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Game #17 Preview: Gausman vs Javier

Blue Jays (10-6) vs Astros (7-9)

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

After a successful homestand, the Blue Jays hit the road looking for their fifth straight series win. They’ll do so in Houston, as they kick off a three game set against the Astros this evening. Gametime for tonight’s game, and every game this series, is at 8:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Kevin Gausman heads to the mound, making his third start of the season. Much like last year, Gausman is off to a strong start on the mound, coming into play with a 1-1 record and a 1.35 ERA. His 2.57 FIP isn’t quite as mind blowing as the start of last year, but it is still strong thanks to great command and a lot of strikeouts. Through 20 innings, Gausman has 25 strikeouts against just 3 walks, giving him one of the best ratios in baseball.

Astros’ Starter

The Astros will go with 2022 breakout star Cristian Javier, who will be making his fourth start of the new season for them. Last season, the right hander went 11-9 with a 2.54 ERA. This season isn’t quite going as well, although he still enters play with a 1-0 record and a 4.24 ERA.

His biggest difference in the early going is a lack of strikeouts, although he has balanced that with a stinginess for allowing free passes. After averaging over 11.5 strikeouts per 9 innings the last couple seasons, he is down to 7.41 this season. But also after averaging over 3.50 walks per 9 innings for his career, he is down to 1.06 in the early going. His 14:2 strikeout to walk rate is quite good overall in the early going, even if that’s not the pitcher he will ultimately be this season.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

They were held down by a great lefty yesterday, but they’re now unlikely to see another for potentially the rest of the month. It’s all righties for the foreseeable future, which means that we’re likely to see a lot of Cavan Biggio and Brandon Belt. In an ideal world, this consistent playing time will help them get into a groove and deserve the playing time they’re expected to get.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a bit of a rough homestand, despite collecting at least 1 hit in 5 of the 6 games. He went 6-21 with 4 walks, which is probably not something anyone should call a slump when you hit .286 with a .400 OBP. But he didn’t collect an extra base hit in any of those games, leaving him with a 108 wRC+. But the lack of extra base pop isn’t a new trend this year either. He hasn’t had one since the last game in Kansas City, when he finished that series with home runs in back to back days. Add in a double in the last game in St. Louis, and those are the only 3 extra base hits he has had all season. Not really a complaint when a guy is hitting .387/.473/.500 on the season, but at some point those bigger hits are going to come.

Matt Chapman had a rough series against the Rays too, potentially still feeling the ill effects of the virus he had earlier in the week. His tremendous start came to a bit of a halt in that series, as he went just 1-10 with a single and 2 walks.

Astros’ Lineup

After going for years as being a top of the league offensive team, the Astros are finding themselves a lot closer to the middle of the pack in the early going. Collectively they’re hitting just .248/.334/.379 (101 wRC+), tied for 12th with 4.81 runs per game.

The big boppers are still bopping, as Kyle Tucker (178 wRC+), Yordan Alvarez (165 wRC+) and Chas McCormick (149 wRC+) are all off to a great start. But there are a few bigger names that aren’t doing well, including Alex Bregman (89 wRC+), Jeremy Peña (98 wRC+) and José Abreu (50 wRC+).

Longtime Astros Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley are on the IL recovering from surgeries, and probably won’t be back for at least another month or longer. Filling in for Altuve is Mauricio Dubón, who is having a strong start to the year, hitting .340/.365/.400 (117 wRC+) at the bottom of the lineup.

A concerning note for the Astros right now is on Chas McCormick, who has missed the last couple games with a blurry eye. They have been doing tests, and Sunday was better than Saturday, so he may be over by gametime. When he wasn’t in the lineup, Dubón was moved up into the leadoff spot.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Jeimer Candelario went 4-5 with a home run, driving in 2 and earning himself the Monster Bat award. His strong day with the bat helped his Nationals beat the Guardians 7-6.

Shea Langeliers had a huge 8th inning double, driving in 2 and giving his Athletics a temporary 3-2 lead. That lead vanished, and Langeliers led off the 10th inning by getting hit by a pitch. Add in a second inning single, and Langeliers added .626 WPA to his team’s efforts. That was good enough for a WPA King win, but not good enough for the Athletics’ to win, as they fell 4-3 to the Mets.

Gerrit Cole went the distance on a complete game shutout yesterday, surrendering just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 10, easily taking home the Pitcher of the Day award. Cole’s effort led the Yankees to the 2-0 win over the Twins.

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Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant