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Game #5 Preview: Kikuchi vs Bubic

Blue Jays (1-3) vs Royals (1-3)

Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue their series against the Royals this evening, looking to bounce back from another bad game. Tonight’s contest starts at 7:40 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

After an incredible Spring Training, Yusei Kikuchi will look to bring that momentum forward and try to move past a forgettable first season in Toronto. After going 6-7 with a 5.17 ERA a year ago over 100.2 innings, Kikuchi turned it on this spring, putting up a 0.87 ERA over 20.2 innings. He surrendered just 9 hits while striking out 31 batters. The walks were still concerning, but came at a better rate than he had last season, where he put up a 5.19 BB/9 inning mark, far and away the highest mark of any pitcher with at least 100 innings.

Royals’ Starter

The Royals will turn to Kris Bubic for the start tonight, making his season debut. The young lefty struggled last season as well, going 3-13 with a 5.58 ERA. He didn’t strike out many and he allowed more than his share of home runs, but it was probably the walks that hurt him the most. On that list mentioned in Kikuchi’s preview, Bubic had the second most walks among pitchers with at least 100 innings last season with a 4.40 BB/9 over his 129 innings.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

While the Jays have started the season 1-3, they’re still doing OK on offense. As a team they’re hitting .294/.381/.371 (109 wRC+), doing a great job getting guys on base but lacking the power production to do much about it. The power will come though, and the wave of runs will follow.

With a lefty on the mound today, Whit Merrifield will find himself in the opponent lineup at Kauffman Stadium for the first time in his life. The lefty starter likely also means that Kevin Kiermaier will be out of the lineup with Merrifield in the outfield and Santiago Espinal at second base, although that’s just based on what we saw against a lefty on Sunday. I don’t expect Kiermaier to sit every game against lefties.

Danny Jansen is expected to work behind the plate in this one catching Yusei Kikuchi. If the Jays are looking to maximize the number of righties against Bubic, Alejandro Kirk would be at DH.

Royals’ Lineup

The Royals knocked out 10 hits yesterday, far and away a season high. They collected just 12 in their 3 games against the Twins, so their offensive outburst last night was the first time many of their batters got to stretch their legs out.

After rolling out 6 lefties against Berríos yesterday, look for a lot more of a right handed team today against the lefty Kikuchi. Matt Duffy and Franmil Reyes will be in for a couple of the lefty bats, while Salvador Perez will likely be back behind the plate.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Bryan Reynolds went 3-5, knocking out a pair of home runs and also collecting a double to take home the Monster Bat award. Thanks to his big game, the Pirates took down the Red Sox 7-6.

Seth Brown hit a 2-out, 2-run home run in the bottom of the 9th to save the game and knot things up at 10. Unfortunately for him, his Athletics couldn’t come through in that inning or in extras, ultimately falling to the Guardians 12-11 in 10 innings. For his part, Brown is the WPA King with a .527 mark.

Anthony DeSclafani had a strong outing last night, throwing 6 shutout innings while allowing just 3 hits and no walks to pick up the Pitcher of the Day award. He struck out 4 and picked up the win as his Giants beat the White Sox 12-3.

Find the Link

Find the link between Bobby Witt Jr. and Reds’ prospect Rece Hinds.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant