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Game #71 Preview: Gausman vs Pérez

Blue Jays (38-32) vs Rangers (42-26)

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Blue Jays continue down the road to Arlington this weekend, taking on the surprisingly great Texas Rangers. The first pitch of this three game series is set for 8:05 ET, an hour later than normal, so enjoy that one extra hour of sunshine tonight before the game.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Jays have bumped Gausman up to better spread out the bullpen-heavy days. Thanks to Monday’s off day, this is a start with just normal rest for Gausman. Hopefully that doesn’t hurt Gausman too much though, as the extra day of rest has done him well this season. In seven starts on normal rest he has a 5.77 ERA over 39 innings with a 45:16 K:BB ratio. In his seven starts on more than four days rest, his ERA drops to 0.94 over 47.2 innings with a 72:6 K:BB ratio. Massive difference, but also a significantly small sample size.

With those numbers above put together, it comes out to a very solid season for Gausman. Through his 14 starts he is 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA. His 2.58 FIP is the third best among all qualified starters in baseball, and his resulting 2.9 fWAR also places him third. His 117 strikeouts lead the AL, as does his 27.0% K%-BB%. In other words, he is having a fantastic season.

Rangers’ Starter

The Rangers turn to veteran Martín Pérez who will be making his 14th start of the season. He is 6-2 with a 4.67 ERA and 4.91 FIP. He is having a pretty typical Pérez type season, where he strikes out very few (his 6.43 K/9 is the 5th lowest among qualified pitchers) while walking about league average (3.03 per 9 innings). Pérez is getting lit up for home runs a bit more than normal this season, as his 11 allowed over his 71.1 innings puts him just outside the top 10 by rate.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

With the softer tossing lefty on the mound, it will be interesting to see how the Jays load up their lineup. Pérez has historically done much worse against righties, so don’t be surprised to see the Jays go with 7 or even 8 righty bats.

Santiago Espinal will be in there for his first start since last Saturday, likely getting the start at 2B. That will likely push Whit Merrifield to LF as Daulton Varsho, the Jays’ likely lone lefty bat, to CF.

With Danny Jansen back healthy and hitting bombs, expect to see both him and Alejandro Kirk in the lineup tonight at catcher and DH.

Rangers’ Lineup

They’ve been the surprise of the season, watching their big pre-2022 season moves flourish as their top prospects are also coming into their own. As a group they’re hitting .271/.340/.453 (119 wRC+), the second highest wRC+ in baseball. But they’re scoring runs like no one else, as their 6.15 runs per game is over half a run more than the Rays. Part of that is thanks to steamrolling days, as they have scored double digits 16 times already this year (for reference, the Blue Jays have gotten there just four times, while the Rays have done it eight times).

They’re a powerhouse offense top to bottom at this point, as 10 different players have a wRC+ over 100 in somewhat regular playing, plus Mitch Garver who missed 2 months. One thing they’re not doing is stealing bases, as their 39 is ranked 24th in baseball. But if they’re hitting everyone home, they don’t need to be aggressive to score runs.

The batting order will start off with old friend Marcus Semien, who is having another fine year. Following him will be Corey Seager, who after missing over a month with a hamstring injury, is having his strongest offensive campaign with a 181 wRC+. Together those two represent about a quarter of the Rangers’ payroll, but the Rangers are definitely getting their money’s worth this year.

After those two, the lineup runs through a surprising gauntlet of Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis García, Josh Jung, Jonah Heim, Mitch Garver, Ezequiel Duran and Leody Tavaras, all of whom have a wRC+ of at least 115. A challenging lineup to say the least.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Danny Jansen with his 3-4 day including 2 home runs is the Monster Bat winner. Unfortunately his solo home runs were all the Jays could muster against the Orioles, but at least he was a bright spot on the day.

Cristian Javier threw 6 shutout innings yesterday, allowing just 5 hits and nothing else on his way to the Pitcher of the Day honours. He struck out just 2 and didn’t factor into the decision, as his Astros fell to the Nationals 4-1 in 10 innings.

Evan Phillips pitched a scoreless 9th and 10th innings last night, striking out 4 and keeping the White Sox off the board in the biggest moments of the game. As a result, he’s the WPA King winner with a .440 WPA on the day. The Dodgers eventually pulled out the win as well, defeating the White Sox 5-4.

Find the Link

Find the link between Marcus Semien and Dansby Swanson.

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant