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Game #55 Preview: Manoah vs Keller

Blue Jays (32-22) vs Royals (17-36)

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

The Blue Jays continue their three game series in Kansas City this evening, playing their second game against the home town Royals. There’s a decent chance of rain once again this evening, but hopefully the scheduled 8:10 ET first pitch isn’t delayed again.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Alek Manoah heads to the mound for the Jays, looking to continue his dominant start to the year. He has now made 10 starts this season, with an AL best 6-1 record and third best 1.98 ERA. That ERA is a bit higher than it probably should be too, as his last start ended with a Matt Chapman mental error that should have saved him 2 earned runs, but instead resulted in his highest earned runs total in a start this year, when he allowed 3 ER over 7.2 innings instead of the 1 over 8 that he should have had.

Manoah has been consistent and dominant all season. Aside from a cold game on May 8 in Cleveland when his pitch count got run up early and he made it through just 5 innings, he has thrown at least 6 innings in every other start this year, pitching into the 8th inning in two of his last three starts as well. After walking 4 in his first game, he has just 6 total walks since, including 1 total in his last 4. He’s an exciting young kid, who seems to just keep getting better the more he pitches.

Royals’ Pitcher

The Royals will counter with one of their best young pitchers, sending 26 year old Brad Keller to the mound. Despite being just 26, this is Keller’s 5th season in the Royals’ rotation, and it’s going about normal for him. The 1-6 record is ugly, but that’s more of a bi-product of his team’s struggles, as his 4.15 ERA is over a full run better than the average Royals’ pitcher, and his 4.44 FIP is relatively good as well.

Keller isn’t going to get many strikeouts, as he has just 33 in his 60.2 innings so far this year. But the walks aren’t super likely either, having surrendered just 18 thus far, although he has given up 3 in each of his last three starts. The recent struggles are certainly a trend for him too, as he put up a 1.74 ERA in his first 5 starts, but has since put up a 6.67 ERA in his last 5.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Danny Jansen took a ball off the hand last night, and while the early indication is that it isn’t broken or anything, x-rays will determine that for sure today. Either way though, that is going to hurt really badly today, but he was also scheduled for an off day anyway, as Alejandro Kirk will be catching Manoah.

Don’t be surprised to see both Raimel Tapia and Cavan Biggio back in the lineup today, after the Jays rolled with their full-righty lineup against lefties the last two games.

After a rough month of May (88 wRC+, after a 113 wRC+ in April), Santiago Espinal has turned it on so far in June. In 27 plate appearances, he is hitting .417/.481/.875, hitting 2 doubles and 3 home runs, walking 3 times and striking out just 3. He hopefully has found himself a more steady home in the 6 spot behind Alejandro Kirk.

Royals’ Lineup

Andrew Beninitendi was out of the lineup yesterday, dealing with a tight calf that showed up on Sunday after he fouled a ball off his leg. It doesn’t seem like this is a long term injury. Rookie outfielder Kyle Isbel got the start last night, and don’t be surprised to see him get more work against another righty tonight.

Michael A. Taylor was the offensive star last night, literally the only Royal to reach base. He had a walk, and a pair of singles, on a night that otherwise everyone else was silent. It’s probably a more common feat than I think it is, but this type of game reminds me of the time Miguel Tejada went 4-4 against Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera while the rest of the Orioles went 0-27.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Eduardo Escobar hit for the cycle for the Mets yesterday, capping things off with a 2-run 9th inning triple, netting him the Monster Bat award. In total, he went 4-5, scoring 3 times and driving in 6, as his Mets beat the Padres 11-5.

Michael Wacha went the distance on a 3 hit shutout, holding the Angels off the board and limiting them to just 4 baserunners on his way to the Pitcher of the Day award. The Red Sox won the game 1-0, and pitching so long in such a tight game also gets Wacha our WPA King trophy, with a very impressive .813 mark.

Find the Link

Find the link between Michael A. Taylor and Alcides Escobar.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant