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Game #34 Preview: Berríos vs Oviedo

Blue Jays (19-14) vs Pirates (20-13)

Toronto Blue Jays v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Blue Jays finally found their way back into the win column last night, taking the opener of their three game set against the Pirates. They’ll get right back at it this evening, with the start time scheduled for 6:35 ET once again.

Blue Jays’ Starter

José Berríos will look to turn things back around for himself here in his seventh start of the season. Things had been trending well for him up to the series opener in Fenway, where he allowed 5 runs on 11 hits. He was probably left in longer than he should have been, but after 5 innings of 2-run ball, he did have a bit of rope. He opened the 6th inning allowing a home run, but bounced back with a strikeout. However, a walk and a home run followed that, and then another single finally knocked him out of the game. If he gets pulled after the first home run, his night does look better, despite the 10 hits in 5+ innings.

On the season now, Berríos’ ERA is back up over 5, coming into play today at 5.29. His FIP still sits over 2 runs better at 3.21, thanks to 34 strikeouts in 34 innings against just 7 walks and 3 home runs. When he has been on, he has looked great. The whole pitching staff seemed lost in Fenway, and while it started with him, it certainly wasn’t just him. Hopefully yesterday’s bounce back for the staff holds for everyone.

Pirates’ Starter

The Pirates will turn to 25 year old right hander Johan Oviedo in this one, a pitcher that is pretty much the polar opposite of the 43 year old left hander Rich Hill who started yesterday. Oviedo’s fastball is averaging 96 mph so far this season, over 8 mph more than what the Jays’ batters saw yesterday. But one thing that Oviedo and Hill do have in common is that they’re not fastball reliant - Hill threw his soft loopy curveball more than any other pitch, while Oviedo throws his hard biting slider the most.

On the season, Oviedo comes into play with a 2-2 record and 4.78 ERA. His FIP sits pretty much a full run better at 3.83. Despite his overpowering stuff, he isn’t a high strikeout guy with 30 in his 32 innings, a strikeout rate that falls just below the league average. But he is right on league average with his walk rate, and thus far he has allowed about half a home run per 9 innings less than average, which is the big factor in his reasonably strong FIP.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The lineup was full of righties yesterday, but there will be some lefties back in there today. Kevin Kiermaier will be back in CF, while at least one of Brandon Belt and Cavan Biggio will also be back in the lineup. While Biggio doesn’t do well against hard fastballs, he does do well against non-fastballs, so he probably does make sense for this start, at least as much as he ever does.

If Biggio is starting, that probably means no Whit Merrifield. Merrifield has certainly earned pretty much full time play, and while he will get the occasional rest day to protect his 34 year old body, he probably isn’t ready for one yet. I’d start him at 2B today, put Biggio in RF and give Springer a DH day.

Interestingly, Alejandro Kirk has only caught one game this last turn through the rotation, the one started by Alek Manoah. Danny Jansen has gotten Berríos the last couple starts, so he’s probably going again. Hopefully there’s nothing ailing Kirk, although it could explain the 1-13 stretch he’s in at the plate too.

Pirates’ Lineup

Ji Hwan Bae left yesterday’s game after coming up lame on an 8th inning groundout. A roster move hasn’t been announced, but it didn’t look good, and he’s probably out at least today.

Ke’Bryan Hayes didn’t get the start yesterday, although he did find his way out into the field for the 9th inning. He’ll be back in the lineup today, and despite another rough start to the season, will probably find himself back at the top of the lineup.

Andrew McCutchen was also out of yesterday’s lineup, dealing with an ankle sprain. There’s a bit more of a chance that he’s not back in there, but I’d love to watch him play this weekend.

Look for Tucupita Marcano to get the start at SS again, as the Pirates likely send out at least 5 lefties/switchies to bat against Berríos.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Anthony Santander went 2-5 with a pair of home runs, driving in 5 to take home the Monster Bat award. The 5 runs was the difference in the game too, as his Orioles beat the Braves 9-4 in the first matchup of two of the three teams with more than 20 wins.

Bailey Ober threw 7 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk to take home the Pitcher of the Day award, narrowly edging out Chris Bassitt who allowed 4 more baserunners. Ober picked up the win in the Twins 2-0 victory over the Guardians. And since the game was so close, Ober is the WPA King as well with a .427 mark.

Find the Link

Find the link between Ke’Bryan Hayes’ parents and Kevin Pillar.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant