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Game #131 Preview: Wholestaff vs Contreras

Blue Jays (71-59) vs Pirates (49-82)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After pulling out the win last night, the Blue Jays will look to make it two in a row against the hometown Pirates. The game is once again set to get underway at 6:35 ET tonight.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays will be going with Johnny Wholestaff tonight, as they shuffle their rotation to be able to line up both José Berríos and Kevin Gausman for Monday’s double header in Baltimore. They’ve pushed Stripling back to tomorrow to help facilitate this, so today’s start officially goes to Trevor Richards. Richards certainly does have some experience starting games, but never for a team outside of Florida. He started his career in the Marlins’ rotation in 2018, then got moved to Rays part way through the 2019 season, where he made a handful of other starts. But today is just an opening assignment, where he’ll be pitching 1, maybe 2 innings.

The bulk guy or guys, depending on success, will be Yusei Kikuchi and the recently added Casey Lawrence. Lawrence will probably be run dry today, as Julian Merryweather seems poised to take his roster spot tomorrow. Aside from those two, the Jays got an amazing start by Alek Manoah yesterday, which coupled with the off day on Thursday means that most of the bullpen is super fresh.

Pirates’ Starter

Rookie right hander Roansy Contreras will make the start for the Pirates, his 13th start and 16th appearance of the season. Through 68 innings, he is 4-4 with a pretty good ERA at 3.57. His FIP is a full run higher than though, coming in at 4.58. The biggest culprit there is his 4.10 BB/9 rate, although his 1.32 HR/9 rate is also well above average. On the strikeout side, he’s getting 8.60 per 9 innings, a little bit better than the league average of 8.49.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The Jays’ stranded 7 runners in scoring position last night, but thankfully they were still able to pull out the 4-0 win.

Bo Bichette had a big night with 3 hits, and there are some other good signs for him as well.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who has not homered in over 2 months now, sat out yesterday with a wrist injury. It’ll be interesting to hear at the end of the season if it is his wrist that has sapped his power this year, or some other nagging injury, but something obviously has. Hopefully the Jays will allow him to rest here as much as he needs so he can get back closer to normal.

Pirates’ Lineup

It was nice to see old friend Tyler Heineman in the game last night. He started at catcher, so it’s likely that Jason Delay will be back behind the plate, as Delay seems to be getting the vast majority of action behind the plate.

Second baseman Rodolfo Castro was bumped up in the order for yesterday’s game, making his first start in the 2-hole this year. Considering the dearth of offensive talent on the team, a guy hitting .248/.312/.426 (106 wRC+) is one of the more suitable bats the Pirates have for the 2-spot.

Cal Mitchell was recalled before yesterday’s game, and got the start at DH. He figures to split time between there and the outfield, and the Pirates are going to hope he does better than the .204/.241/.336 (59 wRC+) line he put up before he was sent out a month ago. With a single last night, he’s off to a good start.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Joc Pederson went 2-2 with a home run and a walk, driving in 5 runs to pick up the Monster Bat award. His big night helped his Giants to the 13-1 win over the Phillies.

Spencer Steer went 2-2 with a home run and a double, plus a pair of meaningless walks, on his way to the WPA King trophy. His home run came in the 5th, leading off the inning to the Reds on the board down 2-1. Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 9th, he led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch, and then scored the winning run on a single. Steer provided .453 WPA towards the Reds’ 3-2 win over the Rockies.

Alek Manoah, with his 7.1 shutout innings, is the Pitcher of the Day winner, narrowly edging out the 7.0 shutout innings from Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb.

Find the Link

Find the link Rodolfo Castro and nobody else.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant