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Pre-Series Notes: Jays and Orioles battle for wild card position, young catchers take center stage

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Ony
5 months ago
The Blue Jays have split their last two series and still sit first in the American League wild card standings. Despite trading Trey Mancini and Jorge Lopez, the Orioles are only two games out of the third wild card spot and four games behind the Jays.
As we all expected, these remaining games against the Orioles will have massive playoff implications for both sides. There are only 54 games left to play for the Jays and 15 of them will be against Baltimore. The season series is currently 2-2.

Things Worth Mentioning…

This series will see a battle of two of the best young catchers in the league with Adley Rutschman and Alejandro Kirk. Kirk took the league by storm early in the season and earned the starting spot for the American League in the All Star game but has been cold since. His single last night was his first hit in six games.
Meanwhile, Rutschman has been living up to his pre-season number one prospect ranking.
We won’t be seeing him this series but Tim Mayza’s injury against the Twins doesn’t appear to be as bad as we initially thought.
RHP Trent Thornton has been called up in his absence. The Jays will be sporting an all righty bullpen for now.

The head-to-head…

Jordan Lyles vs. Yusei Kikuchi
A journeyman pitcher, Lyles is now on his seventh MLB team in his 12th season. In his first year with the Orioles he has a 4.40 ERA and an 8-8 record. Lyles predominantly relies on his 92 MPH fastball which he throws 50.3% of the time and his slider that he uses at rate of 24.6%. He also has a changeup and a curveball.
In his lone start against the Blue Jays on June 14th, he allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in a 6-5 Orioles win.
Yusei Kikuchi has looked better since his return from the IL with a neck strain. In his last two starts he has allowed just three runs in nine total innings while striking out ten. John Schneider has been careful with Kikuchi not allowing him to face the opposing lineup more than twice despite having a low pitch count. He has pitched more than five innings once since May 22nd.
Kikuchi’s one start against the Orioles this season came opposite of Lyles on June 14th. He took the loss that night allowing four runs on five hits and four walks in four innings.
Kyle Bradish vs. Alek Manoah
Bradish is a 25-year-old rookie, and he has struggled to adjust to the MLB. He has only one win in 12 career major league starts to go with an ERA of 6.55. Throughout his minor league career he has been known to be a strikeout pitcher with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings. It has dipped slightly to 9.3 in the majors but is still well above the league average.
He faced the Blue Jays back on June 13th where he allowed five runs in 4.1 innings in an 11-1 Blue Jays win.
Manoah didn’t have the best command in his last start versus the Minnesota Twins where he issued four walks, but he managed to go six innings and only allow two runs in the win. He has now 12 wins and an ERA of 2.46 on the season, both lead Blue Jays starters.
He was the winning pitcher against Bradish and the Orioles on June 13th. In that game he struck out seven in six shutout innings.
Dean Kremer vs. Jose Berrios
Out of Orioles pitchers with ten or more starts, Kremer leads the team in both ERA (3.43) and FIP (3.91). Kremer relies heavily on the fastball. He uses his four-seamer 44.3% of the time and his cutter 3.13%. His last start against the Pirates on August 5th was one of his best of the season. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowed only four hits and zero runs.
He hasn’t faced the Blue Jays this season, but he saw them three times last year. In his 10.1 innings against them he has given up 13 runs and the Jays won all three games.
Jose Berrios will be looking to bounce back after getting roughed up by his former team the Minnesota Twins on Friday. After allowing two more home runs against the Twins he is now second in the MLB with 24 and two shy of his career high of 26.
It looked like Berrios had turned season around by posting an ERA of 3.00 in six July starts but he struggled yet again in his last start. His season ERA is now up to 5.19. With one third of the season remaining hopefully he can figure out how to pitch consistently as he will be needed for the Jays to go on a deep playoff run.

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