Game #127 Preview: Kikuchi vs Font (o)

The Blue Jays wrap up their homestand this afternoon, looking to win the series against the visiting Mariners. Today’s game gets under at 1:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

The Blue Jays will start things off with Wilmer Font, who has been a nice surprise for the Jays so far. After struggling with the Rays and the Mets, Font has come to Toronto and thrived in an Opener and occasional reliever role. Through 16.1 innings, he has allowed 4 runs on 12 hits, walking 3 and striking out 21. He has done even better in his 8.1 innings as an opener, where he has hasn’t allowed a run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 12. Oddly, he has opened 4 games for the Jays in August, but hasn’t pitched outside of those 4 games.

Following Font will be Thomas Pannone in the bulk guy role. This will be Pannone’s second appearance as the bulk guy since the trade deadline, when he worked as a regular starter prior to his last outing. The returns were pretty evident right away too, as against the Rangers the last time out, he as able to keep them off the board for 4 innings, as opposed to his 8.20 ERA in the second half before that. Overall on the season, the young lefty is 3-5 with a 6.39 ERA, so anything that Montoyo can do to get some good appearances out of Pannone, the better off the Jays are.

Mariners’ Starter

The Mariners will go with big offseason import Yusei Kikuchi. The 28 year old lefty came over this past winter from Japan with great fanfare as another excellent arm ready to go dominate the Majors, and after winning the bidding and signing him to a $43m contract, the Mariners are getting anything but. Through 25 starts and 126.1 innings, Kikuchi has a 5.56 ERA with a 5.99 FIP. His biggest struggle has been the home run, as his 2.21 HR/9 rate is leads all qualified Major Leaguers, not just this year, but since the beginning of time. Jose Lima has the previous record at 2.20 back in 2000, so he may not end the season with a record, but he’s treading awfully close. Welcome to the juiced ball era of the MLB Kikuchi.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. left yesterday’s game with left knee discomfort, and will be going for an MRI today. The club will obviously know more from there, but he’s not playing today. Maybe with the off day tomorrow, the Jays could luck out and that’ll be enough to get it back to good.

Otherwise, here’s what Baseball Savant has for the lineups now.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich went 5-6 yesterday, knocking out a pair of home runs, hitting 3 singles and drawing a walk to win the Monster Bat award. The home runs were numbers 40 and 41, throwing him back on top of the leaderboard with Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger. The game itself was a crazy one, back and forth for 14 innings with a game chart that is definitely worth checking out. The Brewers did eventually win 14-13 over the Nationals.

With such a crazy game, you expect to see some high WPA totals, and that was definitely the case here. The top 3 WPA King qualifiers came from this game, with Yelich securing the no.2 spot, and teammate Ryan Braun taking 3rd. But it was in the other dugout we get the WPA King, as Kurt Suzuki put up a league high .656 WPA yesterday, and interestingly did it without driving in a single run in a 14-13 game. He set up some big plays, including a 9th inning double that put runners on second and third down 1 with none out. Then again in the 13th, he had a big single that put the tying run on third and he again represented the winning run at 1B, although again didn’t score.

While that game 14 innings in a 14-13 slugfest, the Tigers and Rays went 13 innings in a 1-0 game. Ryan Yarbrough worked as the bulk guy in that one, going 6.1 shutout innings, giving up 3 hits but walking none while striking out 10 to earn the Pitcher of the Day award. I believe this is the first time a non-starter has earned this award.

Find the Link

Find the link between Kikuchi and Mariners’ utility man Dylan Moore.

Stats are courtesy of Fangraphs
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