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Game #44 Preview: Ryu vs Ohtani

Blue Jays (23-20) vs Angels (27-18)

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

The Blue Jays head out to Los Angeles to open up a four game series against the hometown Angels. The first pitch tonight is a late one, set to get underway at 9:38pm ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Hyun Jin Ryu gets the ball for the Jays, making his third start since coming off the IL. He has looked a lot more like the Ryu of old since his nearly month long stint, putting the memories of allowing 11 runs in his first 7.1 innings behind him. In the 10.2 innings he has thrown since his return, he has allowed just 1 run on 10 hits and a walk, striking out 6. The lone run he gave up in those starts came off a solo home run. But he has looked great, his velocity is strong, and his command has been really good since his return.

Angels’ Starter

We’ll get treated to a Shohei Ohtani start first thing in this series, something that is exciting for fans, but maybe not so much for the players. Through seven starts and 38.1 innings, Ohtani has been excellent this year. He has 53 strikeouts against just 9 walks, allowing 3 home runs, and his total season numbers are now 3-2 with a 2.82 ERA, and a great 2.15 FIP. His biggest improvement this year is that he has managed to add a couple mph to an already good fastball, and he is somehow controlling it better than he has before as well.

This would also be a good place to remind/introduce people to the “Ohtani Rule”. Introduced this year, if a pitcher is also in the lineup, they can be there as the DH while pitching. If you watched the All Star Game last year, they did it then too. Essentially, if the starting pitcher is removed from the game, he is not removed from the DH spot as well, so he can continue to DH. So far this year, Ohtani is 4-11 with a pair of doubles after being taken out as a pitcher, so he seems pretty unaffected by pitching to be able to keep hitting.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The bats woke up for the first time in a long time on Tuesday, and it would be great to see them continue that success. It was really based on swinging at good pitches, a seemingly novel concept to the 2022 Blue Jays. But they very rarely chased out of the zone in that game, and it was so pleasing to watch, and obviously led to some pretty great results.

Danny Jansen had the biggest night on Tuesday with his two home runs, and he’s going to be back behind the plate to catch Ryu tonight.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has made just 2 starts in the last 5 games, dealing with a bit of a hamstring issue. He has also been struggling, so I’m sure the Jays are fine to just tell him to get it rested up and back to 100%. Unfortunately for the Jays, Raimel Tapia is hitting pretty poorly since Gurriel has been missing starts over the last 8 days or so.

Angels’ Lineup

Mike Trout is healthy and is putting up Mike Trout numbers. He is hitting .319/.425/.674, good enough for a 216 wRC+. His 12 home runs are the second most in baseball to Aaron Judge’s ridiculous 17. He’s healthy and back to his normal self, with one exception - he has yet to even attempt a stolen base. Through the 2019 season, he had 200 career stolen bases, but in the 129 games since, he has just 3 in 4 attempts. I wouldn’t be surprised if he cut back on the attempts in an effort to avoid further injuries, as he has missed a lot of time to injury recently. But he’s healthy now, and we get to enjoy watching one of the best ever.

Despite Trout’s great start, he isn’t the best hitter on his team so far this year. And no, that title doesn’t belong to the reigning MVP (Ohtani has a 122 wRC+) or their big FA signing prior to the 2020 season (Rendon has a 124 wRC+). No, the best hitter on the Angels so far this year has been right fielder Taylor Ward. Through 131 PA so far this year, he is hitting .370/.481/.713 (245 wRC+) with 9 home runs. He has walked (23) nearly as often as he has struck out (26), and really sets up the lineup nicely. However, he has also missed the last four games due to a shoulder/neck injury, and is questionable once again for today.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Harold Castro went 3-4, launching a pair of home runs to claim the Monster Bat award. Castro’s home runs came in the top of the 6th and 8th innings, with the second one tying the game at 2. That allowed the Tigers to beat the Twins 4-2 in extra innings, and also gives Castro the WPA King trophy with a .373 mark.

Erick Fedde threw 6 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out 6 to take home the Pitcher of the Day award. Fedde also got the win, as his Nationals beat the Dodgers 1-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Tim Salmon.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant