The Blue Jays return to Buffalo to kick off the second half of the season, welcoming the Texas Rangers into TD Ballpark. Hopefully everything is fine on the COVID front and everyone can play, but it will be the dominant topic for much of today, as a handful of Yankees, including Aaron Judge who was at the All Star Game, have tested positive. But if the Jays do play, the game is set to get underway tonight at 7:07 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Robbie Ray will open the second half of the season for the Jays, and he has earned it. Through his 17 starts and 100.2 innings this year, Ray is 7-4 with a very impressive 3.13 ERA. He has struck out 130 batters against just 25 walks, an incredible rate that puts him among baseball’s best. The home runs will happen, pretty much every game for him, but since he is doing an incredible job keeping runners off base, they will continue to be predominantly solo shots, and solo home runs aren’t going to kill a night.
Jordan Lyles goes for the Rangers, likely making one of his last starts for the Rangers. The veteran righty is a free agent after the season is over, and doesn’t figure in to the future of the Rangers’ organization. So expect at least some interest from teams, as Lyles has made 19 appearance (18 starts and a follow), throwing 96.1 innings with a 4.86 ERA. There’s nothing overly special about him, but for teams facing a depleted rotation, they could certainly do worse.
Lyles doesn’t have any standout numbers. His strikeout rate is quite low, just 7.10 per 9 innings (against a league average of 9.12). His walk is a bit better than average (2.80 vs 3.42 per 9 innings for the league). His home run rate is above average (1.59 vs 1.22 per 9 innings for the league).
Blue Jays’ Lineup
The Jays’ lineup finished the first half of the season tied for 4th with 5.10 runs per game, and also right there tied for 4th with a 110 wRC+. They had the second most home runs, hit for the second highest batting average, and a stat that many won’t believe - they had the second fewest strikeouts. And even better the projections for the second half have the Jays’ as the top offence in baseball, with 5.17 runs per game.
Expect the All Stars to continue to feature prominently in this lineup, as they have all season. George Springer has forced his way into the middle of their dominance, but short of adding a Joey Gallo or someone, the top 5 in the lineup will likely be the same in some order, barring injury.
If Reese McGuire is still on the big league club (Alejandro Kirk should be approaching being ready), then I would guess that he’s making the start tonight. I doubt that the Jays will want to DFA McGuire, so it seems likely that he’s on the big league club for a bit longer here. Kirk, who is on his rehab assignment and doing well with the Bisons, doesn’t have a timeframe that’ll force the Jays’ hand. If they want more time, he can just be optioned to AAA instead of being on rehab.
The aforementioned Gallo is the star here, but there’s a very good chance that he won’t be for long. The power lefty bat will be one the most sought after players this summer, and his new team should be pleased with adding him. So far this year, the second time All Star is hitting .239/.402/.522 (153 wRC+) with 24 home runs, coupled with great defense that has led to 8 defensive runs saved in RF.
Gallo doesn’t quite do things alone in Texas, as fellow All Star Adolis García is also having a good year. García earned his first All Star bid with a strong first half, hitting .270/.312/.527 (127 wRC+) while hitting 22 home runs and playing strong defense.
Beyond those two, Blue Jay killer Nate Lowe is the only other regular with a wRC+ over 100, sitting at 114. The lack of depth beyond the strong heart is why they’re 8th from the bottom in the Majors in runs scored at 4.10 per game.
Find the Link
Find the link between Nate Lowe and former Jays’ great Jesse Chavez.