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Game #144 Preview: McClanahan vs Gausman

Rays (79-63) vs Blue Jays (81-62)

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

The Blue Jays wrap up their five game series against the Rays this afternoon, looking to stick it to the Rays by taking four of five. They’ve already won the series and guaranteed that they’ll enter the weekend ahead of the Rays, but every win at this point is huge as they sprint towards the finish line.

Today’s game is an earlier one, set to get underway at 3:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Ace Kevin Gausman will wrap up this series for the Jays, making his 28th start of the season. He enters today with a 12-9 with a 3.31 ERA, coupled with an amazing 2.28 FIP. For the first time since the start of the season though, that FIP isn’t the best in baseball, as Carlos Rodón of the Giants dropped his FIP down to 2.27 yesterday. But for Gausman, that’s still an incredible mark, and he leads the AL by quite a bit over the second place McClanahan.

This will be Gausman’s fourth start against the Rays this year, and he has done quite well so far. He had his best outing of the season when he faced them on August 2, where he went 8 shutout innings allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 10. His start prior to that on July 2 was the one he took a liner off his foot and was cut short after just 2 innings. He didn’t allow a run in that one either, giving up 4 hits and a walk over 2+ innings, striking out 3. The first time he faced the Rays was also a strong start, as he made it through the first 7 innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and a walk, striking out 8. But he came back out for the 8th inning in a tie game, gave up a pair of hits that did eventually score, and he was saddled with the loss.

Rays’ Starter

Lefty Ace Shane McClanahan will go for the Rays, and as noted above, he is also having a great season. He comes into today with an 11-5 record and a 2.20 ERA, coupled with a great 2.64 FIP. He has a fantastic K rate of 11.12 per 9 innings, coupled with a great walk rate (1.83/9) and home run rate (0.92).

McClanahan has missed the last couple weeks due to a left shoulder impingement that took him out of his August 30 start before it even started. He received an injection into his shoulder, and has returned to the mound about as quickly as the team could have hoped. Today will be a test of whether he’s healed enough to be the vital piece the Rays need him to be.

This will be just the second time McClanahan will be facing off against the Jays this year. His first outing came in that July 2 game matching up against Gausman. Gausman came out early with the injury, but McClanahan gave the Rays everything they needed in that one, going 7 strong innings. He allowed 1 run on 3 hits and a walk, striking out 10 and picking up the win.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

McClanahan has mild reverse splits this year, although that’s based on 470 plate appearances by righties and just 90 by lefties. Teams have been loading up with righties against him all year, and I expect to see the same again today, quite conceivably with a lineup of 9 righty bats.

Gabriel Moreno hasn’t seen any game action since being added to the active roster over a week ago. He was seen taking fly balls in CF yesterday, but I don’t anticipate actually seeing that this month. He may get a start behind the plate at some point, but even that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. He’s just here to watch and learn, and be an emergency replacement.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got the monkey off his back and finally launched his 100th career home run yesterday. At 38 degrees, it was the highest launch angle for a home run for him of the 100, and one of two balls with a launch angle over 20 degrees yesterday. Of course, he still had two balls hit on the ground at middle infielders yesterday as well, but the fly balls were definitely nice to see.

Rays’ Lineup

It was interesting to see the Rays load up on right handed bats against Stripling and his changeup yesterday. Against Gausman today, they’re likely to bring in their normal platoon bats, and let the lefties Jonathan Aranda and David Peralta get their regular starts.

Wander Franco got the start at DH yesterday, but has gotten a lot more playing time this series than I was expecting as he has come back from his wrist injury. He has struggled in this series, going 3-13 with 3 singles, but interestingly hasn’t walked or struck out yet.

Manuel Margot and Yandy Díaz are having the best series so far for the Rays, with Margot going 6-12 with a pair of doubles. and Díaz going 5-12 plus a walk. Otherwise the Jays’ pitchers have really shut down the entire lineup, a real driving force in the Jays going 3-1 in the first 4 games.

Yesterday’s Heroes

JT Realmuto went 2-4 with a pair of home runs and a walk, driving in 4 runs to take home the Monster Bat award. The Phillies’ catcher was the key piece in the 6-1 win over the Marlins.

Sergio Alcantara hit a 2-out, pinch hit 3-run home run in the bottom of the 10th to give his Diamondbacks the 5-3 walkoff win. That hit was worth a WPA King total of .755, as the D-backs took down the Dodgers.

Sonny Gray threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 8. He gets the Pitcher of the Day award, and he also got the win as the Twins took down the Royals 4-0. The Guardians won again though, and the Twins still sit 5 games back of the division lead and a possible playoff berth.

Find the Link

Find the link between Manuel Margot and Jurickson Profar.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant