Today marks a bit of a double holiday if you’re a Canadian baseball fan - it is Good Friday, so many of you have the day off work, and it is also Jackie Robinson Day, the day where MLB pays tribute to Jackie Robinson, now 75 years after he first broke into the league. The Blue Jays return home from a short trip to New York where they split a series with the Yankees, looking to pick up some momentum against the Athletics before hitting the road for one of the stupidest baseball schedules I’ve ever seen. After this three game homestand in Toronto, the Blue Jays will hit the road for 3 games in Boston and Houston, then return home to play those same Red Sox and Astros. But first, we’ve got an Athletics’ series to get through, and the first game gets underway tonight at 7:07 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
With a whole bunch of games bunched together with no off days, the Jays have opted to insert Ross Stripling into the rotation to give their rotation some extra rest. This will be Stripling’s third appearance of this young season, after pitching just an inning in each of his first two. If he can get through 3 or 4 innings, I’m sure the Jays will be happy with that performance, which also means we’re likely to see a few relievers take the mound as well.
Trent Thornton hasn’t pitched since Sunday, so he’s likely going to be expected to get a couple innings of work as well. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Stripling get the first time through the order, Thornton the second, and then piece it together for the rest of the game.
The A’s will turn to rookie right hander Daulton Jeffries, who will be making his second start of the season and fourth career start. He also had four relief appearances last year, but has spent most of his professional career as a starter. His first start against the Phillies was an interesting one, as he made it through 5 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. But he also allowed a lot of loud contact, with 5 balls off the bat over 100 mph, each of which resulted in at least one out.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
The Blue Jays will hope that their return home will help re-start the bats that found a lot of troubles in New York. In that series, they scored just 9 runs over the 4 games, getting shut out twice. Thankfully they got an amazing start from Manoah, and a monstrous game with the bat from Vladdy to split the series. Because otherwise they went a laughably terrible 3-30 with runners in scoring position over the 4 games.
Matt Chapman didn’t start yesterday, but should be expected to be back in the lineup for all three games against his former team.
Alejandro Kirk has caught back to back games, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit today. A 2-on, 1-off cycle could work out for him, and he’d be lined up to catch his normal Manoah and Gausman for next couple weeks with that setup. If I had to guess, I’d say the Jays are more comfortable with Tyler Heineman as the other catcher, with Zack Collins acting as an emergency catcher and bat off the bench.
I’m still not sure if we’re going to see more of Raimel Tapia or Cavan Biggio in the outfield with Teoscar Hernández on the IL.
There have been rumours that some Athletics won’t be able to make the trip into Canada, but considering the team should already be here and names haven’t been leaked yet, I’m not buying that. So until they’re actually named, we’ll assume everyone is here, and the Jays are facing a full Athletics team.
The A’s are off to a really good start with the bats, averaging 6 runs per game so far, which is the third most in all of baseball. They scored 31 runs in winning 3 games in their recent 4 game series in Tampa Bay, so it’s not like they’re running it up against a weak pitching staff either.
Leading the charge are 33 year old Elvis Andrus (183 wRC+) and 38 year old Jed Lowrie (152 wRC+). It’s not just the vets though, as just-barely-not-a-rookie Sheldon Neuse (164 wRC+) is also off to a very hot start.
On the other end of the spectrum are former Blue Jays Billy McKinney (50 wRC+) and Kevin Smith (-56 wRC+), who haven’t had a good time so far in their first 20 PA. Smith will likely continue to get his chance at 3B, but McKinney is more in a utility role getting time at 1B, in the outfield and at DH, mostly against righties. If he’s doesn’t start hitting, his playing time is likely at more of a risk than Smith’s, who they’re hoping will take the mantle at 3B.
Manny Machado went 5-6 with a home run, scoring 4 times and picking up the Monster Bat award. He and the rest of his Padres had a great day against the Braves’ pitching, winning 12-1.
Jonah Heim hit a grand slam in the bottom of the second, making him our WPA King in one of the earliest big plays that has ever garnered someone that award. The grand slam got his Rangers on the board 4-2, and they walked away with the game from there, winning 10-5 over the Angels. Heim, for his part, put up a .343 WPA.
Joe Musgrove threw 6.2 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and no walks while striking out 6 to take home the Pitcher of the Day award. He was also the benefactor of the Padres’ big offensive game against the Braves, and earned his first win of the season.
Find the Link
Find the link between Elvis Andrus and Austin Jackson.