The Blue Jays head to the non-domed confines of Camden Yards to open the final series of the year, taking on an Orioles team that just missed out on the playoffs. The Blue Jays’ magic number to clinch home field advantage for the Wild Card round is down to 2, but with rain in the forecast tonight, it’s possible they don’t get the opportunity today. Tonight’s wet game is set to get underway at 7:05 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
José Berríos will get the start for the Jays, his final tune-up before the playoffs, in which he figures to be the fourth starter who probably doesn’t see action until the ALDS. As the opening day starter, it was pretty much a given that he would pitch in a three game playoff series, but his rough year, plus some great years from a few other Jays’ starters, means that he has been moved down the pecking order. A 5.37 ERA over 166 innings will certainly have that effect.
Berríos will be pitching in Baltimore for the second time this season, and facing the Orioles for a fourth time overall. He has done well in his 19 innings of work, allowing 8 runs (7 earned) on 18 hits and 4 walks, striking out 13. He has allowed 3 home runs, one each to Adley Rutschman, Ryan Mountcastle and Rougned Odor.
Dean Kremer will get the start for the Orioles, pitching in his 22nd game of the season. All but one of those was a start, with the lone “relief” appearance being in a follower role behind the returning Tyler Wells in a game against the Jays about a month ago. It has been a strong season for the 26 year old righty, as he enters play today with an 8-6 record and 3.17 ERA. His FIP is a bit higher, coming in at 3.77 thanks to a very low strikeout rate, but it is salvaged a bit by much better than average home run and walk rates.
In 18 innings against the Jays this year across 3 games, Kremer has done quite well. He has given up just 7 runs (6 earned) on 17 hits. Surprisingly, he has walked 8 batters, which accounts for nearly a quarter of the walks he has allowed, despite it being just 3 of his 21 games. And home runs are nearly a similar story, with 2 of the 10 he has allowed this year have come at the hands of the Jays, one each to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Danny Jansen.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
After another big game yesterday, Whit Merrifield has bumped his numbers with the Jays up to .270/.317/.450 (118 wRC+), and has earned himself the top seed of the second base playing time depth chart. After struggling mightily in his first month+ with the Jays, he has finally taken off, getting hits in 10 of his last 11 games, with 4 doubles and 4 home runs in that span.
Merrifield has been the hottest in that span, but he’s certainly not the only one on fire. Teoscar Hernández has had a great last few games especially, going 7 for his last 9 with 3 home runs and 2 doubles. Danny Jansen has hits in 5 straight games, including 2 doubles and 2 home runs. But the quiet hot streak, at least to me, is George Springer, who has had multi-hit games in 5 of the last 7 outings with 4 home runs over that span.
The Orioles lost utility man Ramón Urías for the season last week, leaving the door open for regular playing time at 3B for Gunnar Henderson and at 2B for Rougned Odor. It’ll be interesting to see what the Orioles do with their infield for next season. Keeping the unsure bat of Urías as the starter up the middle with an already weak bat at SS in Jorge Mateo probably isn’t the best option, so they’ll likely look for an upgrade at 2B that’ll keep Urías as a utility player/backup.
In the outfield, the trio of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander have combined to put up 7.5 WAR this year, and while it’s lower than last year (thanks to a big drop off in production from Mullins), they’re still one of the better overall groups in the league.
Adley Rutschman will put in a final bid for the Rookie of the Year award. It’s a pretty tight race between Rutschman and Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez, but I think Rodríguez has the current edge.
For the second day in a row, Teoscar Hernández is the Monster Bat winner, this time going 3-4 with a pair of home runs and a single. The Jays won once again, this time by a score of 6-3 over the Red Sox.
Jake McCarthy collected a trio of hits, including an RBI single in the top of 10th, to earn himself the WPA King trophy with a .516 mark. But for the second day in a row, our WPA King didn’t lead his team to victory, as the Diamondbacks fell to the Giants 4-3.
Pablo López threw 7 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and 3 walks on his way to the Pitcher of the Day award. He didn’t get the win though, as it took quite a bit longer for his Marlins to beat the Brewers 4-3 in 12 innings, effectively eliminating their Wild Card Hopes.
Find the Link
Find the link between Cedric Mullins and Jorge Mateo.