The Blue Jays escaped the State of Missouri with a 4-3 record, a decent first week all things considered. Now they head to Los Angeles, where the Angels wait to start a three game series. Vladimir Guerrero Sr. is set to through out the ceremonial first pitch, after which the regular first pitch will fly at the scheduled 9:38 ET start time.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Chris Bassitt will get a second attempt at making a good impression on his new team, after his first attempt went horrible. In last Sunday’s series closure in St. Louis, Bassitt got knocked around hard, surrendering 9 runs on 10 hits, 4 of which were home runs. He didn’t walk anyone, nor did he strike anyone out, because everyone was just too eager to hit the ball off him.
As was the case in Spring Training, Bassitt’s velocity was down once again. He averaged just 92.1mph on his fastball, a lower average of any start since the 2018 season. The silver lining there is he did have one start last year that was slightly higher than Sunday’s start, and then he immediately got better from there, so there’s a chance that we’ll see some velocity improvements. But ultimately it is not a good sign for the 34 year old.
The Angels will kick off the series with 26 year old left hander Patrick Sandoval on the mound. Sandoval had a very strong first outing of the season, throwing 5 innings while allowing 1 run on 2 hits. He did surrender a home run and walk 2 while striking out just 2 as well, so his underlying numbers certainly weren’t a fan of the outing, but at this point I think everyone was quite happy with 1 run on 2 hits.
The lack of strikeouts was a surprising part for Sandoval, who enters 2023 with a career mark of more than a strikeout per inning. Part of the reason for the lack of strikeouts seems to have come from his fastball. He didn’t get a swing and miss on any of his 18 fastballs, after averaging a whiff every 8 or so fastballs for his career. His changeup will also be a big part of his game today against so many righties, and that was a pitch that got hit pretty hard last week. So it’ll be interesting to see what the Jays can do against him.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Today’s game is the first of three against lefty starters in this series, so we’re likely to see a lot of right handed bats. Daulton Varsho likely still gets a lot of action, and Kevin Kiermaier as well. But Cavan Biggio and especially Brandon Belt are likely to be tied to the bench for much of the weekend.
This is great news for 2022 All Star Santiago Espinal. Espinal has made just 2 starts so far this year, collecting a single in 8 trips to the plate. A string of three probable starts with a platoon advantage should hopefully get him some positive outcomes. For his career, he’s a .318/.371/.420 (122 wRC+) hitter against lefties.
Danny Jansen likely catches Bassitt again, which probably means that Alejandro Kirk will be the DH.
As always (at least when healthy), going up against the Angels means we get to see two of the best players in baseball in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Trout is off to a stellar start to the season, hitting .368/.571/.632 (240 wRC+), and his .561 xwOBA is higher than the highest Blue Jay (Vladdy is at .560). Ohtani isn’t hitting nearly as well, hitting just .286/.400/.571 (162 wRC+). He’s also pitching really well, but thankfully the Jays don’t have to be victimized by that this weekend.
Surprisingly, the Angels aren’t just Trout and Ohtani this year. They’ve currently got three other regulars also posting above average numbers in Taylor Ward, Logan O’Hoppe and Gio Urshela. Ward especially is off to a great start, hitting .370/.414/.630 (191 wRC+) at the top of the lineup.
Notable offseason additions Jake Lamb (60 wRC+), Hunter Renfroe (23 wRC+) and Brandon Drury (19 wRC+) are having about as much luck in their new Angels’ uniform as so many other players who come to LA and disappear.
On the early season disappointment side of things, Anthony Rendon is once again off to a horrible start. After going hitless in his first 8 plate appearances, he got into an altercation with a fan and was slapped with a 4 game suspension. That suspension runs through tonight’s game, and he’ll be back in action tomorrow.
J.D. Davis went 3-6 with a home run, driving in 5 runs to win the Monster Bat award. His big bat helped his Giants take down the home town White Sox 16-6.
Orlando Arcia also collected 3 hits yesterday, none bigger than his RBI single with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th to walk things off for the Braves. Arcia gets the WPA King trophy with a .517 mark in the victory over the Padres.
Kyle Freeland narrowly edges out Kevin Gausman for the Pitcher of the Day award, as they had similar numbers, but Freeland pitched into the 7th. Over 6.2 innings, Freeland held the Nationals scoreless, limiting them to just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. Freeland also picked up the win, as the Rockies took the rare 1-0 win at Coors Field. The great Sarah Langs tells us just how rare that is:
today was the 11th 1-0 game in Coors Field history— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) April 6, 2023
the list, with winning team listed first ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/H1q9bdwRoX
Find the Link
Find the link between Taylor Ward and Daulton Varsho.