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Game #54 Preview: Stripling vs Lynch

Blue Jays (31-22) vs Royals (17-35)

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Blue Jays hit the road for a two city tour, first stopping in Kansas City to take on the Royals for a three game set. The Jays are in the Central Time Zone now, so this is an 8:10 ET start.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Hyun Jin Ryu has found himself back on the IL with recurring forearm/elbow issues, so Ross Stripling will get some more work back in the rotation. This will be his sixth start already this season, and 14th appearance overall. Through 32 innings, he is 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA and a great 3.30 FIP. He is sitting not too far off his regular strikeout and walk rates, but is has been his fortune in allowing home runs thus far that has his FIP so low. After allowing more than 2 per 9 innings the last two seasons, he has allowed just 3 home runs in his 32 innings thus far, a rate of 0.84 per 9 innings. That’s definitely bound for some regression, but he has also been keeping the ball on the ground more this year, so hopefully the regression won’t hurt as much.

Royals’ Starter

Sophomore left hander Daniel Lynch will go for the Royals, making his 10th start of the season. Through his first 43 innings, he is 2-4 with a 4.81 ERA and a 4.44 FIP. He doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, coming in with an 8.16 strikeout per 9 inning rate. The home runs are a bit better than average at 1.05 per 9 innings. But it’s the walks that Lynch struggles with, allowing a well above league average 4.19 per 9 innings. Things have been going downhill a bit for him on the walk front recently too, as he has walked multiple per game over his last five games, resulting in 15 walks in his last 22 innings.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

I’m naïve to think it, but we could see the Jays run out the exact same lineup they had yesterday. Going up against another lefty should mean a right handed full lineup, while the three lefties find themselves on the bench.

Alejandro Kirk is going to catch Alek Manoah tomorrow, so it’ll be Danny Jansen behind the plate today, and hopefully that means Kirk is the DH. With the home run yesterday, Kirk has pushed his season numbers to .307/.389/.471 (147 wRC+). After going nearly a month without registering an extra base hit, he has really turned on the power the last month to get his slugging percentage that high. Going back to the date of his first extra base hit, he now has 13 (8 doubles and 5 home runs) with 11 walks to just 7 strikeouts over 93 PA. Just an absolute joy to watch with a bat in his hands right now.

Royals’ Lineup

The Royals enter play as the worst team in baseball with their 17-35 record, and also have the worst run differential at -81. Their offense certainly has a hand in that, coming in 5th from the bottom at 3.75 runs per game. Collectively, they’re not hitting horribly, combining for a .236/.299/.360 (90 wRC+). That 90 wRC+ ties them with the Orioles, ahead of five other teams.

Leading the charge for the Royals is Andrew Benintendi, who is having a great season. His .321/.384/.415 (134 wRC+) line should make him a very attractive trade chip over the next couple months. He has always (save for the 2020 season) been an above average hitter with passable to strong defense in LF. As a lefty bat and pending free agent, there will certainly be a lot of interest in him.

Rookies and top prospects Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez are the only other position players worth worrying over at this point. Witt, one of the best ranked prospects in all of baseball entering the season (number 1 by MLB Pipeline), has a 99 wRC+, but his power/speed combo is showing through with 7 home runs and 8 stolen bases in 50 games. Melendez is the Royals second best prospect, coming in in the top 50 or better on most lists. Through 28 games, Melendez has a .274/.343/.463 (131 wRC+) line, but is showing a lot more average than power than he was projected for. Something closer to a sub .250 average with an iso over .225 seems more likely going forward.

Witt opened the season at third base for the Royals, because they had defensive standout Adalberto Mondesi at SS. But Mondesi blew his ACL a little over a month ago and will miss the remainder of the season.

The Royals are also without the services of Cam Gallagher and Edward Olivares, both of whom are getting closer to a return. Gallagher began a rehab assignment last week, but with Melendez hitting well and Salvador Perez healthy, Gallagher would come back to be the third catcher at this point. But since the Royals’ DH spot seems to be consistently occupies by either Melendez or Perez, a third catcher probably makes sense.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Eugenio Suárez went 3-4, falling a triple short of the cycle, but still driving in 4 runs, good enough to pick up the Monster Bat award. His home run drove in their first run in the 4th. His single drove in the second run in the 5th, tying the game at 2. And his double drove in the fourth and fifth runs of the night, tying the game at 5 in top of the 9th. The Mariners would end up winning the game 6-5 over the Rangers in 10 innings, and Suárez gets the WPA King trophy as well with his .707 mark.

Ageless wonder Adam Wainwright threw 7 strong innings, allowing 2 runs on 9 hits, but still good enough to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He walked 2 batters, and remarkably didn’t strike anyone out, while his mound opponent struck out just 1 batter in his 7 innings of work. Combined, they struck out just 1 in 14 innings, the first time since June 28, 2011 that two opposing pitchers threw that many innings with no more than 1 strikeout. For Wainwright, it was also the first time he went 7+ innings without a strikeout since June 18, 2007. The Cardinals did end up winning last night, beating the Cubs 5-3 in 11 innings.

Find the Link

Find the link between Andrew Benintendi and Steven Matz.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant