The Tribe won another series this weekend against a bad team. Doing so helped them inch ever closer to he AL Central leading Minnesota Twins. To kick off this week, the Tribe travels to Toronto to face the Blue Jays (another bad team) while the Twins head home to host the Yankees (a good team). Sweeps from Cleveland and New York will put the Indians in a tie for first place in the AL Central. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?
Team in a box
2019 Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are a bit better than their record would indicate, but not by much. Add in the fact that they play in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees and it’s easy to see why they’re struggling. On the other hand, they also get to face the Orioles 19 times in a season.
Monday, July 22 7:07 p.m. ET: LHP Ryan Borucki (v. Mike Clevinger)
After having a solid rookie campaign in 2018, Ryan Borucki has not yet pitched at the major league level in 2019. He was on the 60-day IL for a while due to left elbow soreness, but he’ll make his 2019 debut on Monday night against the Tribe. As a rookie last year, across 97.2 innings of work, Borucki allowed 42 earned runs while walking 33 and striking out 67 (ERA+ 109). He’s got a great sinking fourseam fastball (92 mph) that’s good for getting ground balls, a change (84 mph) that can generate flyballs, and a slider (80 mph) that can move both vertically and horizontally.
Tuesday, July 23 7:07 p.m. ET: RHP Aaron Sanchez (v. Trevor Bauer)
Aaron Sanchez really has not been the same since his All-Star year in 2016. Every year since then has been worse than the year previous, and 2019 is no exception. Across 102.0 innings this season, Sanchez has allowed 71 earned runs while walking 59 and striking out 83 (ERA+ 72). He hasn’t walked this many hitters since 2016 when he walked 63 in 90 additional innings. He’s still got a fast sinker (94 mph) to pair with his big, sweeping curve (79 mph), and he’ll also throw in a fourseam (94 mph) and a change (89 mph) to go with them. His most recent start came on July 17 against the Boston Red Sox; in that game, Sanchez went 5.0 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 8 hits while walking 1 and striking out 4.
Wednesday, July 24 7:07 p.m. ET: RHP Marcus Stroman (v. Shane Bieber)
Marcus Stroman, on the other hand, is having a career year on the mound. After a shortened, ineffective 2018, Stroman is back with a force in 2019 and looks like the pitcher we saw in 2017. Across 117.2 innings this season, Stroman has allowed just 40 earned runs while walking 34 and striking out 93 (ERA+ 148). He’s got a fantastic sinker (93 mph) and cutter (92 mph), and he pairs those with his change (86 mph). He’s got a fourseam (94 mph) and a curve (75 mph) but he rarely goes to them. His most recent start came on July 19 against the Detroit Tigers; in that game, Stroman went 7.0 innings and allowed no runs on 6 hits while walking no one and striking out 5.
OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr.: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a great rookie campaign last season and has only gotten better this year. Across 259 plate appearances in 63 games, Gurriel Jr. has a slash of .292/.336/.600 (wRC+ 141). ZiPS sees a pretty massive drop off for him going forward, however, mainly in the form of losing about 150 points on his slugging. But for now, watch for Gurriel Jr. to make some noise at the plate.
2B Eric Sogard: Eric Sogard has found new life in his career in Toronto. At age 33, he is finding himself in the middle of his best season at the plate to date. Across 304 plate appearances in 69 games, Sogard is slashing .305/.369/.491 (wRC+ 128). He’s rocking a BABIP about 50 points above his career average, so maybe there’s a bit of luck at play; ZiPS would tend to agree as it projects him to also struggle down the stretch and lose about 100 points on his slugging.
1B Justin Smoak: Justin Smoak is having a slightly above average year this year, and definitely not as good as he was the previous two seasons, but he’s still one of the better hitters for Toronto this year. Across 333 plate appearances in 79 games, Smoak is slashing .212/.351/.407 (wRC+ 106). If you need an argument that batting average isn’t the end-all, be-all of offensive statistics, look no further than Justin Smoak; despite having a BA approaching the Mendoza line, he’s been an above average bat this year, thanks in large part to his 16.2% walk rate. ZiPS thinks that he’ll be roughly this player the rest of the year, so there’s no reason to think that he won’t continue to produce even if he doesn’t hit for a high average.
Toronto Blue Jays roster
How many games will the Indians win against the Blue Jays?
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