After an off day yesterday, the Blue Jays head off to Pittsburgh to open a three game set against the Pirates in beautiful PNC Park. Be prepared for an early one today, with the game set to get underway at 6:35 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
For whatever reason, this still isn’t officially announced, but today lines up to be an Alek Manoah start. For Manoah, this will be his 26th start, already sitting at 155.1 innings. He capped out last season at 23 starts and 129.2 innings between AAA/MLB, so he has fully blown by that. But he has repeatedly said that he is good to go for a big work load, and hopefully the belief in himself continues to pay off.
His numbers on the year are fantastic. He enters play today with a Blue Jays’ best 12-7 record and 2.60 ERA. At the Major League level, his 12 wins ties him for 8th, and his ERA is also 8th.
While also not listed, it appears that the Pirates will go with Johan Oviedo, who was added to the active roster with yesterday’s roster expansion. Oviedo was picked up by the Pirates a month ago at the trade deadline, as they sent José Quintana and Chris Stratton to the Cardinals for Oviedo and Malcom Nunez.
Oviedo has spent the last month pitching in AAA, but will make his Pirates debut today. He does have some Major League experience, pitching for the Cardinals off and on for the last 3 seasons, starting 19 games and pitching in relief in 14. Over his 112.1 career innings, he is 2-9 with a 4.65 ERA and a 5.01 FIP.
Oviedo has spent time in the bullpen and rotation at both the AAA and Major League levels this year, most recently starting for AAA. But he hasn’t been built up much for innings, and hasn’t completed 4 innings since the beginning of June. If things are going well for the young righty today, he still probably doesn’t go beyond the 4th inning, and the Jays will get a good look at the bullpen.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Tom gave a good look at the recent trends of the Jays’ hitters yesterday, and there isn’t a whole lot to be happy about there. Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen are both doing well, but Kirk is going to be catching Manoah, so Jansen will be on the bench. George Springer and Matt Chapman are the only other 2 bats that have been hot lately, not what you want to see going down the stretch.
Whit Merrifield continues to prove that his acquisition was a mistake. As a Blue Jay, he is now hitting just .208/.276/.264 (58 wRC+) while cycling through positions that already have 2 other guys. He also has just 1 stolen base attempt in 19 games, after leading the AL in stolen bases three different times in his career, including last year.
The top of the Pirates’ lineup is a group of fun and exciting young players.
The 6’7” shortstop Oneil Cruz leads things off, and he is a lot of fun. His throwing arm is phenomenal, registering a 97.8 mph seed from SS to 1B. With the bat, a little over a week ago he set the MLB record for the hardest-hit ball at 122.3 mph off the bat. He’s also incredibly fast too, with his 30.2 FPS speed coming in as the 5th highest in all of baseball. The problem right now for the rookie though is that he is struggling with hitting, putting up just a .202/.257/.408 (81 wRC+), thanks in part to a 37.8% strikeout rate. But the skills are there, and the opportunities are going to continue because he is their future.
Following Cruz in the lineup are Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes. The switch hitting Reynolds has fallen well short of his breakout year last year, both with the bat and in the field, but he is still hitting .256/.338/.457 (120 wRC+) on the season. Hayes is a defensive marvel at 3B, and his bat should eventually come around too. He leads all Major League third basemen in Defensive Runs Saved at 17, and comes in second with Outs Above Average at 13. But like Cruz, the bat hasn’t been there for him, as he’s hitting just .243/.313/.348 (87 wRC+).
Beyond those three, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about for Pirates’ fans, and their NL-worst 3.56 runs per game bear that out.
Joey Menses went 4-6 with a home run yesterday, driving in 4 runs to take home the Monster Bat award. Three of those RBI came on a 10th inning walk-off home run, which gave his Nationals the 7-5 win over the Athletics. An extra inning come from behind walk off home run is a great way to accumulate WPA, so he’s also the WPA King with a .857 mark.
Spencer Strider had one of the most dominating pitching performances of the year yesterday, easily earning himself the Pitcher of the Year. He went 8 shutout innings, allowing just a pair of hits and nothing more while striking out 16 batters. He also got the win, as his Braves beat the Rockies 3-0.
Find the Link
Find the link between Bryan Reynolds and former Blue Jays’ farmhand Juan De Paula.