The Blue Jays are home! After starting the season on a 10 game road trip, the Jays are finally back in Toronto, ready to kick off the home slate of the 2023 season in a freshly renovated Rogers Centre. The Tigers are in town for tonight’s Home Opener, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 ET tonight, but it will likely be delayed thanks to all of the on-field festivities prior to the game.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Alek Manoah gets the ball tonight, getting the honour of opening both the season a couple weeks ago and now the home schedule tonight. He’ll look for much better results than that season opening game, where he allowed 5 runs on 9 hits over just 3.1 innings. Something closer to his last start in Kansas City would be much better received, when he threw 7 shutout innings on just 1 hit.
An unfortunate similarity between Manoah’s first two starts this season is a very high walk rate with fewer strikeouts than you’d want to see from him. He’s also getting hit a lot harder so far this season compared to last, with his slider bearing the brunt of that damage early on.
Young right hander Matt Manning will get the ball for the Tigers, making his second start of the year. In his first start against a strong Astros’ team, he went 5.2 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 4 and gave up a home run to Kyle Tucker.
Coming up through the Minors, Manning was a highly touted prospect with a good pitch mix. He has yet to fully break out, but he has done decent since the start of last year with a 3.41 ERA over 68.2 innings.
Overall, he has done a good job in the starter’s role, learning how to use his strong repertoire of pitches to get through lineups. For his career, Manning has pretty neutral splits, with righties putting up a .313 wOBA and lefties a .315 wOBA. Against righties he’ll throw his fastball work off it with his slider and sinker most of the time. Against lefties he becomes very fastball heavy, mixing in a curveball and changeup as his go to secondaries.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Matt Chapman was rewarded for his incredible play this past week with the AL Player of the Week award. He collected at least one hit in each game, and was a key bat in the Jays’ 5-2 week. It’s great to see him off to such a great start and give the Jays another bat that can carry them.
After facing lefties all weekend, and then again tomorrow, look for a pretty lefty heavy lineup for the Jays today. Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho will be playing every day they’re able, but Brandon Belt and Cavan Biggio rightfully miss a lot of time against lefties. With the righty on the mound today, all four are likely to be in the lineup.
Alejandro Kirk will be behind the plate doing the catching for Manoah. Both Kirk and Danny Jansen are off to very rough starts with the bat to start the season, combining to go 5-41 without an extra base hit yet. It’s creating an unfortunate hole in the lineup in the early going, for a position that was supposed to be an offensive strength for the Jays. They’re likely to turn things around, but it may take a while. Looking back at last season, Kirk didn’t pick up his first extra base hit until May 3 in his 71 plate appearance of the year.
The Tigers’ bats are off to a horrible start, hitting a paltry .205/.261/.292, good enough for the second lowest team wRC+ at 56. They’re a little bit better on the runs scored side of things, just fourth worst at 3.00 per game.
They do have a few batters off to strong starts at least, with Matt Vierling, Riley Greene, Akil Baddoo and Kerry Carpenter all putting up above league average numbers. Catcher Jake Rogers is also off to a good start, collecting 2 of the team’s 5 home runs on the season.
On the down side of early season results, Javier Báez and Spencer Torkelson are leading the charge of disappointments.
Corner outfielder Austin Meadows recently ended up on the 10 day IL trying to work through anxiety issues. Here’s his official statement, and our sister site Bless You Boys has a nice article on the matter as well.
Dodger fans got Maximum Muncy yesterday, as Max went 3-3 with a pair of home runs and 7 RBI to pick up the Monster Bat award. Muncy accounted for most of the offensive in that one, as the Dodgers beat the Giants 9-1.
Sean Murphy had a big game with his new team yesterday, knocking a pair of doubles early, including one to break a scoreless tie in the 6th, before coming through in extras with a walk-off home run. His exploits net him the WPA King trophy with a .757 mark on the day, and his Braves beat the Reds 5-4.
Zac Gallen was masterful yesterday, picking up the win with 7 shutout innings on the way to also getting the Pitcher of the Day award. Gallen allowed just 3 hits and a walk while striking out 11, as his Diamondbacks took down the Brewers 3-0.
Find the Link
Find the link between Matt Manning and DJ Stewart.