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Game #106 Preview: McKenzie vs Stripling

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Future Guardians (52-53) vs Blue Jays (56-49)

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays wrap up their series with Cleveland this evening, looking to take 3 of 4 in their second home series in Toronto. Tonight’s game once again is set to get underway at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Ross Stripling will make the start for the Jays, and like Matz yesterday, could be fighting for his opportunity to stay in the rotation. They both will be needed again next Tuesday in the double header in Los Angeles, but after that there is a start either could make that Sunday, followed by 2 off days in 4 days, which makes running a 6-man rotation after that point unnecessary. Obviously there’s a lot that can happen in the next 10 days, but that’s how the forecast lines up at the moment.

Stripling will be making 19th appearance of the season, bringing a 4-6 record and a 4.75 ERA into play. That ERA is right in line with his FIP (5.01) and his xERA (4.71), all numbers that are a bit too high for comfort. Through 85.1 innings this year, Stripling has 85 strikeouts against 26 walks, both decently strong numbers for a starter. It’s the home runs that are killing him though, with 19. There are 21 pitchers with at least that many, and none thrown fewer innings than Stripling. On a rate basis, among the 109 pitchers with at least 80 innings, Stripling’s 2.00 per 9 inning rate is 4th highest.

Stripling faced Cleveland once this year, drawing the first game of the double header on May 30. He was fantastic in that one, going 5 strong innings, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits and a walk, striking out 3. He allowed a home run to Josh Naylor in that one, who has since gone on the injured list a bad ankle injury (don’t look it up).

Cleveland’s Starter

Top prospect Triston McKenzie will make the start, his 15th of the season and 16th appearance overall. McKenzie is having a really rough time in his rookie season, currently sitting with a 1-4 record and a 6.11 ERA through 63.1 innings. His FIP is right there as well, sitting at 5.72, although his xERA is more than a full run better than his ERA, down at 4.91. Still not great, but a good sign for him.

McKenzie has mixed some good with a lot of bad this season, such as 79 strikeouts so far, and a couple of gems against his weaker AL Central opponents (including 7 innings of 1 hit ball against the Royals). But the bad has been too bad for him so far, including 45 walks and 14 home runs. Those home runs give him a rate of 1.99 per 9 innings - right with Stripling’s bad mark.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Another righty on the mound for the Jays means that they’re likely going to be going with Corey Dickerson in LF. This will likely be the first game that both Dickerson and Springer will be in the outfield together.

Speaking of Springer, he is absolutely loving hitting in Toronto. In the 6 games back home, he is now 14-26 with 4 home runs and 5 doubles, putting up can’t miss at bats every time he is at the plate. He has been an absolute treat to watch now that he has gotten fully warmed up for the season.

Breyvic Valera has made the last 2 starts at third base in the absence of Cavan Biggio, but I really expected Santiago Espinal to get the majority of the starts there. I certainly didn’t expect a platoon between the two, but with righties going the last couple days, it has been the switch hitting Valera drawing the starts. If they go with Valera again today against the righty McKenzie, then I’ll really start to think they’re running a straight platoon there.

Also looking more like a platoon and not a time share, Reese McGuire made his second straight start yesterday too. I’m sure Alejandro Kirk will be starting today.

Cleveland’s Lineup

Roberto Pérez was scratched from yesterday’s starting gig behind the plate with back spasms. They’re not typically something that causes a prolong absence, so there’s a good chance he’ll be back in the lineup today.

Oscar Mercado, who hit a home run off Jordan Romano in the 9th inning yesterday, may see his string of starts in the outfield come to an end. He’s listed as being in a platoon on Fangraphs, and the Jays will be sending out their first righty of the series. Both Bobby Bradley and Bradley Zimmer are listed as the left handed bats of platoons, so they’ll be in there against the righty today, although they were also in there against Matz yesterday as well.

Yesterday’s Heroes

George Springer, with his 4 hits including a home run and a double, plus 3 RBI, gets the Monster Bat award.

Rowdy Tellez hit a pinch hit 2-out 3-run home run in the 7th inning yesterday, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. The Brewers bullpen held the lead and walked away with the win over the Pirates, while Rowdy walks away with the WPA King trophy thanks to a .522 mark.

Steven Matz, with his 6 shutout innings, gets the Pitcher of the Day award. He allowed 6 hits and a walk, striking out 8.

Find the Link

Find the link between Triston McKenzie, Mike Papi, Lenny Torres and Tanner Burns.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant