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Game #74 Preview: Wacha vs Stripling

Red Sox (42-32) vs Blue Jays (41-32)

Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their series against the visiting Red Sox this evening. First pitch is the typical 7:07 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Ross Stripling continues his run in the rotation, making his 10th start of the year and 18th appearance overall. Through 52.2 innings, Stripling is 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA, and an even better 2.86 FIP, thus far exceeding all expectations placed on him.

The biggest change for him so far compared to his career numbers has been the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, a trend that’s probably not likely to continue. He has given up just 3 home runs all year, a 0.51 per 9 inning rate, well short of the 1.34 HR/9 rate of his career, and laughably short of the 3.21 HR/9 rate he was putting up with the Dodgers before the Jays acquired him. But even if the home runs regress back to the mean, Stripling is still pitching well enough this year that he can probably survive that.

Stripling faced the Red Sox back at the end of April, and had a very strong outing. He made it through 5 innings, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 7. He didn’t issue a walk or allow a home run in that start, something he has done in 4 of his 9 starts this year. Stripling took a no decision in that April 27 game, as the Red Sox blew the game open against the bullpen and the Jays lost 7-1.

Red Sox’ Starter

Veteran Michael Wacha gets the start for the Red Sox, making his 13th start of the year. He is having an unexpectedly great season so far, entering play with a 6-1 record and a 2.34 ERA. That’s where the good numbers end though, as his FIP is 3.97 and his xERA is 4.24. He isn’t getting many strikeouts (6.42 K/9), while the walk rate (2.62 BB/9) and home run rate (0.96 HR/9) aren’t quite good enough to compensate.

Wacha was the opposing pitcher to Stripling in that April 27 game, and Wacha also had a great outing there too. It was his first of three quality starts this year, as he made it through 6 innings while allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. He struck out 5 and walked 2 in that one, and kept the Jays’ bats in the yard.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

For the month of June, the Blue Jays as a team are hitting .283/.349/.508 (141 wRC+). That’s currently the third best month by any team in the last 10 years (August 2019 Astros at 142 and July 2017 Astros at 153), yet the team itself is an AL East worst 12-12 this month. The pitching this month has been horrible and the horribleness has also been very ill-timed.

Cavan Biggio finally got some more playing time in the outfield yesterday, garnering just his second start out there since coming back over a month ago. Prior to heading to the IL, Biggio made 4 of his 10 starts in the outfield. If the Jays are willing to play Biggio in the OF a bit more, there isn’t a need for both Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer on the roster.

Alejandro Kirk picked up another double yesterday, and also chipped in a bean ball, to raise his line this season to .322/.411/.525 (165 wRC+). That wRC+ is now 8th best in all of baseball, just behind the now-injured Bryce Harper, and firmly planted among the best players in the game today. Kirk probably isn’t catching today after catching each of the last two games, but hopefully he’ll be in the DH spot as Gabriel Moreno gets the start behind the plate. Kirk will be back catching Alek Manoah tomorrow.

Red Sox’ Lineup

The Jays’ pitchers were relatively successful at keeping the big three off base yesterday, limiting the trio of Rafael Devers, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts to a pair of hits and a walk over 12 PA. Devers’ AL leading 26th double in the 6th was harmless, while Bogaerts’ 9th inning single ended up allowing him to score the first run of the day for the Sox. In order to be successful today, the Jays’ pitchers will need to keep those three quiet.

Rob Refsnyder made the start in the outfield yesterday with Jarren Duran on the restricted list. I’m certainly not going to complain if they want to run out a guy with a career .232/.318/.323 (78 wRC+) in the leadoff spot again tonight.

Yolmer Sánchez is the roster addition for Duran’s departure, and the infielder likely gets a start either today or tomorrow. He used to be the White Sox’ starting second baseman and third baseman, so he has some experience around the infield, and could give some guys a half day.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Juan Yepez went 2-4 with a pair of home runs, driving in 5 runs to take home the Monster Bat award. His big day, along with runner up Paul Goldschmidt, propelled the Cardinals to the 9-0 win over the Marlins.

Maikel Franco hit a 2-out, 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to give his Nationals the 3-2 lead. That lead held, the Nationals beat the Pirates, and Franco walked home with the WPA King trophy thanks to a .496 mark.

Four different pitchers threw at least 7 shutout innings yesterday, but Chad Kuhl went the distance, and did so against the mighty Dodgers, so the choice for Pitcher of the Day is fairly easy. Kuhl made it through on 102 pitches, allowing just 3 hits and nothing else while striking out 5. The home town Rockies rode Kuhl’s gem to the 4-0 win.

Find the Link

Find the link between Rob Refsnyder and Jack Flaherty.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant