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Game #91 Preview: Pivetta vs Stripling

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Red Sox (56-38) vs Blue Jays (48-42)

Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game 2 Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

After a great weekend against the Rangers, the Blue Jays welcome the Red Sox to town for the final series in Buffalo. The first game of the three game set gets underway this evening at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Ross Stripling will go for the Jays, making his 16th appearance of the season. Through 74.2 innings, Stripling is 3-5 with a 4.34 ERA. His ERA went up last time, just the second time in almost 2 months that his ERA deviated against the long term dropping that it was on, after reaching a 7.20 mark on May 19.

Stripling has faced the Red Sox twice so far this season, and both times it has gone poorly. In the start on May 19, he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits over just 3.2 innings. Then again on June 11, while in the midst of his current strong run, he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits over 5.2 innings, although 2 of those runs he bequeathed upon the bullpen, and Chatwood walked and wild pitched them in. He was otherwise strong in that one, but the May 19 start was ugly, including 3 home runs, one each to Enrique Hernández, Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez.

Red Sox’ Starter

Canadian Nick Pivetta will make his 19th start of the season, continuing the long line of pristine health in the Red Sox’ rotation. All 5 starters have made at least 18 starts, a seemingly impossible stat in the year of the pitcher injury across the Majors (although Tanner Houck has been inserted into the rotation now for some extra breaks). But if you’re looking for a reason as to why the Red Sox are in first place, a good place to start has been their ability to stay healthy this season.

Overall on the season, Pivetta is 7-4 with a 4.30 ERA. After opening the season strong and not losing a game, Pivetta is 2-4 with a 5.20 ERA since May 20. He is still generating a lot of strikeouts though, now up to 113 over his 96.1 innings of work. But it’s his walks (44) and hard hit balls against him that have been his biggest downfall this year.

Pivetta has made 2 starts against the Jays so far this year, and like Stripling, hasn’t had a good time. In 10 total innings, the Jays have managed 11 runs off 13 hits. Pivetta has managed 14 strikeouts across the two starts while walking 4, but has also surrendered 4 home runs - one each to Guerrero, Semien, Bichette and Biggio.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The right handed Pivetta probably means that Cavan Biggio is starting at third base. The addition of Breyvic Valera to the roster poses some questions as to how the Jays will use Biggio going forward. I don’t think anyone has been satisfied with his glove at 3B, but it’s hard to keep Biggio out of the lineup when he’s hitting like he’s able to and has been since coming back from injury. The battle probably more boils down to Santiago Espinal vs Grichuk or Gurriel, and right now the outfielders seem to leading that battle of playing time.

Behind the plate, with the righty on the mound, I would assume we’re seeing Reese McGuire get the catching nod today. The Red Sox are expected to go with 3 right handed starters in the series, so Danny Jansen will probably find his way into at least 1 of these games. McGuire’s bat has really come back down to Earth in July, as he’s now just 3-26, with a double and no walks.

Red Sox’ Lineup

The Red Sox lineup has continued to hit quite well since the start of the season, sitting with a group wide 103 wRC+. They’re led by the big bats in the middle - Xander Bogaerts (150 wRC+), J.D. Martinez (145 wRC+) and Rafael Devers (140 wRC+), although they’re getting a lot of input from guys like Hunter Renfroe, Enrique Hernández and Christian Arroyo as well.

Marwin Gonzalez went on the IL with a strained hamstring over the All Star break, and that has prompted the Red Sox to call up one of their top prospects Jarren Duran to cover CF. Duran entered the season as the 55th ranked prospect in all of baseball by Fangraphs (MLB.com had him at 86). He was having a great season in AAA, hitting .270/.365/.561 (142 wRC+) with 15 home runs and 12 stolen bases. He strikes out a fair bit, but also brings great speed to the table.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. went 3-6 in the double header, knocking out the Grand Slam and driving in 5 runs total to pick up the Monster Bat award. As we all know, the Jays swept the double header against the Rangers with a combined 15-0 score.

Will Smith hit a go ahead home run in the top of the 8th, then hit a go ahead single in the top of the 10th, adding up to a WPA King total of .691. However, he just wasn’t enough for his Dodgers, as they fell 6-5 to the Rockies in 10 innings.

Corbin Burnes made it through 8.1 shutout innings yesterday, good enough for him to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He allowed 5 hits and a walk while striking out 12, as his Brewers beat the Reds 8-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between J.D. Martinez and Marco Estrada.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant