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Game #26 Preview: Cortes vs Kikuchi

Yankees (18-6) vs Blue Jays (15-10)

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

The Blue Jays will look to avoid the sweep at the hands of the Yankees tonight, as they wrap up their 10 game homestand and hit the road for 9 games tomorrow. Today’s game is set to get underway at 7:07 ET once again.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Yusei Kikuchi will be relied on to have his best outing of the season tonight. Things haven’t been going well for him thus far though, as he is 0-1 with a 5.52 ERA, only once pitching past the 4th inning in his four starts. He is getting hit fairly hard, although the number of hits aren’t piling up, as he allowed 15 in his 14.2 innings. But it’s the walks that have been the most detrimental to his season, with 13 given up so far.

Kikuchi faced the Yankees in his season opening start, and it didn’t go terribly, although that was the start he picked up his only decision on the season. He went 3.1 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out just 2. Aaron Hicks’ home run accounted for 2 of the runs, the only 2 of the 3 he allowed that were earned runs.

Yankees’ Starter

Nestor Cortes gets the ball for the Yankees, and the soft tossing lefty will look to continue to his great start to the season. Through his first four games and 20.2 innings, Cortes is 1-0 with a 1.31 ERA and a very similar 1.43 FIP. He has 28 strikeouts to just 3 walks and 1 home run, and has also surrendered just 15 hits. He’s getting soft contact and keeping hitters well off balance.

Cortes opened his season against the Jays as well, and had a very strong outing, although cut short due to a shortened workload in the spring. He went 4.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, including doubles to Springer and Chapman, but didn’t allow a run or a walk. He struck out 5, and baffled Jays’ hitters all night long.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Don’t be surprised to see a bit of a shakeup here in an attempt to get them going. I’m not sure what it’ll look like, but Bo Bichette is at least starting to heat up and probably keeps his spot at the top. Springer has also been hitting well lately, but beyond those two, nobody who has at least 10 PA has a wRC+ over 100 over the last week.

Teoscar Hernández started his rehab assignment in Dunedin yesterday, and went 2-4 with a home run and a double. He likely meets the team in Cleveland tomorrow. He won’t be able to help them out today though.

Cavan Biggio remains on the bench and unactivated from the COVID-IL. I’m still not sure what the plan is with him, but I doubt they’d activate him to face a lefty. Expect Vinny Capra to get a start today.

Yankees’ Lineup

They finally had their big inning yesterday, exploding for 6 runs in the 7th inning. The Jays’ pitchers did a good job holding them down until then, but they looked more like the team that won 9 in a row coming in in that inning. They got contributions from all over the lineup, save for the catcher position which has been hurting them all season, and Monday’s hero Gleyber Torres also went hitless. Otherwise every starter had at least 1 hit, including 6 extra base hits.

Joey Gallo missed the game again yesterday with his groin injury, and with the lefty on the mound once again today, I would be surprised to see him in the lineup. The Yankees have an off day tomorrow, so they’d probably just give him two more days.

Behind the plate, expect to see Kyle Higashioka get the start. He and Trevino seem to be in a platoon, and Higashioka has been getting the starts against lefties, despite both being right handed hitters.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Matt Olson went 3-6, hitting a home run and a pair of doubles while driving in 3 and walking twice in a double header against the Mets, good enough to take him the Monster Bat award. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough as his Braves got swept 5-4 and 3-0.

Mike Zunino hit a game tying 2-run home run in the top of the 9th, and chipped in another single in extras after the game was already almost out of hand, all to give him the WPA King trophy. His total on the day was .384 as his Rays beat the Athletics 10-7, despite the Athletics being 2 outs away from a 5-3 win.

Carlos Carrasco threw 8 shutout innings against the Braves, allowing 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5, good enough for the Pitcher of the Day award. His game was the 3-0 Mets win over the Braves in the night cap of the double header.

Find the Link

Find the link between Kyle Higashioka and former Blue Jay Jeff Kent.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant