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Game #84 Preview: Lawrence vs Gonzales

Blue Jays (45-38) vs Mariners (41-42)

Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Blue Jays head to their home away from home in Seattle to take on the Mariners in front of tens of thousands of excited Blue Jays’ fans, kicking off a four game series this evening. Tonight’s game is set to get underway at 10:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Today would normally be slated for Kevin Gausman’s turn in the rotation, but he still isn’t good enough to pitch after taking the line drive off his ankle last weekend. So the Blue Jays are going to need to use a spot starter, and that appears like it will be 34 year old Casey Lawrence.

Lawrence has surprisingly already pitched 13 forgettable innings for the Jays so far, his first action in the Majors since 2018. Things haven’t gone super well for him in his mop up opportunities, as he has allowed 9 runs on 13 hits. His 9 strikeouts to just 3 walks is a decent enough ratio, but the 3 home runs he has allowed have definitely hurt him.

In Buffalo this year, Lawrence has really dominated. In 12 starts and 73 innings, he put up an 8-2 record with a 2.22 ERA. He struck out 65 against just 13 walks, a good ratio regardless of what level you’re pitching at. The Blue Jays are going to hope that this is the Lawrence they get today, especially the starter who is averaging over 6 innings per start.

Mariners’ Starter

Veteran left hander Marco Gonzales will get the ball for the Mariners. The 30 year old gotten some pretty mixed results thus far. In 87.2 innings over 16 starts, he is 4-9 with a 3.29 ERA. He has allowed 3 earned runs or fewer in all 9 of his losses, a pretty impressive way to get to leading the AL in losses.

His FIP, and fWAR, tell a very different story about his season. Thanks to a very low strikeout rate (5.03 per 9 innings, second lowest in baseball) and above average marks in both walks (3.29 B/9) and home runs (1.44 HR/9), his FIP on the year is 5.23. Thanks to that high FIP, and José Berríos’ good start yesterday, Gonzales has the lowest fWAR of qualified starters at -0.1.

This will be Gonzales’ second start against the Jays this year, having faced off against them back on May 18 in Toronto. Gonzales got the best of the Jays in that one, picking up the win after allowing just 1 run over 6 innings. He gave up 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out just 2, while managing to keep the the ball in the yard. The Jays’ lone run in that one came on a bases loaded walk to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

George Springer got the game off once again yesterday, which hopefully was just a routine rest day in a long stretch of games. It does feel like a reasonable off day in a day game after a night game situation, and he probably is still a bit dinged up. But he has remained relatively healthy all year, and that has been great.

The Blue Jays seem to be expecting Danny Jansen back during this weekend series. I would be surprised if that was today though. I’d guess Gabriel Moreno, who would have experience catching Lawrence in AAA, is the starter behind the plate tonight, then he could very well find himself on the way back to Buffalo after the game. It’s a tough situation for Moreno, who has done well enough in his stint to stick around, but he also is going to lose even more of his playing time with Jansen around. Having a healthy Jansen, Moreno and Kirk on the active roster seems unlikely, so it’ll be Moreno the odd man out until there is a trade.

Cavan Biggio led off yesterday, and as much as his bat seems like that’s a good idea, he just doesn’t seem to be able to do it. His success this year has come from the bottom of the order, and the few times he has been moved up it just hasn’t worked for him. It’s an interesting anomaly, and probably nothing to it, but I’m also fine if he’s always our number 9 hitter.

Mariners’ Lineup

The Mariners as a team are hitting a solid .235/.318/.384 (107 wRC+), but they sit 6th from the bottom in runs per game at 4.01. Some of it certainly has to do with the tougher stadiums in the AL West, including their home ballpark, but overall they’re just not turning baserunners into runs as often as it seems they should.

The Mariners certainly have the firepower, especially at the top of the lineup. Top prospect Julio Rodríguez has shown up exploded onto the scene this year. He’s hitting .277/.336/.487 (138 wRC+), with 15 home runs and 21 stolen bases. He has won rookie of the month for both May and June, and has really been one of the best outfielders in baseball this year.

The list of players out for this series is quite impressive. Catchers Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens both appear to be out for a while. First baseman Ty France, having a breakout year with a 155 wRC+, has been out for a couple weeks with a sprained elbow, but is nearing his return. Backup first baseman Evan White has been out all season with hip and groin problems. Outfielders Mitch Keller (sprained ankle) and Kyle Lewis (concussion) have played a combined 13 games this year. And outfielder Taylor Trammell ended up on the IL a couple weeks ago with a strained hamstring. Add in Jesse Winker’s 6 game suspension, and the Mariners are without 8 guys who could normally be in their starting lineup for this series.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Kyle Schwarber went 3-4 with a pair of home runs, taking home the Monster Bat award. His bat wasn’t enough though as his Phillies fell 3-2 to the Nationals.

Corbin Burnes threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 10 to take home the Pitcher of the Day award. He also gets the WPA King trophy thanks to the closeness of his game, coming out with a .462 mark. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t come out with the win, and his Brewers lost 2-1 to the Cubs.

Find the Link

Find the link between Julio Rodríguez and Frank Schwindel.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant