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Game #71 Preview: Kikuchi vs Burnes

Blue Jays (40-30) vs Brewers (40-33)

Toronto Blue Jays v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their series in Milwaukee, playing the second of three against the home town Brewers. The game is scheduled to get under at 4:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Yusei Kikuchi will go for the Jays, making his 14th start of the season. He will be looking to turn his season around, mired in a pretty big rut over his last 6 games. In that span, he has thrown just 22.2 innings, finishing 5 innings just once. He has allowed 18 runs on 28 hits, but the big numbers are the 14 walks in that span and the 7 home runs. His 7.15 ERA comes with a similar 6.91 FIP to match.

That stretch has pushed his season numbers to a 4.94 ERA and a 5.53 FIP. The one positive note in his numbers is that he’s striking guys out, with 61 in his 54.2 innings. But the walk rate and home run rate are terrible. Among the 114 pitchers with at least 50 innings, his 5.60 BB/9 rate is the worst, and his 1.81 HR/9 rate is the 9th worst. As such, he’s dead last in fWAR at -0.3.

Brewers’ Starter

As the Jays send out one of the worst starters in the league, the Brewers will send out one of the best in Corbin Burnes (however, when the Jays did this in the Kevin Gausman - Beau Brieske matchup, the Tigers won that game, so there’s hope!). The 2021 NL Cy Young winner, who took home the award with an 11-5 record and an MLB-best 2.43 ERA is off to a very similar start to his season this year, coming into play with a 5-4 record and a 2.31 ERA. The noticeable difference to last year though is that his FIP last year was also an MLB-best 1.63, whereas this year it has shot up to 2.91. The big difference there is allowing more home runs, as he already has allowed 10 this season after allowing just 7 all of last year.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Alejandro Kirk left yesterday’s game after getting hit on the hand with the follow through swing of Jonathan Davis. Kirk went for x-rays mid-game and the results for it came back negative. It’ll more than likely be swollen up a fair bit today. But Gabriel Moreno was always going to catch today anyway. The Jays are likely considering calling Zack Collins back up and optioning out Otto Lopez to cover for this injury. Expect to see Collins in the game as DH today.

George Springer was in the dugout yesterday and seemed happy after testing his elbow during some batting practice. He’s still day to day at this point, but could be back in the lineup today.

Cavan Biggio’s recent hot run has really turned his season around. He is now hitting .220/.373/.390, good enough for a 126 wRC+. That wRC+ sits sixth on the team, behind the trio of catchers, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer. More impressively though, his .373 xwOBA is third best on the team, behind Kirk and Vladdy.

Brewers’ Lineup

By Fangraphs’ tally, the Brewers are running three platoons, so expect to see a lineup that looks quite different against the left handed Kikuchi today. Rowdy Tellez, who did not have a good time against his former team last night, Omar Narváez and Jace Peterson will all likely be on the bench. They’ll probably be replaced by Keston Hiura, the recently activated Mike Brosseau and catcher Victor Caratani.

Hunter Renfroe has now missed two straight games due to a calf injury, allowing former Blue Jay Jonathan Davis some playing time. Renfroe is the team leader in wRC+ at 115 (among players who have played in at least half of the team’s games). He joins Rowdy (111), Willy Adames (108) and Christian Yelich (102) as the only ones with a wRC+ over 100 while playing in at least half of the team’s games this year.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Alejandro Kirk, with his 4-4 night including a home run, gets the Monster Bat award. A little known secret about the award is that it has a built in ice pack, so hopefully it’ll help Kirk out.

Germán Márquez threw 7.2 shutout innings yesterday, doing so mostly in a scoreless game. As a result, he racked up the WPA, taking home the trophy with a .462 mark. However, he walked 5 in the game, so this is his only award. The Rockies held on for the win for Márquez as well, beating the Twins 1-0.

The Pitcher of the Day award goes to Kyle Hendricks, who threw 7.1 shutout innings, allowing 5 hits and a walk. He struck out 6 on the day, and took home the win as his Cubs beat the rival Cardinals 3-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Corbin Burnes and Rollie Fingers.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant