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Games #97 & 98 Preview: Ray/Matz vs Richards/Houck

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Blue Jays (49-47) vs Red Sox (62-39)

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
I might be in this picture
Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

After the rainout yesterday, the Blue Jays and Red Sox play 2 games today, with the first shortened game of the double header set to get underway at 2:10 ET, and the second scheduled for the regular 7:10 ET start. These are both 7 inning games, so maybe the Jays’ have a bit more of a chance.

Blue Jays’ Starters

Robbie Ray, who was supposed to start yesterday’s rainout, is slated to go in game 1 today. Ray is 8-5 with a 3.12 ERA on the season, and if the Jays continue to falter, there’s an outside chance that this could be his last start as a Blue Jay. I refuse to believe that’ll be the case, and we’ll continue to watch him dominate.

Ray has faced the Red Sox twice this season, including his last outing, and they have proven to be one of his tougher opponents so far this season. Through 11.0 innings, Ray has allowed 7 runs on 9 hits. He has struck out 14 batters against 4 walks, but has also allowed 4 home runs, one each to Hernández, Devers, Chavis and Bogaerts.

For the second game, the Jays will go with Steven Matz in his regularly scheduled spot and time. Matz is also 8-5 this season, but is over a full run higher in ERA than Ray, sitting at 4.34. Since coming back from the COVID IL, Matz had struggled pitching deeper into ballgames, but did manage to get a couple outs in the 6th inning in his last start. So he’s slowly building up strength and stamina again.

Matz has faced the Red Sox twice so far this season, and had one bad start (5 runs in 6 innings in May) and one good start (1 run in 5.2 innings right before going on the IL in June). In total, that’s 6 runs on 14 hits over 11.2 innings. He struck out 12, walked 4, and gave up a home run to Bobby Dalbec.

Red Sox’ Starters

Veteran righty Garrett Richards will go in game 1 for the Red Sox. On the season, Richards is 6-5 with a 4.99 ERA, mixing some great games with some really bad games. Unfortunately for him and the Red Sox, the bad games are becoming more frequent lately, and Richards could find himself out of the rotation when Chris Sale returns in the next couple weeks.

The Veteran Richards has already made 4 starts against the Jays this season, and comes into play with a 2-1 record and 5.64 ERA over 22.1 innings. That’s 14 runs on 26 hits, with 15 strikeouts and 13 walks. Until his last outing, he had managed to keep the Jays in the park, but they touched him up for 3 long balls in last week’s game - one by Vladdy in the 4th inning, and then back to back shots by Springer and Hernández to end RIchard’s night in the 6th.

Game 2 will be started by Tanner Houck, as the young righty has been inserted into the rotation to give the Red Sox starters a bit of breather through this tough stretch, giving them 6 regular starters at this point. Houck will be making his 4th start of the season, and 6th overall appearance. Through 18.0 innings, he is 0-2 with a 2.50, and has also managed to pick up a save, a 3 inning one in a 4-0 win over the Yankees.

The right handed Houck has 23 strikeouts against just 4 walks and 1 home run in his 18.0 innings, really good numbers that give him a 1.98 FIP. While he has looked better in his 2 appearances as a reliever, he’s still done well as a starter, even if he’s not yet stretched out. He has yet to pitch into the 6th inning, with his longest outing in the Majors coming on April 3 against the Orioles, where he went 5.0 innings. Even in the Minors this year, his longest outing is just 4.0 innings, so don’t expect him to go long into the night.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

With a pair of righties going for the Red Sox, I anticipate the lineups will be the standard new layout, with Springer in the leadoff spot and Vladdy batting second. It’s the optimal way to start things off, and I’m happy to see that the Jays have gotten to that point. Unfortunately they have only won once in the 3 games since they made the switch.

The only difference between the two games that I’m anticipating is at catcher, where Alejandro Kirk will catch in one game, and Reese McGuire will catch in the other.

Red Sox’ Lineup

Xander Bogaerts was out of the game on Monday, as he continues to deal with a sore left wrist. He was out of the lineup yesterday as well, but the expectation is that he’ll be back in there today. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in just 1 of the 2 games today.

With the pair of lefties on the mound for the Jays, expect the Red Sox to go with Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis in the lineup, likely sending Jarren Duran and Franchy Cordero to the bench.

Behind the plate, expect Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki to split the starts.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Austin Riley went 2-5 yesterday with a pair of home runs and 6 RBI, earning the Monster Bat award. He helped carry his Braves to the 12-5 win over the Mets.

Eloy Jiménez, in his second game back from injury, hit a huge 3-run home run in the 8th inning yesterday, giving his White Sox the 5-3 lead. The bullpen would hold it, and that was the final score in their victory over the Royals. For Jiménez’s efforts, he gets the WPA King trophy with a .481 mark, and the White Sox have gotten a whole lot more dangerous.

Brett Anderson threw 6 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 3 and taking home the Pitcher of the Day award. The former Blue Jay also picked up the win in the Brewers’ 9-0 shutout over the Pirates.

Find the Link

Find the link between Jarren Duran and Chance Sisco.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant