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Game #21 Preview: Urquidy vs Kikuchi

Astros (10-9) vs Blue Jays (13-7)

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

After a successful first series of their three series homestand, the Blue Jays welcome in the Astros to open up a three game weekend series. First pitch tonight will come at the standard 7:07 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Yusei Kikuchi will get the ball for the Jays, still searching for his first win with his new team. On the season, Kikuchi is 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA over his 3 starts, totaling 12 innings. He has given up an unacceptable number of walks so far, giving up 10 including 5 in his last outing. He has also given up 11 hits, but has managed to spend the entire season so far dancing around danger.

Kikuchi faced the Astros in his last outing, and it was probably his worst outing of the year so far. He made it through just 3.2 innings, walked 5 and gave up 3 hits, giving up 4 runs (2 earned). He also gave up a home run to the left handed hitting Michael Brantley.

Astros’ Starter

José Urquidy will make his fourth start for the Astros in this one as well. On the season, he is 1-1 with a 5.52 ERA over 14.2 innings. He is getting knocked around a fair bit, giving up 18 hits, including a pair of doubles and 3 home runs. He doesn’t issue many walks, with just 2 given up so far, but he also doesn’t strike anyone out, with just 7 of those on the season. So the Jays will be putting a lot of balls in play today.

Urquidy faced the Jays his last time out as well, and he pitched a pretty good game. He made it through 5.2 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk, striking out 3. He allowed a leadoff home run to George Springer then not much else until Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. opened the 6th inning with singles.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Vladdy fouled a ball off the top of his right foot in an at bat on Wednesday night, and was out of the lineup yesterday because of it. He was reportedly ready to pinch hit in the 9th inning yesterday if the need arose, and is expected back in the lineup again today.

Teoscar Hernández is inching ever closer to his return from an oblique injury. He quite likely won’t be back today, but I don’t think the team has ruled out a return at some point this weekend.

Cavan Biggio is also likely nearing his return from the COVID-IL. He went down on Monday after the team had returned from Houston, so depending on how it’s going for him, he could be back soon.

Astros’ Lineup

Jose Altuve is still on the shelf with his injured hamstring. He is expected to start a rehab assignment this weekend, and be activated for Monday, after the Astros are out of town. So the Jays will not see Altuve at all this season.

In Altuve’s stead, Aledmys Díaz has gotten a lot of reps at second base and has not been doing well he’s hitting just .156/.240/.244 (52 wRC+) on the season.

Kyle Tucker had an awakening series this past week against the Rangers. He entered the series with a .127/.213/.236 (35 wRC+) line, but ended up going 6-13 with a pair of home runs and a double, driving in 9 runs. If his bat is finally going, this is a lot more dangerous of a team.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Andrew McCutchen went 3-4 with a home run and a walk, driving in 4 runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. He drove in all 3 of his Brewers’ runs, including the final two in the top of the 9th which gave his club the win. As a result McCutchen is also our WPA King winner with a .554 mark in the Brewers’ 3-2 win over the Pirates.

Alek Manoah’s 7 shutout innings nets him the Pitcher of the Day award. Manoah allowed just 3 hits and a walk, striking out 7 batters while also getting the win in the Jays 1-0 win over the Red Sox.

Find the Link

Find the link between Kyle Tucker and Steve Finley.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant