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Games #111 & 112 Preview: Matz/Stripling vs Rodriguez/Suarez

Blue Jays (60-50) vs Angels (56-56)

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays hit the road and head out west to open up a 4 game series in Los Angeles to take on the Angels. It’s a bit of a weird 4 game series, because the first game of the series is a makeup game from a rainout in Dunedin, so the Jays will bat last, but this is still technically an away game. Regardless, the Jays play 4 against the Angels, with 2 of them happening today, the first at 6:07 ET and the second scheduled for 10:07 ET tonight.

Blue Jays’ Starters

It would appear that Steven Matz is set to go for the first game tonight. Matz enters play looking for his 10th win of the season, trying to join Ryu and make the Jays the first AL team with a pair of 10 game winners this season. In total on the season, Matz is 9-6 with a 4.30 ERA, and an even better 3.83 FIP. He has looked very solid all season long, including a non-2020 best in strikeout rate (9.25 per 9 innings), couple with a lowest-since-his-rookie-year walk rate (2.43 per 9 innings) and home run rate (1.21 per 9 innings). All in all, he has been a really solid addition to this rotation.

Matz made one of the starts against the Angels back in Dunedin, and pitched really well in earning the win. He went 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 4. He gave up a home run to Anthony Rendon.

Game two starter will be Ross Stripling, who could be making his last start with the Jays for a while. He would appear to be the odd man out of the rotation, as the Jays no longer need to run with a 6 man rotation. It’s a tough break for Stripling, who enters play with a 5-6 record and a 4.43 ERA. Since he reworked his game back in May, he is even better with a 5-3 record and a 3.39 ERA. But he’s still allowing way too many home runs.

Stripling also faced the Angels in the series back in Dunedin, but things didn’t quite go as well for him. He allowed 4 runs on a 6 hits and a walk, striking out 5. He allowed a home run to Mike Trout in that one, which given what we know about Stripling’s home run struggles this year, I think giving up one to Trout is understandable.

Angels’ Starters

The Angels are expected to recall rookie Chris Rodriguez as their 27th man to make the start in the first game. This will be Rodriguez’s second start this season and 15th appearance overall. Over 25.2 innings, he is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA, striking out 27 while walking 13. He has yet to allow a home run this year.

Rodriguez is stretched out, having pitched out of the rotation in AAA for a decent chunk of the season. His last outing in the Majors came on August 2, where he went 6 innings on 86 pitches.

Rodriguez even has experience against the Jays in his short Major League time, getting into action in the April 9 game in Dunedin. In that one, he pitched 1.2 innings, allowing just a pair of walks and beaning Josh Palacios, but otherwise getting through unscathed.

The starter in the second game will likely be young left hander José Suarez. This will be Suarez’s 6th start of the season and 16th appearance overall. Through 50.0 innings, he is 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA, striking out 47 batters against 19 walks. He has allowed 7 home runs as well, a rate that puts him right in line with league average.

Suarez has been in the Angels’ rotation the last 5 times through, and has slowly built his innings up as well. He has thrown exactly 88 pitches in 3 of his last 4 starts, so he should be good to go for the 7 inning game.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

George Springer probably is sad to see a different stadium, after completely destroying the ball on the most recent homestand, and taking home the AL Player of the Week for the second week in a row. On that homestand in total, he hit .409/.449/.932 with 6 doubles and 5 home runs over 11 games.

Bo Bichette got the game off Sunday, his first of the season, after taking a foul ball off the shin. I would expect that the day off Sunday and the day off yesterday will be enough to get him back into action. But don’t be surprised to see him get some DH action in one of the games today.

With the double header today, and a righty in the first game and lefty in the second, look for the Jays to run out their entire lineup. Their 27th man is likely to be a reliever again, so the 3 man bench will all be in play. Against the righty, look for Breyvic Valera, Reese McGuire and Corey Dickerson to be in the lineup, while all three will probably be on the bench against the lefty.

Angels’ Lineup

Their Injured List is probably the most talented (and most expensive) at the moment. Currently missing time on the IL are Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Jared Walsh, Dexter Fowler and former Jays’ top prospect Franklin Barreto. Rendon, Fowler and Barreto are out for the rest of the season, while Walsh could be actually be activated at some point during this series. Mike Trout appears to be out for a few more weeks at best, as he is still dealing with calf problems.

Superstar Shohei Ohtani is obviously the big draw in this lineup, and he’ll be back in the lineup after being held to pinch hit opportunities as the Angels were without a DH in Dodger Stadium. But Ohtani will be back at DH and batting second for this series, at least until he pitches on Thursday.

Outside of Ohtani, the only other batter hitting noticeably above 100 wRC+ is catcher Max Stassi, who comes into play hitting .293/.371/.511 (144 wRC+) over 197 plate appearances, and will probably only play one of the two games today.

Former top prospect Joe Adell was added to the roster a week ago, and has been doing well in his short time. He is 7-22 with 4 doubles since being called up, and is maybe starting to show some of the skills that made him a top 10 prospect in baseball entering last season.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Eloy Jiménez went 2-4 with a pair of home runs and a walk, driving in 5 to pick up the Monster Bat award. He helped his White Sox to the 11-1 win over the Twins.

In a crazy back and forth game between the Yankees and Royals, where the Yankees ended up going 1 for 5 in save situations setting what I believe is the record for blown saves in a game, we have a plethora of WPA King candidates. Six different players had at least a .300 WPA, but the trophy goes to Nicky Lopez and his .476 mark. Lopez had a game tying single in the bottom of the 9th, plus another good single leading off the 8th. Unfortunately, the Yankees still came out on top 8-6 in 11 innings.

Lucas Giolito threw a gem yesterday, going 8 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits and a bean ball while striking out 8 to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. And he also got the win in the aforementioned 11-1 White Sox’ victory.

Find the Link

Find the link between Shohei Ohtani and Darnell Coles.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant