It’s playoff baseball time! The Blue Jays host the Mariners this afternoon, kicking off the three game Wild Card series that will determine who gets to face off against the Astros in American League Division Series. First pitch this afternoon is scheduled for 4:07 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Alek Manoah will be entrusted to start game one, earning the honour after one of the best sophomore seasons of any pitcher in Jays’ history. Across 31 starts, Manoah went 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA. That 2.24 ERA is the lowest of any starting pitcher in the entire Wild Card round, as the only pitchers who bested that number are either Justin Verlander, a Dodger or didn’t make the playoffs because they pitched for the White Sox. On the Blue Jays’ side of things, only the 1997 season by Roger Clemens produced a better ERA.
Manoah faced off against the Mariners just once this season, on July 9 in Seattle. It was a really strong start by him, as he went 7.1 innings while allowing 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 7. He did give up a season high matching 4 walks, something he did 5 times this season. But it wasn’t the walks that did him in. He opened up the 7th inning by allowing a single to J.P. Crawford before Carlos Santana took him deep for a 2-run home run. The Mariners would win that game 2-1.
The Mariners will go with mid-season acquisition Luis Castillo as their game one starter. Castillo came over from the Reds in a July 30 trade that sent four prospects the other way. On September 24, the Mariners were able to lock him up to a 5 year, $108m extension that will make him a centerpiece of their current contention window.
The Mariners definitely got themselves a good one too. He went just 8-6 this season, but he put up a 2.99 ERA over 150.1 innings, with a 3.07 FIP. His upper-90s fastball generated 10 strikeouts per 9 innings, while limiting walks to 2.69 per 9 innings and 0.78 home runs per. All three of those numbers are noticeably better than league average, which is why Castillo was able to put up the 15th best FIP in the Majors among 62 pitchers with at least 150 innings.
Castillo made one start against the Jays earlier this year, when he was still a member of the Reds. Like Manoah, he had a strong outing but ultimately took the loss in a 2-1 game. Castillo went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits with 5 strikeouts. He didn’t walk anyone, and he kept the ball in the ballpark. He gave up both of his runs on back to back RBI hits by Bo Bichette and George Springer.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Santiago Espinal has been activated from the Injured List, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has not been. Espinal takes the place of Otto Lopez, while Bradley Zimmer also didn’t make the roster on the position player side of things.
The man to watch out for will be leading it all off, as Julio Rodríguez is one of the most exciting young players in baseball, and just put up a season that rivals some of the best ever by a 21 year old. His .284/.345/.509 (146 wRC+) led the team, while he was just one of four players to have a 25-25 season (home runs and stolen bases).
Find the Link
Find the link between Luis Castillo and Patrick Corbin.