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Games #141 & 142 Preview: Springs/Herget vs Manoah/White

Rays (78-61) vs Blue Jays (79-61)

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

After the Blue Jays fired the opening salvo of this five game series yesterday, taking the first game in dramatic fashion over the Rays. Today the Jays and Rays play a double header, with the first game set for 1:07 ET and the second set for the standard 7:07 start.

Blue Jays’ Starters

Alek Manoah gets the ball for the Jays in the first game, coming off possibly his best performance of the year. He allowed 1 run on 3 hits and a walk over a season high 8 innings last week against the Orioles. That start lowered his ERA to 2.42, the 4th best mark in the AL.

Like Berríos yesterday, this will be just the second time Manoah will face the Rays, having faced them back in mid-May at Tropicana Field. He went 6 innings in that one, allowing 3 runs (just 1 earned) on 5 hits and no walks with 4 strikeouts. All 3 runs scored off him in the 6th inning after a Matt Chapman error. Manoah was otherwise pitching a scoreless game in the 6th, with just 73 pitches at the time of the 1 out error. If Chapman doesn’t make the error, it’s 2 out and runners on the corner with nobody scoring. But such is baseball.

For game two this evening, the Blue Jays are expected to use Mitch White after calling him up as the 29th man due to the double header. For White, this will be his 7th start as a Blue Jay, and things have gone very badly for him in the first 6. Through 25.1 innings as a Blue Jay, White has allowed 23 earned runs (the same number he allowed in 56 innings with the Dodgers) on 35 hits and 11 walks. He only allowed 2 home runs in that span, so that at least wasn’t hurting him.

With White, the Jays can’t expect to get more than 4 innings out of him, so they’re going to need some bulk out of the bullpen, and more importantly they’ll need length out of Manoah in the first game. For the bullpen at least, nobody is coming into today having pitched back to back days, and Berríos helped out greatly yesterday by going 6.1 innings and only needing 3 relievers to finish the game.

Rays’ Starters

Jeffrey Springs is set to go for the Rays, someone the Rays can suddenly rely on out of the rotation. The 29 year old lefty hadn’t made a start at the Major League level since 2 starts in his rookie year with Texas in 2018. Since then, he had been an effective reliever, until the Rays gave him a shot in the rotation early this year, and he has been there since the beginning of May. He has made 20 starts and 8 relief appearances, pitching to a 7-4 record and 2.54 ERA in 109.2 innings thus far.

Springs’ only start against the Jays came in a matchup against Manoah on May 15, and Springs matched Manoah pitch for pitch while he was in the game. Still ramping up his workload as a starter, Springs went 4.2 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and nothing else while striking out just 2.

It’s not set yet, but it would appear that career minor leaguer Kevin Herget will get his first big league action today. The 31 year old righty started his professional career in the Cardinals organization as a 39th round draft pick in 2013. He was with the Cardinals system up until 2019, then re-emerged post-2020 in the Guardians’ system last year, and this year he has been with the Durham Bulls, and pitching well. Through 91.2 innings, he has a 2.55 ERA, striking out a batter per inning while greatly limiting walks and home runs.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The interesting thing I found when looking back at that May 15 game between Manoah and Springs was just how bad some of the Jays’ hitters were doing at that time. Bichette, Kirk, Hernández and Chapman were all below a .650 OPS. Now they’re all above .770. Bichette pushed his OPS up to .804 yesterday, the first time it has been above .800 since the third game of the season, falling pretty quickly from his 4-8 start to open the year.

The double header today likely results in most guys getting a start today. It’ll be interesting to see if they go full platoon advantage with Espinal, Merrifield, Biggio, Bradley and Tapia or not. Springs has reverse splits as a left hander so that’ll probably be a consideration. And expect to see Springer at DH in one game and Vladdy at DH in the other, so the above five guys will probably have three positions to cover in both games.

Rays’ Lineup

Wander Franco had the day off yesterday as a rest day, although he did get a pinch hit opportunity. He has been dealing with his wrist that was surgically repaired earlier this year, and has been having some recurring problems with it. The Rays are saying that yesterday was just a rest day related to so much playing on turf, but considering he just got back off the IL after missing 2 months, he’s just not fully healthy. He’s probably playing today, but I wouldn’t expect him to be close to 18 innings.

I’d expect the Rays to load up on lefties against Manoah in the first game. Manoah has pretty big splits with lefties putting up a .302 wOBA while righties are all the way down at .214. The Rays are able to run out a lineup that would have 7 lefty/switchy bats, and I’d guess there will be at least 5 against him.

For the second game, expect to see most of the guys that didn’t play the first game.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Bo Bichette gets the Monster Bat award for his 2-3 day with a home run and RBI single, plus the HBP. He drove in all 3 of the Jays’ runs, including the massive 2-run shot in the bottom of the 8th, and as a result is also the WPA King with a .727 mark in the Jays 3-2 win over the Rays.

Framber Valdez went the distance on a 6 hit shutout, easily getting him the Pitcher of the Day award. He struck out 8 while walking 1, as the Astros beat the Tigers 7-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Mickey Morandini and Jeffrey Springs.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant