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Game #15 Preview: Faucher/Fleming vs Kikuchi

Rays (13-1) vs Blue Jays (9-5)

Background: TORONTO, ON - April 14 At the end of the game, Rays Wander Franco is alone on the bench with his thoughts and a bubble. The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 in MLB baseball action at the Rogers Centre. The Rays had an opportunity to tie the MLB record number of wins to start the season but the loss prevented that. April 14 2023
Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Happy Jackie Robinson Day to all!

The Blue Jays will look to extend the Rays’ season-worst losing streak this afternoon, as they attempt to hand them their second loss of the season after a fantastic Jays’ win last night. Gametime is set for 3:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Yusei Kikuchi goes for the Jays, looking to bounce back from a troublesome start against the Angels his last time out. After 5 great innings in his first start in Kansas City, Kikuchi was knocked around hard against by the Angels, giving up 6 runs over 4.1 innings. They touched him up for 9 hits, including 3 home runs. He did at least manage 6 strikeouts to just 1 walk if we’re looking for positives from that start.

Rays’ Starter

The Rays are going with an opener today, starting things off with Calvin Faucher (pronounced foe-shay, despite what fans in the stands may call). The sophomore is off to a rough start to his campaign, surrendering 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk over 6 innings. The right hander has been touched up for 2 home runs in that span, a concern that has been with him for a few years.

Left hander Josh Fleming will follow Faucher in this one. Like Faucher, Fleming hasn’t been the greatest this year, and they’re the only two Rays with an ERA over 3.27. Fleming has thrown 7 innings this season, giving up 5 runs on 11 hits and a walk, striking out 7. He hasn’t given up a home run yet, so while his ERA sits up at 6.43, his FIP is 1.80. I’d wager that those numbers will get closer to each other today.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

While it’s a righty opening things up, the Jays should be going with their right handed heavy lineup today with the left handed Fleming set to be the bulk guy. With Danny Jansen likely catching Kikuchi, having Alejandro Kirk at DH probably happens. I’d give Whit Merrifield the start at second base today.

With Bo Bichette’s big 5-5 day at the plate yesterday driving his batting average up to .391, the Blue Jays now occupy the top three positions in the AL batting race (this sounds familiar). Overall in the Majors, along with Matt Chapman’s .460 and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s .393, the Blue Jays sit second through fourth, with the Marlins’ Luis Arraez hitting an even .500.

edit: and here’s the lineup

Rays’ Lineup

With a lefty pitching for the Jays today, the platooning Rays will roll out a few more right handed bats in this one. If they’re wanting to have Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe and Luke Raley on the bench, which they did the last time they faced a lefty, the Kikuchi would end up facing all right handed hitters, thanks to a few switch hitters.

It’s still remarkable just how well the Rays have done so far this season, and you don’t open the season with a 13 game winning streak without great contributions from top to bottom in the lineup. The Rays have 11 different players with at least 2 home runs. 11 different Rays have at least 20 plate appearances and a wRC+ over 100. And on the whole, the Rays don’t have a position player who has put up negative WAR this season. A truly full-roster effort.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Yan Gomes went 3-4 with a pair of home runs yesterday, good enough to secure the Monster Bat award. His big day with the bat helped his Cubs to the 8-2 win over the Dodgers.

Down by 1 with 2 outs in the bottom of the 11th, Nick Maton launched a walkoff home run, earning the Tigers the 7-5 win over the Giants, and more importantly, getting Maton the WPA King trophy. Maton’s home run gave him .766 WPA on the play, and for the whole game he was worth .685.

Johan Oviedo put in a really strong effort on the mound yesterday, going 7 innings while allowing just 1 run on 6 hits. He walked 1, and was the only pitcher to reach double digit strikeouts on the day, putting up 10. He was the tough luck loser though, as his Pirates fell to the Cardinals 3-0.

Find the Link

Find the link between Calvin Faucher and Blue Jay Legend Jorge Velandia.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant