place in wRC+ belongs to the recently departed Astros and their 118 mark, while the Jays sit third at 110.

The Injured List has robbed us of seeing two of the more exciting players on the White Sox in this series, as outfielders Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert are both on the shelf. But there are still plenty of exciting young players throughout their lineup.

Leading the charge is Yoán Moncada, hitting .294/.424/.431 (149 wRC+) and still living the life of an otherworldly BABIP god, a mode that he unlocked in 2019. That season, he put up the highest BABIP since Rod Carew in 1977, coming in with a .406 mark. Now he’s upped that to .417 in the early going, and if it wasn’t for a .315 mark last year, I’d believe he had figured something out. He still probably has, at least to some extent.

There are 3 players in their starting lineup with less than a year’s worth of Major League experience who are doing well. Yermín Mercedes (125 wRC+), Nick Madrigal (118 wRC+) and Andrew Vaughn (100 wRC+) are all names that you should be prepared to hear for a long time coming out of Chicago.

Yesterday’s Heroes

There were just 3 games in all of baseball last night. But that didn’t stop Max Stassi from having a good night to take home the Monster Bat award. Stassi went 3-4 with a home run and a double, driving in 3 runs to help his Angels beat the Royals 6-3.

Christian Arroyo gets the WPA King trophy, thanks in large part to the a 2-run single in the bottom of the 4th. His WPA for the game was a modest .193, as the Red Sox beat the Marlins 5-3.

I’ll give Ryan Weathers the Pitcher of the Day award, in part because he was the winning pitcher in the other game played yesterday. Weathers went 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 4. Probably the worst line we’ve ever had for a Pitcher of the Day award winner, but you play the hand you’re dealt. Weathers’ Padres beat the visiting Cubs 9-4.

Find the Link

Find the link between Yermín Mercedes and Mitch Nay.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant