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Game #130 Preview: Ellis vs Ray

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Orioles (40-89) vs Blue Jays (68-61)

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Fresh off their first series win in a couple weeks, the Blue Jays head home to Toronto to open up a three game series against the fledgling Orioles. Tonight’s game gets underway at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Cy Young contender Robbie Ray will get the start for the Jays, making the 26th start of his fantastic season. Through his first 152.1 innings, Ray is 9-5 with a 2.72 ERA, making now his 6th start in quest for his 10th win of the year. That stretch of winless (and also lossless) starts covers the whole month of August, where he has averaged 6.2 innings per start with 1.59 ERA, and a matching 1.78 FIP. He has been racking up the strikeouts (42 in 34 innings) walking very few (7), and has allowed just 1 home run in that span. He has been just about as good as any pitcher in baseball recently.

Ray has faced the Orioles just once this year, making the start back on June 18. In that one, he went just 4.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5. He allowed a home run to Cedric Mullins to open the game. He also threw a lot of pitches in that one, being removed from the game with 106 pitches.

Orioles’ Starter

Journeyman Chris Ellis will make the start for the Orioles, the second of his Orioles’ tenure. He has also pitched in one game this year for the Rays, and made one appearance in the Majors with the Royals in 2019. Otherwise, Ellis’ professional baseball career has been spent in the Minors, spending a good portion of it at AA and AAA since the start of the 2016 season.

Ellis made his Major League debut at the start of the season in 2019, throwing a shutout inning for the Royals as a Rule 5 draft pick (by the Rangers, moved to the Royals). He was returned to the Cardinals a little over a week later, then didn’t make it back to the Majors until a couple weeks ago with the Rays. He went 4.0 shutout innings against the Orioles and picked up his first career win. After that, he was Designated for Assignment, picked up by the Orioles, and was inserted into their rotation. He made a start against the Angels last week, where he allowed 3 runs over 3 innings. And now he’ll make his second start for the Orioles.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

There has been some chatter that George Springer will be activated today, hopefully bringing with him a much needed boost to this team. Springer injured himself on August 14, and since that game, the Jays have scored more than 3 runs just 4 times in 13 games. Oddly, they went 1-3 in games where they scored more than 3, and 5-4 in games they scored 3 or fewer.

If Springer is indeed activated, expect to see him get a lot of reps at DH for the next little while. Which means a lot more Palacios/Grichuk in CF, and a lot of that at the expense of playing time for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who should be playing every day.

The Jays are starting to run into a bit of a problem with too many guys that should be in the lineup ever day, coupled with an inability to get away from guys that shouldn’t be. I would be tempted to run Teoscar Hernández in CF, if it meant that both Gurriel and Dickerson could be in the lineup against righties. Sure, an outfield of Gurriel-Teo-Dickerson would be terrible defensively, but overall they’d be fine.

Kevin Smith hit his first career home run yesterday, but has otherwise looked fairly underwhelming at the plate. With Santiago Espinal down for a bit, hopefully he can take advantage of the playing time at 3B that should be all his, and he can start to figure things out a bit.

Orioles’ Lineup

The Orioles currently don’t have a position player on the Injured List, coming into Toronto at full force. For the offense, that means a top 4 of Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini. That quartet, led by Mullins and his 145 wRC+ and 4.9 WAR, represent a pretty solid turn through the lineup. Outside of those 4, though, things get bleak.

DJ Stewart, who would be the 5th or 6th best hitter on the team, will likely spend the entirety of this series acting as a pinch hitter, as he does not get the start against lefties, and that’s what the Jays will roll out there in each game. Instead, Austin Hays will be the one getting the reps, and he’s one of the best hitters in the league against lefties, checking in with a 142 wRC+ against southpaws.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Joey Wendle went 3-4 with a pair of home runs and a walk, driving in 6 runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. Wendle’s bat was a key ingredient in the Rays’ 12-8 win over the Orioles.

Yoshi Tsutsugo hit a 1-out, walkoff 3-run home run, a hit accounting for .814 WPA, to take home the WPA King trophy. His total for the day was .757, as the Pirates beat the Cardinals 4-3.

José Berríos was fantastic yesterday, but I have to give the Pitcher of the Day award to Anthony Senzatela. He threw 7 shutout innings against the Dodgers, allowing just 2 hits, a walk and a bean ball. He also took home the win as the Rockies beat the Dodgers in LA 5-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Chris Ellis and Jordan Romano.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant