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Game #158 Preview: Cole vs Berríos

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Yankees (90-67) vs Blue Jays (87-70)

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays continue their series against the Yankees this evening, needing a win to keep reasonable hopes for the playoffs alive. The drama once again gets underway this evening at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays will look to José Berríos to get them back in the win column, leaning on their big mid-season addition. Berríos has been pretty much everything the Jays could have hoped for, and outdueling Gerrit Cole and the Yankees in the final stretch of the season would help solidify this as a good addition, with a year to go still on his contract.

Since the Jays acquired him, Berríos is 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA. Outside of a 3 start stretch in mid-August, he has pitched at least a quality start (6 innings, 3 earned runs), but has generally been even better than that in his other 8 starts. One place that he has struggled a little bit is in the home run side of things, having allowed a home run in each of his last 5 starts, and in 7 of his last 8. The Yankees have the power to keep this streak going, but as Berríos has shown, a solo home run isn’t going to ruin his outing.

This will be Berríos second outing against the Yankees, having only pitched against them 3 weeks ago in New York. In that outing, he made it through 6.2 strong innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 8. The two runs came on an Anthony Rizzo home run in the 6th inning, but the Jays scored a run in the top of the 7th and Berríos walked away with the win.

Yankees’ Starter

The Yankees will send Ace and Cy Young hopeful Gerrit Cole to the mound. This series will probably help a lot of voters break their tie between Cole and tomorrow’s starter for the Jays, Robbie Ray. Advanced stats, particularly FIP and it’s components, favour Cole. His 2.82 FIP leads the AL, just ahead of Nathan Eovaldi’s 2.83 (and you won’t be hearing anyone making a case for Eovaldi). Cole’s ERA sits second at 3.08, 40 points higher than Ray’s, and 40 points better than third place Berríos. All of these stats are of course among qualified pitchers, and there are 6 other pitchers that slot above Berríos, but do not have enough innings to qualify.

Cole comes into play with a 16-8 record, giving him the most wins in the league. His 237 strikeouts come in second behind Ray’s 244, but his K/BB ratio of 5.78 is the best in the league. Even on the home run side of things, where he has historically been very prone, he has put up his second best rate since coming to the AL.

In 4 starts against the Jays this year, Cole is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 23.0 innings. The loss came his last time out, when he allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out just 2 before leaving with an apparent injury after just 3.2 innings. Since and including that start, he is 2-2 with a 5.75 ERA. The biggest roughing up was at the hands of Cleveland, but he still struggled with walks (9) and ~only~ had 22 strikeouts in his 20.1 innings. With his last start of the season being today, the Jays have a great opportunity to end his season on a 5 start bad stretch, and help cement their own guy for the Cy Young.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

If the Jays are going to have success against the Cole, they’re going to need their sleeping giants to awaken. Vladdy, Springer, Gurriel, Bo, Grichuk, Espinal and Kirk all have a wRC+ below 80 in the last week, struggling together as they’ve won just twice in 6 games.

Vladdy in particular is really pressing, as he hasn’t had a hit since the third inning last Thursday, a stretch of 20 plate appearances where he has just 2 walks and no hits. He last drove in a run on September 19, and his last home run was the two days before that.

On the positive side of things, Corey Dickerson having a good stretch of games. He has a 6 game hitting streak going, and also has hits in 8 straight starts. With Gurriel limited to just DH duties, expect Dickerson to keep drawing the starts in LF against righties.

Yankees’ Lineup

As goes Judge and Stanton, so do the Yankees. In their current 7 game winning streak, the two of them have combined to hit .380/.450/.900 with 7 home runs, driving in 25 of the team’s 44 runs.

It obviously hasn’t been just them who have been doing well, but nobody else on the team even approaches what they have done in the last 7 games. But in that stretch, only LeMahieu, Gardner and Gallo have a wRC+ below 100, helping to set the table for the big guys.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Luis Robert launched a pair of home runs yesterday, walking once and driving in 3 to earn himself the Monster Bat award. He helped his White Sox to the 7-1 win over the Reds.

Both Charlie Morton and Walker Buehler threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks. But the edge for Pitcher of the Day goes to Morton, who struck out 10 batters against Buehler’s 5. Morton picked up the win in the Braves’ 2-1 victory over the Phillies, while Buehler got the win in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Padres.

Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand each pitched scoreless top halves of the 8th and 9th innings, respectively, in the second game of the Marlins-Mets double header, meaning that those were extra innings. Dylan Floro also pitched a scoreless frame for the Marlins in the bottom of the 8th. A scoreless frame in extra innings will get you .474 WPA (at least in this game), and as a result, we have our first ever three way tie for WPA King. The Mets won in the bottom half of the 9th, giving Hand the win in the game, and earning the sweep in the double header 5-2 and 2-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Aaron Judge and Mike Trout.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant