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Game #153 Preview: Matz vs Pineda

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Blue Jays (85-67) vs Twins (67-85)

Toronto Blue Jays v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Blue Jays are currently looking from the outside in on the playoffs, half a game back of the Yankees and 2.5 back of the Red Sox, as the Jays kick off the final 10 day game stretch of the season. The Blue Jays head to Minnesota for a four game weekend series against the Twins, and will need to have a good weekend to help position them in the standings. Since the game will be taking place in Minnesota, there is a little bit later start time of 7:40 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Steven Matz will go for the Jays, making his 28th start of the season. Through his first 140.2 innings this year, Matz is 13-7 with a 3.84 ERA, a really good season from the back of the rotation that the Jays needed. For Matz, it’s his best season across the board since his 2016 rookie campaign, and comes at the best moment for his career, leading in to a Free Agency that should be very kind to him.

This will be Matz’ second consecutive start against the Twins. He looked great against them last Saturday, allowing just an early 2-run home run from Josh Donaldson before he started to dominate, getting 16 of the next 17 batters, before a walk and a single ended his night. In total, he threw 5.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5.

Twins’ Starter

Veteran Michael Pineda will get the start for the Twins, the final piece standing of what was supposed to be a strong veteran rotation to help fuel their playoff aspirations. Instead, Maeda went down for Tommy John Surgery while Berríos was traded to the Jays, and former Jays J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker combined to make 30 forgettable starts.

Pineda, for his part, is having a decent season. The 32 year old righty is 7-8 with a 3.74 ERA over 98.2 innings. He is posting his lowest strikeout rate (7.39 per 9 innings) since his sophomore season, but is being his normal self limiting walks (just 1.82 per 9 innings). Combined with a bit of elevated home run rate (1.46 per 9 innings), and his FIP checks in about half a run higher than his ERA at 4.27. So by that measure, he has been a bit lucky this year, and it’s maybe a bit out of character as he typically has a higher ERA than FIP.

Pineda will be making his second consecutive start against the Twins, having done so on last Friday and walked away with the win. He made it through 5.2 innings, allowing 3 runs (just 1 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks. He struck out just 2 and surrendered a bullet of a home run to Vladdy Jr.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Expect to Corey Dickerson in the outfield in this one. Across 19 at bats head to head, Dickerson has a .474 batting average against Pineda, with a pair of home runs. He and George Springer, who has a .429 average over 21 at bats, have great familiarity with Pineda.

Both Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal played in yesterday’s rain shortened game in AAA, Biggio in CF and Espinal at 3B. One of both may be on their way to meeting the team in Minneapolis, but I don’t know how much to expect that. Jake Lamb probably gets himself another start at 3B tonight.

Behind the plate, I would expect we’ll see Danny Jansen getting the start. After catching two games in the series against the Twins last weekend, he didn’t start any of the three in Tampa Bay this week.

Twins’ Lineup

There have been a couple veteran additions to the active roster since the Twins left Toronto. Catcher Mitch Garver was activated from the Injured List after missing a month with a strained lower back. Defensive juggernaut Andrelton Simmons missed the series in Toronto as he elected not to travel out of the country with the team, citing working on his US Permanent Residency application.

Rookie Nick Gordon seems unlikely to be in the starting lineup against the lefty Matz. He did get the start against the Matz last weekend, but that was at SS and Simmons would be able to be there for this one. Look for Brent Rooker to be in the outfield in Gordon’s place.

Willians Asudillo got the start at 1B the last time out against Matz too. The absurdity of his plate outcomes has continued this year as well, as he has a combined 15 walks and strikeouts in 208 plate appearances this season. It has gotten even crazier since then too, as he has just 1 walk and 1 strikeout in his last 73 PA. If he could hit even a bit better, he’d be a really interesting player, but he’s batting just .240/.264/.385 this year.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Kyle Schwarber went 3-4 with a pair of home runs, a double and a walk, scoring 4 times and driving in 4 to take home the Monster Bat award. His continued run of success helped the Red Sox to another win, this time 12-5 over the Mets.

Chris Flexen continued his strong season in his return to North America, this time throwing 7 innings of 1 run ball in a big game against the Athletics. He earned the win, as he allowed just the 1 run on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8 to also take home the Pitcher of the Day award. The Mariners beat the A’s 4-1 to move 2.5 back of the Yankees for the final Wild Card spot, 1 up on the A’s and 2 back of the Jays.

Yimi García entered the game in the bottom of the 10th, tied with 1-out and the bases loaded. However, he proceeded to get a flyball that turned into a double play to get out of the threat, as Shohei Ohtani was thrown out at home. García then threw a scoreless 11th, setting himself up for the win as the Astros scored 4 in the top half to beat the Angels 9-5. García, for his efforts, gets the WPA King trophy with a pretty incredible .651 mark over just 1.2 innings and 13 pitches.

Find the Link

Find the link between Andrelton Simmons and Kellen Sweeney.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant