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Game #152 Preview: Merryweather/Stripling vs. Patiño

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Blue Jays will go for their eighth straight series win, as they try to take two of three from the Rays in Tampa. The finale of this series gets underway a bit earlier today, set for a 3:10 ET. first pitch.

Blue Jays’ Pitchers

It would appear that Julian Merryweather will act as the opener today. He’ll probably go only one inning, but might get a second depending on his efficiency. The Blue Jays really need to get Merryweather back to where he was at the start of the year, when he was lights out dominating, striking out 7 of the 14 batters he faced. Since coming back from the IL a couple weeks ago, he hasn’t been as sharp, allowing a couple home runs and a couple walks while not striking out anybody in 3 innings. A scheduled, guaranteed inning for him is probably a good thing.

Following Merryweather will be Ross Stripling, who should be able to get the bulk of the innings. Stripling has pitched twice since coming back, and this outing will be on regular rest. He has built himself up a bit, throwing just 1.2 innings 11 days ago, and then getting up to 3.0 innings last week. He was touched up for 3 home runs over that span, as he looked more like the Stripling of early season as opposed to his last dozen or so outings before his injury. If he can give the Jays 4 or so solid innings, I think everyone will be happy.

Rays’ Starter

With Michael Wacha pitching in last night’s game, the Rays are just bumping up Luis Patiño to make the start today. Patiño last pitched on Friday, so he will be making a start on normal rest. For Patiño, this will be his 15th start and 17th appearance overall. Over 70.1 innings, the 21 year old righty is 4-3 with a 4.73 ERA, and a matching 4.69 FIP. Despite his upper 90s fastball and good slider, Patiño doesn’t get the strikeouts that you’d expect, with 69 so far. Couple that with mildly above average walk and home run rates, and you have a pretty accurate representation of his season.

Patiño has faced off against the Jays twice this season, with one good outing and one bad. His first start of the year was an opening assignment, and he made it through the order once over 2.2 innings, with the lone blemish being a walk to lead off the game. His next outing against the Jays went poorly, as he got rocked pretty hard at the beginning of July in Buffalo. Over 5.1 innings, he allowed 7 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and a walk, striking out 5. George Springer touched him up for a home run.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Alejandro Kirk has caught the first two games of this series, so it’s doubtful he’s in there today. He has been in a bit of a funk at the plate since the first week of September, as he has just 3 hits and 5 walks over his last 37 plate appearances, and is currently mired in an 0-16 slump. He’s another bat that the Jays are going to need to get going for the stretch run.

I’m not sure who out of Danny Jansen or Reese McGuire will get the start in this one. Reese has had just two starts this month, so I wouldn’t expect they’ll rely on him much.

In CF, the Jays have alternated between Randal Grichuk and Corey Dickerson for the last week or so, as they have faced off against a righty for about the 10th straight game. Dickerson was last night, so look for Grichuk to be in there today.

It’s somewhat a similar story at 3B between Valera and Lamb, and with Valera going yesterday, I’d say it’s 50/50 today, as Valera has been getting a few more starts. I haven’t hear an update on Espinal or Biggio lately, but maybe they’ll meet the team in Minnesota.

Rays’ Lineup

With the righty Manoah on the mound for the Jays yesterday, the Rays took the opportunity to rest a few of their regulars. Nelson Cruz, Taylor Walls and Randy Arozarena were all on the bench last night, and all three I’d expect to see back in the lineup this afternoon.

Yandy Díaz had a big game on Monday, going 3-4 with a homer and a double, driving in 3 while earning himself a start yesterday because of it. He ended up going 0-4 and had the lowest WPA in the game. He probably gets the bench today like he normally does against righties.

Austin Meadows seems to be stuck in the same rut that Kirk is stuck in. Both players have struggled a lot since September 8, have been splitting time at their normal position and DH, and have just 1 home run over the last 2 weeks. For Meadows, he has a couple more slap singles, but the Rays are going to be looking for more out of their middle of the order bat as they get ready for the playoffs.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Manny Machado went 3-5, launching a pair of home runs while picking up the Monster Bat award. It wasn’t enough though, as his Padres lost once again, falling to the first place Giants 6-5. Now at 76-74, the Padres chances of making the playoffs are pretty much gone.

Down 2-1 with two outs in the 10th inning, JT Realmuto hit the ultra-rare walk-off triple, helping his Phillies come back and beat the Orioles 3-2. The play itself was worth .796 WPA, and Realmuto wins the WPA King trophy with a .847 mark. The Phillies’ win keeps their playoff hopes alive, but only by a razor thin margin.

Josh Rogers threw 7.2 great innings last night, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 and taking home the Pitcher of the Day award. He also got the win, as the Nationals walked all over the Marlins 7-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Yandy Díaz and Juan Then.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant