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Games #28 & 29 Preview: Gaus/Strip vs Bieber/McKenzie

Blue Jays (16-11) vs Guardians (12-13)

Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Thanks to a rainout yesterday, we get a full afternoon of baseball today, with the Blue Jays and Guardians playing a full, traditional doubleheader. The first game is scheduled for 2:10 ET, and the second one will follow shortly after the conclusion of the first, usually about half an hour.

Blue Jays’ Starters

Kevin Gausman will get the ball for the Jays in the first one, and the Jays couldn’t ask for a better pitcher to open up a double header. Gausman is 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA on the season, but he has the best FIP of anyone who has started a game this year, coming in at an amazing 0.49, resulting in an MLB best 1.9 fWAR in the early going. He has gotten there thanks to an incredible start to his season in which he has yet to allow a walk or a home run to 122 consecutive batters. That streak will obviously come to an end at some point, but it has been incredible to watch him chew through the lineups thus far.

Getting the start in the second game will be Ross Stripling, who has stepped into the rotation quite nicely. He hasn’t recorded a decision this year, but he comes into play with a 3.79 ERA and an even better 2.81 FIP. He only has 15 strikeouts in 19 innings, but he also isn’t walking anyone or giving up much for home runs, with 4 walks and 1 home run thus far, helping lead to that great FIP. He’s still building up his work load, and has gone just 4, 4, 5 and 4 innings in his four starts, so the Jays will need some good bullpen work in the second game for sure. Hopefully Gausman (and the offense) can make things easier on the bullpen in the first game.

Guardians’ Starters

The Guardians will counter with their two best pitchers today, which gets us one of the best pitching matchups in the AL in the first game. Shane Bieber will go up against Gausman, bringing his 1-1 record and 2.45 ERA into action. Through his first 29.1 innings, Bieber hasn’t been getting the strikeouts that he is so accustomed to, setting down just 29 batters. He’s typically up near 12 strikeouts per 9 innings, so it’s surprising to see him at just 9 per 9 innings. But he has otherwise been great, with just 6 walks and 3 home runs allowed, both numbers better than his career normal levels.

Getting the ball in game 2 will be Triston McKenzie, the young right hander who is having the breakout season so many were expecting. Through his first 23.1 innings this year, he has 24 strikeouts against 7 walks and 1 home run, resulting in a 2.70 ERA and a very similar 2.86 FIP. He also made it through a season high 6.1 innings his last time out, so is fully stretched out and ready to go.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Teo is back as the 27th man today!!! He’s on the bench for the first one today, but he’ll be starting the second game, and then sticking around after the games today as someone else is sent out.

Guardians’ Lineup

Yesterday’s Heroes

Eugenio Suárez went 2-3 with a pair of home runs and a pair of walks while driving in 3 runs, earning himself the Monster Bat award. Despite his output, as well as a Jarred Kelenic 8th inning go-ahead home run, the Mariners still fell to the Rays 8-7.

The big blow in that Rays-Mariners game wasn’t the Kelenic home run, but rather the Manuel Margot 3-run home in the top of the 9th which gave the Rays the lead, one which they would hold on to. As a result, Margot gets the WPA King trophy with a .673 mark on the night.

Merrill Kelly continued his dominant start to the season, falling just an out short of a complete game last night, but still pitching good enough to take home the Pitcher of the Day award. He allowed 1 run on 7 hits, walking 2 and striking out 8. But after opening the 9th inning with a pair of strikeouts, he gave up a pair of singles before a walk ended his night, holding him back from his first ever complete game. But still a masterful performance, as his bullpen held the lead and the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies 4-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Shane Bieber and Justin Verlander.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant