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Game #58 Preview: Bassitt vs Verlander

Blue Jays (30-27) vs Mets (30-27)

Milwaukee Brewers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Blue Jays head to Queens to take on the Mets this evening, opening up a three game series against the most expensive team in baseball. Tonight’s contest gets underway at 7:10 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Chris Bassitt heads to the mound for the Jays, making the 12th start of his Blue Jays’ career. It has been very up and down for him, starting the season horribly down in St. Louis before rattling off some really good games a few weeks ago. Unfortunately he has been back in the down portion, with back to back rough outings allowing at least 6 runs on multiple home runs. He has allowed 11 home runs this season, with 9 coming in his first start and his previous two, while the other eight outings have seen just 2 home runs.

On the season, Bassitt is 5-4 with a 3.80 ERA, pretty much what everyone would have been happy with when the Jays picked him up over the winter on a 3 year, $61m deal. When looking at his FIP of 5.22, the confidence level falls a bit. A lot of the damage to his FIP is from the home runs, as his 1.49 per 9 innings rate is tied for 10th worst among the 71 qualified starters. But his K/BB rate is also rough this year, as his 2.19 ratio has him at 12th worst on that same list. With minimal strikeouts and a lot of walks and home runs, he flirts with danger. But when he’s on, he can dominate, as witnessed by his recent 23 inning scoreless streak. Unfortunately he has given up 13 runs over his two games since then.

Mets’ Starter

Future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander gets the ball for the Mets, making just his sixth start of the season after opening the year on the IL thanks to a shoulder strain. Things haven’t gone well for him on his return, as he is 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA. Perhaps the biggest shock is the relative lack of strikeouts thus far, as he has just 22 in 30 innings. His current 6.60 K per 9 innings would be the lowest number he has posted since all the way back in 2006, a completely different world in regards to league-wide strikeout totals. But his fastball velocity is holding true, and he is keeping his walk rate down, so there is still hope for a strong season from him.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

The Jays probably aren’t looking forward to this matchup. The veteran Verlander has had some pretty dominating outings against the Jays in his career, and the veterans on the roster haven’t had much luck against him either. Matt Chapman has just 1 hit in 20 career at bats, although it was a home run. Kevin Kiermaier and Whit Merrifield are a combined 5-35. Verlander’s former teammate George Springer is the only one who has had some historical success against him, going 5-13 with a home run.

Brandon Belt is the latest Blue Jay to be suffering through the mysterious ailment that has been plaguing the clubhouse for the last several weeks. He has now missed two games after coming out of Tuesday’s contest. He’s probably getting close to his return though.

Cavan Biggio has been getting a lot of playing time recently, and has started to turn his season around. In his last 10 games he is 7-21 with 4 walks against just 6 strikeouts, putting up and OPS of 1.128. He has gotten his season WAR total back up to 0.0, and he’s starting to show value after a horrid start.

Alejandro Kirk is likely to catch again today, as he has been forced into a bit more of a consistent role with Danny Jansen on the IL. Unfortunately for him and the Jays, his bat still hasn’t looked like it did in his All-Star season last year, with the major culprit being his continued lack of power. He has just 4 doubles and 2 home runs this year, and the last time he cleared the wall was back on April 28. His .353 OBP is helping keep his offensive head above water, but he has just 1 walk in his last 57 PA as well.

Mets’ Lineup

The Mets have been a bit of a disappointment so far this year, although they’re crawling back up into the race fairly steadily recently, with 10 wins in their last 14 games. But the offensive firepower has been missing a bit for them, as they’re hitting a combined .244/.325/.397 (104 wRC+) and sitting 19th in baseball with 4.44 runs per game.

The big boppers in their lineup are doing well, as Pete Alonso (141 wRC+, MLB-high 20 home runs) and Brandon Nimmo (131 wRC+) are carrying the offense. Rookie catcher Francisco Álvarez (129 wRC+) is also off to a strong start. Jeff McNeil (109) and Mark Canha (108) are the only other ones with a wRC+ over 100.

Francisco Lindor is right there too, entering play today with a 99 wRC+. He’s obviously a bit short of his career 117 mark, but he is still having a strong season overall thanks to his continued great defense. One surprising part of his game that hasn’t shown up this year is the stolen bases, despite the climate around baseball that is really promoting it. Over a third of the way through the season he has just 4, after putting up 16 last year and getting into the mid-20s multiple times earlier in his career.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Fernando Tatis Jr. had four balls in play over 107 mph yesterday, turning 3 of them into doubles as he went 3-4 with 4 RBI, taking home the Monster Bat award. His big day led the Padres to the 10-1 win over the Marlins.

Corbin Carroll picked up a 2-out, 2-run walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th, giving his Diamondbacks the 5-4 win over the Rockies and the 4 game sweep. Carroll, for his efforts, gets the WPA King trophy with a very strong .604 mark on the day.

Kevin Gausman’s 6.2 shutout innings nets him the Pitcher of the Day award in the Jays’ 3-1 win over the Brewers. Gausman allowed 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 11.

Find the Link

Find the link between Justin Verlander and Tim Lincecum (and I think just 1 other pitcher).

Stats retrieved from Fangraphs and Baseball Savant