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Game #42 Preview: Berríos vs Mikolas

Blue Jays (22-19) vs Cardinals (23-18)

Cincinnati Reds v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

After one of the most deflating series victories possible, the Blue Jays hit the road on this holiday Monday, heading down to St. Louis to open up a two game series against the hometown Cardinals. First pitch tonight is set for 7:45 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

José Berríos gets the ball for the Jays tonight, making his ninth start of the season. He comes into play with a 3-2 record and a 4.83 ERA, and a very similar 4.73 FIP. But he is also coming off one of his best outings as a Blue Jay, when he threw 7 shutout innings against the Mariners. He certainly wasn’t perfect in that one, giving up 6 hits and a pair of walks, but he was still dominant. It was his curveball that was especially strong, his strongest weapon that certainly hasn’t been there as much this year as he has needed it.

Cardinals’ Starter

Veteran right hander Miles Mikolas gets the ball for the Cardinals, making his ninth start of the season as well. Unlike Berríos though, Mikolas is off to a great start to his season, coming into play with the same 3-2 record, but a 1.68 ERA which is the second best in the NL. His 2.83 FIP is a fair bit higher than his ERA, but still a very strong number, thanks to his great ability to limit walks and home runs. Only Kevin Gausman has been better in both stats than Mikolas, and we all know how well Gausman has been this year.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The Jays’ had a golden opportunity over the weekend to get their bats going, facing off against the Majors’ worst pitching staff. Instead, they scored just 7 runs on 13 hits over their three games. I’m not generally one to be calling for coaches’ jobs, and while there’s a lot of talk about Guillermo Martinez’s job being on the line, I’d look more at the newly developed Hitting Strategist position. It’s occupied by someone that probably should have been fired a couple years ago in Dave Hudgens (of the Astros garbage can banging fame), and a lot of the Jays’ issues have been on the strategy front of hitting as opposed to the skill side. We’re now over a month of dreadful results with the bats, and a shakeup is going to need to happen soon.

As for who is playing tonight, I don’t think there will be any real surprises. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has had a few days off over the last couple weeks with some hamstring and bat troubles, but he’ll likely be in the lineup again tonight. Expect Raimel Tapia to continue finding at bats as well.

Cardinals’ Lineup

The Cardinals feature one of the Majors’ best offences so far this year, coming into the game tonight with the third highest runs per game at 4.88. As a team, they’re hitting .256/.325/.401 (112 wRC+), leading the Majors in lowest strikeout percentage (19.0%) and most stolen bases (36).

The trio of Paul Goldschmidt (179 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR), Nolan Arenado (151 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR) and Tommy Edman (140 wRC+, 2.2 fWAR) are having better seasons than anyone on the Jays, and are leading the charge on offense.

Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina are enjoying their farewell tour together this season, although neither are blowing anyone away. Pujols’ 128 wRC+ is the highest it has been since his early Angel days, but any value he is giving by being 28% better than league average, he is giving back by not being able to play defense and being painfully slow on the bases. Molina is hitting poorly, and while he also painfully slow on the bases, he is at least still a premier defender behind the plate, and as a result continues to provide value.

Former Blue Jay Corey Dickerson is finding himself some playing time, and likely gets a start either today or tomorrow. But he’s also struggling this year and could find himself without a roster spot soon.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Albert Pujols hit a pair of home runs yesterday, earning himself the Monster Bat award. It was Pujols’ 62nd multi-homer game of his career, tying him with Alex Rodriguez and Hank Aaron for the 6th most multi-homer games all time. Pujols’ bat helped his Cardinals run all over the Pirates, beating them 18-4.

Alec Bohm had a 2-out, 2-run walk-off error, giving him the WPA King trophy with an assist. He gets the trophy thanks to a .645 WPA that won his Phillies the game 4-3 over the Dodgers, but it never should have been.

Sandy Alcantara threw a complete game yesterday, earning himself the Pitcher of the Day trophy. He didn’t allow any earned runs, but 3 unearned runs did cross the plate. But he did just enough, as his Marlins beat the Braves 4-3.

Find the Link

Find the link between Albert Pujols and Darren Daulton (Mo Vaughn and Torii Hunter were in between, if that helps).

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant