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Game #137 Preview: Matz vs Cole

Blue Jays (74-62) vs Yankees (78-59)

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

After a great opening salvo in yesterday’s game, the Blue Jays will continue their important four game series in New York taking on the Yankees. Today’s game gets underway at 7:05 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Steven Matz gets the start for the Jays, waking up to find that he has the high point in ERA among starters once again. His 3.80 mark is highest of the five, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of - the league average ERA for all starters is 4.31, so he’s half a run better than that. Instead, it’s a good indicator of just how well Matz and the rest of the staff have done.

Matz has faced the Yankees just once this year, and he had probably his best start of the season in that outing. Over a season high 6.2 innings, Matz allowed just 1 run on 6 hits, striking out a season high 10 while walking none. Don’t expect that level of dominance once again, but don’t be surprised to see him mow some hitters down at a good rate again today either.

Yankees’ Starter

The Yankees will turn to ace Gerrit Cole to try and get things back on track for them. Cole enters play with a 14-6 record and a 2.73 ERA. His 14 wins pace the AL, while his 2.73 ERA is second only to Robbie Ray’s 2.60 (although Lance Lynn has fallen 4 outs short of qualifying again and has a 2.59 ERA). Cole also leads the AL in strikeouts (215), fWAR (5.2) and many other categories. By bWAR, his 5.6 mark falls in second place behind Ray’s 6.8.

This will be Cole’s 4th start of the season against the Jays, and he has been his normal dominating self in his first 3. Over 19.1 combined innings, he is 2-0 while allowing 5 runs on 12 hits, walking 4 and striking out 20. The Jays have touched him up for 3 home runs - one each from Teo, Biggio and Semien.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

George Springer looked a bit more unhealthy with each subsequent plate appearance yesterday, ultimately finding his way to the bench as he was lifted for pinch hitter Jake Lamb in the 9th inning. He’s clearly not 100%, but I don’t think we’re going to see an IL stint from him either. Maybe a day or two off, but he seems determined to be a part of a playoff push. If he’s not in the lineup, I hope Kirk draws the majority of DH days, although they’ll also want to use that position to give some other guys the occasional day off. Could even be today, while moving Vladdy to DH and getting Gurriel a start at 1B again.

The decision for starting catcher will probably depend on what they do with the DH spot. If Kirk is there, then expect Reese McGuire to be behind the plate. If they use the spot to give someone a half day off, then we’ll probably see Kirk in there to try and get as much offensive ability and strikeout avoidance into the lineup as possible.

If they do give Springer the day off (which I think they probably should, but I’m not a doctor) expect to see the outfield be Dickerson-Grichuk-Teo across the outfield, with Gurriel at 1B and Vladdy DH. Third base is probably Breyvic Valera, although Jake Lamb could draw his first start.

Yankees’ Lineup

Joey Gallo continued his Yankee struggles yesterday, striking out in all 4 of his plate appearances. He has now struck out in 40.4% of his plate appearances since landing in New York. With Anthony Rizzo falling well short of Anthony Rizzo numbers as well, the two big additions at the deadline that seemed to fit so well haven’t panned out yet.

On the “has panned out” side of things for the Yankees, both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have been healthy for them this year. After combining to play in just 171 of a possible 444 games in 2019 and 2020, they have now combined to play in 238 of 274 possible games. And they’ve been pretty close to their typical selves at the plate too, as Judge has a 148 wRC+ (career 150) and Stanton 132 wRC+ (career 141).

Another positive for the Yankees this year is the rebound from Gary Sánchez. Sánchez had an abysmal year at the plate in the shortened 2020 season, but he’s back to the player he was in 2019 - a heavy hitter with too many flaws to hit for a high average, but still a threat in the back half of a lineup.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Marcus Semien, with his 2 home runs and 5 RBI, gets the Monster Bat award. He was a big part of the Jays’ 8-0 win over the Yankees yesterday.

Nelson Cruz had a hell of a day in the crazy Red Sox - Rays game. Not only did he have the big go-ahead single in the top of the 10th, but he also hit an inside-the-park-grand-slam-that -was-called-an-error, plus an over the fencer home run in the 8th inning. He was credited with 3 RBI, but was also pretty much there for 4 more, and in the end, he does get the WPA King trophy. He put up a .634 mark, as he helped his Rays to the 11-10 crazy win over the Red Sox.

Max Scherzer went 8 dominant innings, allowing just an unearned run on 6 hits. He struck out 13 and walked none on his way to the Pitcher of the Day award, and his Dodgers beat the Cardinals 5-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Gerrit Cole and Hyun Jin Ryu.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant