Saturday, June 22, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

MLB Preview: Atlanta Braves (25-13) at Toronto Blue Jays (21-16)


TONIGHT’S GAME: The Braves and Blue Jays tonight open a three-game weekend series in what is the only scheduled matchup between the clubs this
season…Atlanta and Toronto last played in 2021.

  • The Braves and Blue Jays have played 61 games since the advent of interleague play in 1997, and Atlanta has played to a 30-31 (.492) all-time against Toronto…The Blue Jays have won each of the last six games against the Braves after sweeping a pair of three-game series in 2021.
  • Atlanta returns to Canada for the first time since the 2019 season this weekend…The Braves played away to the Blue Jays during that 2021 season, but all three games were played in Dunedin, FL, at Toronto’s spring training complex.
  • The Braves have played to an 11-12 (.478) record in Toronto at the Rogers Centre, but have not lost a series here since 2008…Atlanta split two-game sets in 2013, 2018 and 2019, swept a two-game series in 2017, and took two-of-three in 2015.
  • RH Spencer Strider has never faced Toronto, and has pitched against just two members of the Blue Jays active roster…Brandon Belt is 1-for-2, while Daulton Varsho is 0-for-2 with a walk…The 6-foot-0, 205-pound right-hander has pitched in four career games and made three starts in interleague play, going 1-0 with a 2.18 ERA (5 ER/20.2 IP).
  • RH Chris Bassitt had never faced Atlanta prior to last season while with the Mets, when he made three starts against the Braves and went 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA (8 ER/15.2 IP)…The 6-foot-5, 217- pound native of Toledo, OH, has made seven starts for the Blue Jays this season, going 4-2 with a 4.28 ERA (19 ER/40.0 IP).

LOSS: Atlanta saw its three-game winning streak come to an end Wednesday night with a loss, 5-2, to Boston… The Braves outhit the Red Sox, 8-7, their first loss this season when collecting more hits than their opponent.

  • Atlanta and Boston were tied, 2-2, at the end of the sixth inning, before the Red Sox scored three unearned runs over the final three frames… It marked Atlanta’s first loss this season when tied after six.
  • Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario all collected two hits for Atlanta, combining for six of Atlanta’s eight hits on the night.
  • Travis d’Arnaud reached base in two of his four plate appearances, drawing a walk in the third inning before singling in the fourth…The appearance marked his first game since sustaining a concussion, April 8 vs. San Diego…He was reinstated from the IL on Monday after being
    sidelined for 25 games.
  • The Braves fell to 6-5 in interleague play with the win, and are in the middle of 14 consecutive games against the American League.

ON THE ROAD, CON’T: Atlanta has yet to lose a series on the road this season, and are a perfect 6-0 in series-opening games away from Truist Park.

  • The Braves are the only team in the N.L. to win every series opener on the road, and one of just two such teams in MLB…Baltimore has won each of its seven series-opening games on the road this season.
  • Atlanta also leads the National League with 108 runs scored on the road, fourth most in the majors behind just Baltimore and Toronto (120), and Texas (111)…All three of those teams have played more games on the road than Atlanta.
  • The Braves’ 15 wins on the road are already their most through 20 games since moving to Atlanta in 1966, despite what happened in the next two games…The franchise-best mark through 20 road games came from the 1884 Boston Beaneaters, who went 16-4 in their first 20 such games.

RONALD ACUÑA JR.: Went 2-for-4 on Wednesday night, including his seventh home run of the season… Acuña Jr. is batting .347/.438/.576 on the season, and his 50 hits on the season are most in the National League.

  • Just one player in baseball, Toronto’s Bo Bichette, has more hits on the season…Bichette has 52 hits, and will face Atlanta tonight.
  • Acuña Jr.’s sixth-inning home run on Wednesday traveled 470 feet, making it the seventh-longest home run in the majors this season and the second-longest by a Brave…Only Austin Riley’s 473-foot shot at St. Louis on April 3 was longer.
  • The shot was the fourth-longest home run of his career, including the postseason…His longest, a 495- foot blast on September 25, 2020 also came against Boston…Since the start of the 2018 season, no player has hit more home runs of at least 440 feet than Acuña Jr. (27), including postseason.
  • Acuña Jr.’s 16 multi-hit games lead MLB.

LEADOFF HOME RUNS: Since Ronald Acuña
Jr.’s debut in 2018, he ranks third in the majors with 27 leadoff home runs…Toronto’s George Springer leads MLB with 35 such homers in that span.

  • Acuña Jr. and Springer are each set to lead off for their respective clubs tonight.
  • Mookie Betts (BOS, LAD) has 28 leadoff home runs in that timeframe, good for second in the majors.
  • Acuña Jr.’s 27 leadoff homers are most in team history.

ROSARIO STREAKING: Eddie Rosario went 2-for-4 on Wednesday night, and has hit in each of his last eight games dating to May 1…He’s batting .344/.364/.438 during the run, with three doubles and six RBI.

  • Rosario’s run matches Austin Riley’s eight-game streak from April 1-7 for the longest by a Brave this season.
  • For Rosario, it is his longest hitting streak since joining the Braves in July 2021.

Tonight’s Starting Pitcher – #99 Spencer Strider RHP
2023 Record: 4-0, 2.70 ERA • 2022 Record: 11-5, 2.67 ERA
vs. RHB: .174 (12-69), 1 HR • vs. LHB: .151 (11-for-73), 1 HR
Home: 1-0, 3.13 ERA (8 ER/23.0) • Away: 3-0, 2.12 ERA (4/17.0)

Today’s Game

  • Strider is set to make his eighth start this year and first of his career against Toronto.
  • Struck out 10 hitters while allowing two runs, four hits and zero walks in his last turn against the Mets.
  • Struck out eight hitters and extended his streak of eight or more strikeouts to 11 games.
  • It is the longest active streak in baseball and tied for the ninth longest streak in the live ball era.
  • Only Hall-of-Famers Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and active pitchers Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber have longer streaks.
  • Martínez and Johnson are tied for seventh with streaks of 12 such games.
  • Leads all qualified starters with a rate of 15.07 strikeouts per nine innings this season.
  • Dating to 1901, his 14.66 K/9 rate is the fifth highest through six starts to open a season.
  • Only Tyler Glasnow (’20) Kerry Wood (’98), Corbin Burnes (’21), and Gerrit Cole (’21) had higher rates through their first six starts in a season dating to 1901.
  • Strider’s 58.0% rate of pitches in the zone is the second highest among qualifiers; trails only Seattle’s George Kirby.
  • His swing and miss rate of 38.6% is the highest in the majors.

2023 Recap

  • On May 1 against New York (NL) Strider snapped his streak of nine consecutive games with at least nine strikeouts that begun on September 1, 2022.
  • It is tied for third-longest such streak in the modern era (since 1900).
  • Passed Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz for the longest streak in franchise history.
  • Carried a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start against Miami until he lost his bid on a Matt Olson error.
  • Maintained a no-hitter through 7.1 innings; broken up on a single by Jean Segura.
  • Struckout a season-high 13 hitters and finished with two hits allowed over 8.0 innings pitched.
  • Started the second game of the season for Atlanta and earned the win, fanning nine hitters while pitching 6.0 scoreless innings against Washington.


THE LATEST: The Blue Jays let a 1-0 lead slip away on Wednesday as they allowed a run in the 9th and another in the 10th in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies…Were walked off for the 3rd time this season as they dropped to 3-2 in extra-inning contests and 6-4 in one-run games…Lost both games in the City of Brotherly Love and were swept for the 2nd time in 2023…Wrapped up their road trip at 3-6 and have dipped below .500 while away from Toronto (12-13). Toronto lost for just the 2nd time when leading after eight innings (18-2)…Has still won 12 of its last 20
games and 20 of its last 33.

A BELT AND A SWING: Brandon Belt plated the only run in the first eight innings of Wednesday’s contest, hitting a solo homer in the 5th inning…Marked his 2nd dinger of the season…Also walked to finish 1-for-3 on the afternoon…Has gone 7-for-15 (.467) with three doubles, a home run, three RBI, and a 4BB/7K ratio over his last five games.

KEVIN’S K’S: Kevin Gausman tossed 6.0 shutout innings on Wednesday…Allowed three hits and struck out nine batters without issuing a walk…Over his last six outings, has struck out 53 batters while issuing just four walks. The 32-year old now leads the AL with 67 strikeouts, tied with Spencer Strider for the most in MLB…The 67 K’s are the most in a pitcher’s first eight starts of a season in team history (2nd: Ricky Romero – 59 in 2010).

BO KNOWS BASE HITS: Bo Bichette picked up a single as part of a 1-for-4 Wednesday…Has gone 52-for-158 (.329) with nine doubles, eight homers, and 24 RBI while playing in all 37 games this season…Leads the Majors with 52 hits (2nd: Ronald Acuña Jr. – 50) and 85 total bases (2nd: Acuña Jr. – 83)…Is currently sitting 2nd in the AL in batting average, trailing only teammate Matt Chapman (.338), while T-7th in home runs, T-8th in extra-base hits (17), 9th in slugging (.538), and 10th in OPS (.907).

VLAD HABITS: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. notched his 8th double on Wednesday…Has reached base in each of his last 16 games, batting .281 (18-for-64) with seven doubles, four homers, 12 RBI and six walks over that stretch (.939 OPS). The 24-year old is now 43-for-138 with eight doubles, seven homers, 21 RBI, and a 15BB/21K ratio for a .312 AVG (T-7th in the AL), a .392 OBP (8th), and a .914 OPS (8th)…His 43 hits are tied for 5th most in the AL while his 72 total bases rank 14th…Has recorded 66 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) this season, tied with Ronald Acuña Jr. for the MLB lead.

HOME COOKING: Toronto is 4-0-0 in home series play to start the season…Have twice previously won more consecutive home series to begin a campaign, taking five in 2001 and winning six in a row to start the 1990 season (courtesy Stats Perform).

AT DOME FOR DAYS: The Blue Jays are kicking off a 10-day, 10-game homestand…Have gone 9-3 so far at Rogers Centre…The .750 win% at home is 2nd best in MLB (TB – .864)…Their 12 home games played are the fewest in the Majors (2nd: DET/NYM – 15)…After this weekend series with the Braves, will host the Yankees (21-18) for four nights and then the Orioles (24-13) for three games next weekend. Toronto batters rank 4th in the AL in home AVG (.262), while sitting 4th in home OBP (.344), 5th in home OPS (.750), and 8th in home SLG (.406)…The pitching staff ranks 2nd among AL teams with a 2.76 ERA during home contests (TB – 2.52), while posting a .188 opponents’ AVG (1st) and a 1.03 WHIP (2nd).

HITTING IT: The Blue Jays have notched 328 hits so far this season, 5th most in the AL…Are also 5th in the AL in team batting average (.256), 5th in OBP (.331), 6th in SLG (.413), and 6th in OPS (.744). The Blue Jays are one of two AL teams who have scored in every game this season (also: LAA)…Have gone 55 straight games without being shut out, the 2nd-longest active streak in the Majors (LAA – 79G).

INTERTAINMENT: Toronto is playing its 4th interleague series of the year (1-2 at STL, 3-0 at PIT, 0-2 at PHI) and its 3rd straight series vs. an NL opponent – its longest such streak since playing nine in a row against NL teams from May 27-June 5, 2013…Led the AL with 13 Interleague wins last season, which was one off the franchise’s all-time single-season record, set in 2021 (14)…Since the beginning of the 2021 campaign, Toronto’s .646 win% in Interleague Play (31-17) is 3rd best among all MLB clubs (TB – .714, LAD – .675). The Blue Jays have hit 653 home runs all-time in Interleague Play, the most among all 30 teams (2nd: CWS – 619).

WALK THIS WAY: Blue Jays batters have drawn multiple walks in 24 straight games, now the longest single-season streak in club history (23G from May 1-26, 1980), and their 2nd-longest overall (46 games from Sept. 5, 1993 to April 27, 1994)…Marks the longest multi-BB streak by any team this season (2nd: MIN – 22G)… Their 130 free passes for the year are 3rd most in the AL (BAL – 148, TB – 132).

VS. THE BRAVES: All-Time: 31-30
2023: 0-0 Home: 15-11
Home: 0-0 Rogers Centre: 12-11
The Blue Jays are 31-30 in regular season games all-time vs. the Braves (4-2 in the postseason)…Last met in 2021, winning all three meetings at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, FL, and all three at Truist Park…Outscored the Braves, 43-20, across the six contests…Last met here at Rogers Centre in August of 2019, splitting the two games. George Springer recorded his first two home runs as a Blue Jay against the Braves in Dunedin on May 1, 2021…Has gone 15-for-40 (.375) with two doubles, five homers, and nine RBI for a 1.244 OPS in his 10 career games vs. Atlanta. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has met the Braves 12 times in his career, batting .289 (13-for-45) with three doubles, a home run, seven RBI, and seven walks (.396 OBP, .422 SLG). Brandon Belt leads all current Blue Jays with 61 career games vs. ATL…Is 47-for-189 (.249) with nine
doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, and 23 RBI (.844 OPS).

STARTING PITCHER – Chris Bassitt, RHP #40
Making his 8th start of the season and his 4th at Rogers Centre…Improved to 4-2 on the year his last time out, on 5/5 at PIT…Threw a season-high 7.0 shutout innings, scattering 4 hits and 4 walks with 5 strikeouts. Signed a three-year, $63 million deal with the Blue Jays on 12/16/22.

Lasted 5.0 innings on 4/30 vs. SEA, allowing 4 runs on 2 hits and 4 walks with a season-high-tying 7 strikeouts (also: 7K on 4/13 vs. DET). Logged 6.1 innings of work on 4/24 vs. CWS, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, while walking 3 and recording 4 strikeouts…Left the game in the 7th with right lower back tightness…Was his 4th straight quality start, going 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA (6 ER/24.2 IP) over that span. Picked up his 2nd win of the year on 4/18 at HOU, throwing 6.1 innings of shutout ball with 3 hits, a walk, and 5 strikeouts…Marked his 3rd straight quality start, and his 1st scoreless outing of the season. Was saddled with the loss on 4/13 vs. DET, tossing 6.0 frames of two-run ball with 4 hits, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Earned his 1st win as a Blue Jay on 4/7 at LAA, allowing 3R/2ER on 2 hits and 5 walks over 6.0 frames with 5 strikeouts. Took the loss in his Toronto debut on 4/2 at STL, giving up career highs in runs (9) and homers (4) over 3.1 innings (10H, 0BB, 0K).

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