Blue Jays (63-54) vs Nationals (50-68)
The Blue Jays wrap up their road trip with a short 2 game layover in Washington, taking on the Nationals. The first game of the series is set to get underway at 7:05 ET tonight. Remember that this game is free for anyone to watch on YouTube.
Blue Jays’ Starter
Rookie Alek Manoah will go for the Jays, making his 12th start of the season. He’s still on the outside looking in on the Rookie of the Year race, as he hasn’t had the opportunity to spend the whole season in the Majors, but he has nonetheless put together an excellent rookie campaign thus far. Through 59.0 innings, he is 5-1 with a 2.59 ERA. The strikeouts have come as promised, as he has 71 already. Both his walk rate and his home run rates are marginally better than league average, so it’s pretty easy to see why he has been a valuable pitcher for the Jays this year.
The Nationals will go with right hander Erick Fedde. Fedde remains as one of the only left standing pieces in a rotation this year that has seen the departure of Max Scherzer at the trade deadline, and the injury struggles from Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross. Only Patrick Corbin, who is having a miserable year, has made more starts than Fedde’s 19.
Through 91.1 innings this year for Fedde, things haven’t exactly gone well for him either. He is 4-8 with a 5.12 ERA, although his FIP is a fair bit better at 4.50. He isn’t doing anything especially bad, but all three of his strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate are marginally worse than league average. However, this year may also register as a career best for him, as he has never been that good in any of those three metrics.
Fedde faced off against the Jays when these two teams met at the end of April. And in what seems like a trend lately, Fedde had one of his best outings of the year in that start. He went 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits and struck out 7, although he did walk 3. He also surrendered a home run to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Blue Jays’ Lineup
Infielder Otto Lopez is expected to be added to the roster for this series, but a corresponding move hasn’t been announced yet. Speculation abounds, as there are a few different options for getting Lopez onto the active roster. He could be replacing a pitcher and giving the Jays a deeper bench, while the off days sandwiching the series should limit the need for so many relievers. He could be replacing Breyvic Valera, who has struggled in his short time in the Majors so far. Or he could be replacing George Springer or Bo Bichette, both of whom have missed time recently with injuries and could be headed to the Injured List.
Outside of the Lopez situation, we also get the treat of watching pitchers stand in the batters box this series. This is the last series that we have to endure this stupidity, and unless the Jays make the World Series, it could be the last time a Jays’ pitcher is forced into this mess, as the new CBA this winter raises the possibility of a universal DH. So, remember this moment I suppose. Alek Manoah or José Berríos could be a trivia answer some day in the future.
The lack of DH likely means that Gurriel will probably suffer the most for playing time this week. Which sucks, because he is really deserving of more playing time lately. In August, he is 12-37 with 3 home runs and 3 doubles. Stretching it back further, since the start of June, he is hitting .283/.329/.503 (122 wRC+) over 207 PA. He has a 6.3% walk rate and a 19.3% strikeout rate in that timeframe too, all numbers much more in line with his excellent 2020 season.
Former Blue Jay Riley Adams, who went to Washington in the deal for Brad Hand, will likely find a bit of playing time in this series behind the plate. Another former Jays’ farmhand, Lane Thomas, made his National’s debut starting in LF on Sunday, so we might get to see him this week too.
Someone else we’ll get to see who was missing the last time these two teams met is superstar Juan Soto. Soto missed about 2 weeks earlier in the season, lining up with the time they were in Dunedin to play the Jays. But he’s healthy now, and putting up a fairly typical Soto-type season, hitting .302/.437/.506 (149 wRC+) over 449 plate appearances.
Soto is joined by Yadiel Hernandez as the only two players who have put up a wRC+ over 100 in more than a handful of games this year. Gone are Trea Turner, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison and Kyle Schwarber. At the time of the July 30 trade deadline, the team had a 99 wRC+. Since then they have just an 85 wRC+, really showing the effects of gutting the team.
Brandon Lowe went 3-4 with a pair of home runs and a bean ball, driving in 3 runs to take home the Monster Bat award. He helped his Rays beat the Orioles 9-2.
CJ Cron hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning, breaking the tie that his team’s bullpen created in the top of the 9th. With the home run, the Rockies beat Padres 6-5, and Cron gets the WPA King trophy with a .436 mark.
Wade Miley threw 7 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits, a walk and a bean ball while striking out 7, getting him the Pitcher of the Day award. He also got the win as the Reds beat the Cubs 14-5, and pulled to within 1.5 games of the Padres for the second Wild Card spot.
Find the Link
Find the link between Juan Soto and Miguel Andújar.
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