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Game #57 Preview: Berríos vs Rodriguez

Blue Jays (33-23) vs Tigers (23-33)

Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their road trip this evening, stopping in Detroit to play a three game weekend series against the Tigers. They’re back in the Eastern Time Zone, so back to a normalish start time of 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

José Berríos will make his 12th start of the season, looking to continue the dominance he found in his last outing. Facing off against his former club, Berríos held the Twins to just 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out a career best 13 batters over 7 innings. The two runs came off a first inning home run, and after that he was on cruise control, looking like the pitcher who earned that $131m extension, but one we haven’t seen often enough this year.

That outing for Berríos brought his season numbers to 4-2 with a 5.24 ERA, and lowered his FIP to 4.71. His strikeout rate took a nice bump, but it’s still well over a strikeout per 9 innings below his career levels, and nearly 2 K/9 short of where he has been the last couple seasons. Couple that with the abundance of home runs he has allowed, and it’s fairly easy to see where he has struggled this year. The walks are at least right in line with his normal self though.

Tigers’ Starter

Rookie Elvin Rodriguez gets the ball for the Tigers, making his fourth start and fifth overall appearance of the season and of his career. Things have not gone well for him in his 16 innings, getting knocked around exceptionally hard by the Yankees his last time out. In 4.1 innings in Yankee stadium, he allowed 10 runs on 11 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4. He also gave up 4 home runs in that game, a rude and blunt introduction to the AL East.

Outside of that 4.1 inning start, he has had one good start against the Guardians (4 shutout innings), but has struggled otherwise. In 11.2 innings, he allowed 8 runs on 9 hits and 5 walks, striking out 10.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Blue Jays’ top prospect Gabriel Moreno is expected to join the team in Detroit. There hasn’t been an announcement of him being called up officially today, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not called up until tomorrow. Alejandro Kirk has caught Berríos all season with the exception of opening day, and will undoubtedly do so again too. So Moreno’s debut is likely coming tomorrow.

Matt Chapman has helped prove the importance of starting hot. Chapman very much did not have a good start to his season, and is hitting .222.312/.381 (99 wRC+) on the season. However, he has turned it on of late, especially over the last 3 weeks. He has just 3 hitless games in that span, and is hitting .302/.389/.413 (135 wRC+) with just a 19.4% strikeout rate, and has looked really solid with a bat in his hands. Couple that with his great defense, and he’s quietly turning his season into a pretty good one. He just crossed the 1.0 WAR threshold, and should eclipse the 100 wRC+ as well.

Tigers’ Lineup

The Tigers as a group have been horrible with a bat in their hands this year. Collectively they’re hitting just .221/.279/.321, giving them a Major League worst 74 wRC+. Their combined WAR of -2.1 is easily the worst in baseball, and the only team in the negatives. They’re scoring just 2.82 runs per game, a full half a run lower than the second worst team.

The Tigers have a fairly full injured list, especially on the pitcher side of things, but a few notable position players will be missing for this series as well. Outfielders Victor Reyes and Robbie Grossman started rehab assignments this week, and both could be back this weekend. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario went on the IL earlier this week and will miss the entirety of this series. And catcher Jake Rogers is out for a while still recovering from last year’s Tommy John Surgery.

Noted Blue Jays killer Austin Meadows joined the Tigers shortly before the start of the season, and is one of the only Tigers who is having a respectable season. He is hitting .269/.363/.352 (114 wRC+), but has yet to hit a home run in 124 PA. I have zero doubt in my mind his first home run comes this weekend though, as he is a career .302/.378/.580 against the Blue Jays, with 12 of his 70 career home runs coming at the hands of Blue Jays’ pitchers.

Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is having one of his better seasons of the last few years, hitting .297/.339/.384 (108 wRC+). This is the second last season of his 8 year, $248m extension, and the 39 year old seems intent on playing through to the end of it.

Top prospect and 2020 overall number 1 draft pick Spencer Torkelson has spent the entire season in the Majors, but given his production, he may not make the full season. Through 51 games and 183 PA, he is hitting just .190/.295/.310 (80 wRC+), hitting just 4 home runs and coming into play today with a -0.5 WAR. June has been especially hard for him, as he has just 2 hits in 24 PA.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Byron Buxton went 2-4 with a pair of home runs, driving in 4 to pick up the Monster Bat award. That wasn’t enough though, as his Twins lost to the Yankees again, this time by a score of 10-7.

Max Muncy hit a go ahead 2-run double in the 5th inning, followed by a 3-run home run in the 6th inning to pull away, helping to boost him to the WPA King victory. His .480 WPA was quite helpful in the Dodgers’ 11-9 victory of the White Sox. If you somehow missed it yesterday, the moronic Tony LaRussa had Trea Turner down 1-2, then decided to intentionally walk him to face Muncy, who then hit his big 3-run home run.

Shane McClanahan was quite dominant for the Rays last night, throwing 8 innings while allowing just an unearned run, surrendering just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 9. He outdueled Miles Mikolas, who also went 8 innings while surrendering just 2 runs, but McClanahan got the victory and gets the Pitcher of the Day award as well, as the Rays beat the Cardinals 2-1.

Find the Link

Find the link between Austin Meadows and Domingo Germán.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant