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Game #48 Preview: Giolito vs Gausman

White Sox (23-23) vs Blue Jays (27-20)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After a very successful road trip, the Blue Jays return home to welcome the White Sox into town. The first of three games goes this evening, with a 7:07 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Kevin Gausman will get the ball again for the Blue Jays, looking to continue his dominating season. Through his first nine games, Gausman is 4-3 with a 2.25 ERA, but an MLB-best 1.31 FIP and 2.7 fWAR. He just continues to do an amazing job keeping the ball in the yard, striking batters out with his nasty splitter, and keeping free passes to a minimum. On that last one, he has increased his walk rate significantly over the last few outings, after going his first five starts without allowing a walk, he has now walked a batter in four straight games, including a season high 2 in his last outing.

He has been dominant this year, and there’s no reason to think it’ll stop anytime soon.

White Sox’ Starter

It’ll be a battle of aces tonight, as the Sox send Lucas Giolito to the mound. Giolito’s season was interrupted earlier in the year due to a COVID-19 infection. He missed about 2 weeks, and as a result this will be just his eighth start of the season. But he’s having a good one, with a 3-1 record and a 2.63 ERA.

His FIP is a full run higher at 3.69, thanks to a well above league average home run rate of 1.43 per 9 innings. That rate is right in line with his career numbers, showcasing that as his real weakness. His ability to generate strikeouts remains great though, as he has struck out 51 batters in his 37.2 innings so far this year. His 577 strikeouts since the start of 2019 are the fifth most in all of baseball.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Somehow, somewhere, somebody turned on the switch for the Jays’ bats on that road trip, and it was fantastic to watch. They scored 38 runs over their 6 game road trip, and hit a remarkable .297/.418/.446 (145 wRC+) with runners in scoring position. As a result of the great week, they are no longer the worst team in baseball with runners in scoring position, just merely horrible. But they’re trending really hard in the right direction, and hopefully can hold the great results they’ve had so far.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had an unscheduled off day on Sunday prior to yesterday’s off day, reportedly with a sore left wrist. Also on the bench that day nursing an injury were Teoscar Hernández and Danny Jansen, each of whom were dealing with some hip discomfort. I’m expecting all three to be back in the lineup today, resuming their regular roles.

If all three are back, I would imagine that Alejandro Kirk would not be the one at the DH spot. Despite the lack of power, especially early on, Kirk comes into play with a 116 wRC+, and is hitting .324/.397/.471 (151 wRC+) in the month of May. Santiago Espinal has struggled mightily since being moved into a feature spot in the lineup, so it’s probably time to try someone else in the 2-spot, and it might as well be the guy leading the team in OBP.

White Sox’ Lineup

Much like the Blue Jays, the White Sox were expected to be a strong offense this season, and much like the Blue Jays, they have struggled to get going. They currently sit fourth from the bottom in runs scored, averaging just 3.63 per game. Collectively they’re hitting just .233/.290/.356 (89 wRC+). Their 6.3% walk rate is the lowest in baseball, nearly a whole percentage point below the second worst.

And to top it all off, their best player is headed to the Injured List. Tim Anderson, who has a .356/.393/.503 (163 wRC+) line coming out to 2.2 fWAR, has a strained groin and will miss a significant amount of time. The second best player, Luis Robert, is hitting .285/.319/.438 (122 wRC+) with 6 home runs and 6 steals, but is currently on the COVID-IL. He’s likely being added back to the roster this week though, as he has travelled to Toronto.

Of the eight other players who have had at least 100 PA for the White Sox so far, just two have a wRC+ over 100. Big boppers José Abreu (114 wRC+) and Andrew Vaughn (125 wRC+) have done well enough, hitting 5 homers each.

Hope is maybe coming soon, as slugger Eloy Jiménez is on a rehab assignment from his surgically repaired hamstring, but he has also had a setback over the last week, and doesn’t seem likely to be back for this series.

The rest of the roster consists of a group of hitters who are struggling mightily, not getting the BABIP love they have enjoyed in the past, and just in general looking lost at the plate. The talent is still there, but losing Anderson is a huge blow, and the rest of the crew needs to step up. There is likely a firing in the near future if it doesn’t.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Ryan Mountcastle went 4-5 with a home run and a double, scoring 4 times to take home the Monster Bat award. Mountcastle’s big game allowed the Orioles to embarrass the Red Sox 10-0 at Fenway Park.

Brad Boxberger came on in the 7th inning with none out and the bases loaded, with his Brewers up 2-1. He proceeded to get a strikeout and a double play to hold the lead, then pitched a clean 8th inning as well, and his Brewers went on to beat the Cubs 3-1. As a result of his great outing, Boxberger gets the WPA King trophy, with a very impressive .524 mark. Crossing the .500 threshold as pitcher who didn’t start or finish the game, or pitch in extras, is a pretty rare feat.

On the topic of rare feats, Framber Valdez threw a complete game yesterday, just the 8th such instance in 2022. He held the Athletics to 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out 7 and coming home with the Pitcher of the Day award. His Astros beat the A’s 5-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Luis Robert and Manny Ramírez.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant