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News and Notes: Alek Manoah will start Game 1 of the wild-card series for the Blue Jays, Gurriel Jr. and Espinal injury updates, and more!

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Photo credit:© Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
3 months ago
Before the first game of the doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon, let’s rattle through some Blue Jays news!
Starting with the doubleheader, Trevor Richards will be the starter for the 12:35 PM EST game, expected to open for Mitch White. And yes, the tweet below absolutely fooled me when I woke up this morning.
As an opener this season, Richards has a 2.70 ERA and a -0.19 FIP, yes, that is possible. This is due to striking out 46.7% of batters in his 3.1 innings pitched. The last time White had an opener, he pitched 6 innings giving up three runs while striking out two. That was against the Rays. At this point, the Jays need White, Kikuchi, and the 29th man to eat innings.

Speaking of the 29th man…

Per Keegan Matheson, the Jays will be calling up starter Casey Lawrence. The 34-year-old righty has an 8.04 ERA and a 6.88 FIP in 15.2 innings pitched with the Jays, but I don’t think he’s been that bad.
With the Buffalo Bisons, he posted a 2.79 ERA and 4.16 FIP in 126 innings pitched. Like White and Kikuchi, expect Lawrence to eat innings, despite the game’s score.

Trent Thornton in the dugout:

Per Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun, the 29-year-old is in the clubhouse. He has a 4.30 ERA and 4.70 FIP in 44 innings pitched with the Jays this season. With the Bisons, Thornton posted a 2.89 ERA and 3.22 FIP in 28 innings pitched.
 
I still think there’s something in Thornton, as he has fantastic spin rates on his breaking stuff, and sits in the mid-90s, with his heater. I just don’t know if it’ll be with the Blue Jays.
 
Thornton could be one of the players removed from the 40-man roster to add some of the prospects that need to be protected.

Alek Manoah starts game one:

Per the Blue Jays, Alek Manoah will take the mound for game one of the wildcard series.
The 24-year-old righty is rocking a 2.24 ERA and 3.34 FIP in 196.2 innings pitched in 2022. He had a 22.9 K% (down from 27.7% last season) and a 6.5 BB% with the Jays this season.
Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, Big Puma gets outs and eats innings. That’s how you know you have an ace on your hands. Furthermore, he’s only 24, meaning he’ll only get better with experience.
Seattle’s ace, Luis Castillo takes the mound for the Mariners on Friday. This season, the 29-year-old has a 2.99 ERA and 3.07 FIP in 150.1 innings pitched. With the Mariners, his ERA sits at 3.17, while his FIP sits at 2.91 in 65.1 innings pitched.
After trading a haul for Castillo, as well as signing him to an extension, it’s only fitting that the two best pitchers in the series face off head to head in Game 1.

Injury updates:

Per Keegan Matheson, both Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Santiago Espinal are back in Toronto and will take live batting practice on Wednesday. Apparently, they’re in their final stages of their rehab, but we’ll see if they’ll be ready to go come Friday.
This season, Gurriel Jr is slashing .291/.343/.400 in 493 plate appearances. He has a 16.8 K% and 6.3 BB% for a 114 wRC+. Last season, he hit 21 homers, but that has dropped to just 5 this season. Despite that, his contact-over-power plate approach is a breath of fresh air, hopefully, he doesn’t have any rust upon returning.
Espinal is slashing .267/.322/.370 with seven homers in 491 plate appearances. He has a 7.3 BB% and a 13.8 K% for a wRC+ of 99. Like Gurriel, his approach at the plate is unlike many of the Blue Jays, looking for solid contact instead of homers.
Add in his above-average defense in the infield, and I could see him getting some defensive replacement opportunities in the postseason.

No updates on time yet:

Sadly, there hasn’t been any information about what time the game starts on Friday, but I would guess it would be the 4:00 PM EST slot.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Is it Friday yet?

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