The Blue Jays wrap up their road trip with a short stop over in Philadelphia for a two game series against the Phillies. Games seem to just start earlier than normal in Pennsylvania, with today’s start time set for 6:40 ET.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Alek Manoah will make his 8th start of the season in this one, coming into play with a 1-2 record and 4.71 ERA. He continues to struggle with his ability to throw strikes this year, walking an absurd 5.20 per 9 innings, after a fantastic 2.33 mark last year. He is also allowing half a home run per 9 innings more than last year, while striking out less than ever. All of this adds up to a horrible 5.49 FIP, something that even the biggest skeptics of Manoah never saw coming.
He’s better than he has been, and while he has shown his previous dominance a few times this year, there are still concerns showing up in nearly every start.
The Phillies are also back around to the top of their rotation for the 8th time as well, trotting out Ace Aaron Nola for this one. Nola is also working through his own rough start to the season, coming into play today with a 2-2 record and a 4.64 ERA. Unlike Manoah though, Nola is doing at least as well as his career norms with a 1.90 BB/9 rate and a 1.05 HR/9 rate. But it’s the strikeout rate that has dropped precipitously for Nola this year, down to 6.96 per 9 innings after spending the last four seasons over 10 (and peaking at over 12 in 2020).
Blue Jays’ Lineup
All of the Blue Jays’ world is still waiting for an update on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s left wrist, something that has forced him out of the lineup the last couple games. Even if he’s good enough to be in the lineup, there is still concern on whether it’ll affect his game, and how long the lingering pain will last. We should get an update at some point in time this afternoon.
If Guerrero is unable to go, expect to see Cavan Biggio pick up the missed at bats. Otherwise he should be on the bench, with Whit Merrifield pretty much locking down the starting role at second base at this point. Regardless of whether Guerrero is good to go though, Brandon Belt is the probable starter at 1B tonight.
On the topic of Belt, he had a great weekend in Pittsburgh, going 5-7 with 3 doubles and 3 walks. His hot streak is bad news for Nola, who can’t be that happy to see him finding his stroke in advance of their matchup. In 11 career plate appearances head to head, Belt is 6-10 with a home run, double and a walk.
And as always with Manoah on the mound, Alejandro Kirk will be behind the plate for the Jays.
After riding a top 10 offense to the World Series last year, the Phillies’ bats have been a bit cooler this year, sitting in the bottom half of the league in runs scored at 4.29 per game in the early going. They are still hitting a collective .266/.322/.430 (104 wRC+), but they see that wRC+ drop to 86 once they get runners in scoring position.
They did get a massive boost to the lineup last week though, as Bryce Harper returned from offseason Tommy John surgery. He missed just 30 games with the surgery, an absurdly low number even when considering that position players come back quicker. He’s strictly the DH for the time being, but even then the Phillies and their fans have to be ecstatic to have him back. And he has made his presence known quickly too, hitting .368/.455/.579 (183 wRC+) with a home run in 5 games.
On the low side of things, offseason mega-signing Trea Turner is off to a sluggish start. After inking an 11 year, $300m deal in December, Turner is hitting just .264/.306./412 (90 wRC+) with 4 home runs and 4 stolen bases thus far. He’ll turn it around, just hopefully not this week.
Their two big signings from last year have flipped their results in the early going. After putting up a 94 wRC+ and a -0.8 fWAR in his first season with the Phillies, Nick Castellanos is back to his normal self this year, hitting .304/.356/.489 (129 wRC+). On the flipside though, Kyle Schwarber has a 94 wRC+ and a -0.2 fWAR so far this year after putting up a 128 wRC+ last season. For whatever reason, they just can’t get both of them going at the same time.
Mitch Keller threw the 6th complete game shutout of the season yesterday, easily taking home the Pitcher of the Day award with 8 strikeouts while allowing just 4 hits and a walk. He obviously got the win in the Pirates’ 2-0 victory over the Rockies, and in doing so, he accumulated .588 WPA on his way to winning the WPA King trophy as well.
Find the Link
Find the link between Nick Castellanos and the great Fred Lynn.