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Game #43 Preview: Gausman vs Hicks

Blue Jays (22-20) vs Cardinals (24-18)

Toronto Blue Jays v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images

The Blue Jays wrap up their short little two game series in St. Louis this evening, looking to avoid the two game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals. Gametime is once again set for 7:45 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Kevin Gausman will be tasked with holding the opponents to 1 run or less, as he looks to hold back the Cardinals enough for the bats to get him a win. Gausman is just 3-3 on the season, despite pitching to a 2.52 ERA and a Major League best 1.27 FIP.

Gausman’s FIP has been on the rise recently, but only because of the absurd low that it was at a few weeks ago. After going his first 35 innings without a walk, he has now issued a single walk in each of his last three starts. And after going 49 innings without allowing a home run, he finally allowed his first home run of the year in his last outing. But he still has ridiculous numbers on the season, with 57 strikeouts against 3 walks and 1 home run over 50 innings.

Cardinals’ Starter

Fireballer Jordan Hicks will take the mound for the Cardinals, and he will be making his seventh start and ninth appearance overall. This is Hicks first run in the rotation at the Major League level, gaining fame as a reliever with an average fastball over 101 mph. Now that he’s starting this year, that average has dropped down to 98 mph as he tries to pitch longer into the game. But among anyone who has started a game this year, only Hunter Greene, who the Jays just saw on Saturday, is averaging a faster fastball this year.

Hicks probably isn’t getting the results he or his club were hoping for though. Through 25.2 innings, he is 1-3 with a 4.21 ERA. He has a 4.43 FIP, despite a strong enough strikeout rate of 9.52 per 9 innings, and a good 0.70 per 9 inning home run rate. Alas, his problem lies in his command, as he has walked 15 batters already, the same problem that has plagued him throughout his young career.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The bats have somehow hit a new low recently in terms of hitting with runners in scoring position. Prior to the Mariners’ series, they were hitting an abysmal .185/.265/.297 (58 wRC+), far and away the worst line with RISP in baseball. They’re now just 3 for their last 40 with RISP.

Santiago Espinal saw a further bump up the lineup in yesterday’s game, making it all the way to 2-spot in the order. He chipped in a single and a bases loaded walk, spitting on some pretty tough pitches. He’s likely sticking in that spot for a bit longer.

Cardinals’ Lineup

Setting up for yesterday’s game, I forgot to go looking for Canadian Tyler O’Neill. O’Neill ended up on the IL last week with a shoulder impingement, but has been really struggling this year. He was hitting just .195/.256/.297 (62 wRC+), and even on defense, where he has won the last two Gold Gloves in LF, he is well short of his previous numbers.

Prior to yesterday’s game, Iván Herrera and Lars Nootbar were added to the roster, with Nootbar giving them another lefty bat that could find his way into the lineup against the right handed Gausman.

Herrera was added to replace Yadier Molina on the active roster, as Molina is headed to the Bereavement List. It sounds like this is to attend to his son who is going for surgery to repair an arm injury, which honestly I only thought “Bereavement List” meant someone had died. Hopefully the surgery for the young Molina goes well today.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Aristides Aquino hit a pair of home runs yesterday, earning himself the Monster Bat award. That is his second straight 2-hit performance since being called back up. Aquino’s big night wasn’t enough though, as his Reds fell 7-4 to the Cubs.

José Azocar came on as a pinch runner in the 7th inning, led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, and then walked things off in the bottom of the 10th with another single, all to get him the WPA King Trophy. His total WPA on the day was .421, as his Padres beat the Brewers 3-2.

Tyler Anderson threw 8 shutout innings, taking home the Pitcher of the Day award. He retired the first 16 batters he faced, and ultimately made it through his 8 innings while allowing just 5 hits and no walks while striking out 8 batters. He got the easy win too, as his Dodgers beat the Nationals 10-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Lars Nootbar and Wander Franco.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant