TORONTO BLUE JAYS NOTES:
THE LATEST: The Blue Jays were doubled up in the opener of their 2-game set in Philly last night by an 8-4 score… Snapped their 3-game winning streak…Dropped to 8-4 in series openers this year. Toronto has still won 11 of its last 19 games and 20 of its last 32…A win today would earn Toronto its 1st series split of the year, moving to 8-3-1 in series play and 4-3-1 on the road…Has never been swept at the hands of the Phillies, winning or splitting each of their 26 series matchups.
BO BOMB: Bo Bichette cranked a solo home run in the top of the 6th inning last night, his team-leading 8th longball of the year…Also notched a double in the 3rd, finishing the game 2-for-5 with two RBI, his 14th multi-hit effort of the campaign, tied with Alex Verdugo and Marcus Semien for the most in the AL…Has gone 51-for-154 .331) with nine doubles, eight homers, and a team-leading 24 RBI while playing in all 36 games this season…Is the only Major League batter with at least 50 hits this season…Also leads all MLB hitters in total bases (84) while sitting 2nd in the AL in AVG, trailing only teammate Matt Chapman (.349). Since the beginning of the 2021 season, the 25-year old shortstop has racked up 431 hits, more than any other player in the Majors (2nd: Trea Turner – 429).
KEVIN!!: Kevin Kiermaier doubled in the 3rd before singling in the 7th on Tuesday, going 2-for-4 on the night with a pair of runs scored…Marked his 9th multi-hit game of the year, two off his total from the entire 2022 campaign…Has notched multiple hits in three straight games and in four of his last six…Is now batting .293 (29-for-99) with six doubles, two triples, two home runs, and 12 RBI (.800 OPS)…His 25 hits while batting 9th are the most in the Majors (2nd: Michael A. Taylor – 23).
IT’S ‘SHO-TIME: Daulton Varsho extended his season-long hitting streak to seven games last night, singling off Aaron Nola in the top of the 6th…Has only had two longer hitting streaks in his career, notching a pair of 9-gamers last season…Over the current run, has gone 12-for-27 (.444) with three doubles, three homers, and nine RBI (1.337 OPS). The 26-year old has reached base safely in 22 of his 23 road games with an at-bat this season, hitting .289 (26-for-90) with seven doubles, five homers, and 14 RBI…Owns an .880 OPS as a visitor this year, compared to a .389 mark at Rogers Centre.
NO GAUS FOR CONCERN: Kevin Gausman takes the hill for his 8th start of the year today…Over his last five outings, has struck out 44 batters while issuing just four walks…Marks the 3rd five-game span in franchise history with at least 40 punchouts and four-or-fewer walks, joining his own five-game span from April 21-May 13, 2022, and Robbie Ray’s stretch from May 5-27, 2021. The 32-year old ranks T-4th among all MLB hurlers with 58 strikeouts this year, the most punchouts in a pitcher’s first seven starts of a season in TOR history…Also sits 2nd in the AL in strikeouts per nine (12.43), and 14th in innings pitched (42.0).
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Blue Jays are at the end of a 10-day, nine-game road trip (3-5 so far) with four contests in Boston (0-4), three in Pittsburgh (3-0), and two in Philadelphia (0-1)…Their 24 road games played are the most in the Majors (4 teams – 21G)…Own a 12-12 road record this year for a .500 win% (8th in the AL). Blue Jays hitters lead MLB in road hits (220) while ranking 2nd in the AL in road AVG (.259), 3rd in SLG (.424), 3rd in OBP (.331), and 3rd in OPS (.755)…The pitching staff ranks 11th in the AL in road ERA (4.96), 13th in road opponents’ batting average (.271), and 14th in road WHIP (1.41).
HITTING IT: The Blue Jays have notched 324 hits so far this season, 4th most in the AL…Are also 4th in the AL in team batting average (.260), 4th in OBP (.335), 4th in OPS (.753), and 6th in SLG (.418). Toronto’s offence has racked up at least 10 hits on 15 occasions this year, tied for 7th most among MLB clubs…Since the start of 2022, the Blue Jays have 81 such games, three more than any other team (COL – 78). The Blue Jays are one of two AL teams who have scored in every game this season (also: LAA)…Have gone 54 straight games without being shut out, the 2nd-longest active streak in the Majors (LAA – 78G).
INTERTAINMENT: Toronto is playing its 3rd interleague series of the year (1-2 at STL, 3-0 at PIT)…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 .660 win% in Interleague Play (31-15) is 3rd best among all MLB clubs (TB – .714, LAD – .675). The Blue Jays have hit 652 home runs all-time in Interleague Play, the most among all 30 teams (2nd: CWS – 619 HR).
EXTRA! EXTRA!: The Blue Jays have notched 113 extra-base hits this season, good for T-4th most among American League clubs…Have recorded an extra-base hit in all but one game this season, doing so in each of their last 34 contests, trailing only the Pirates (63) for the longest active streak in the Majors.
VS. THE PHILLIES: All-Time: 42-29
2023: 0-1 Road: 21-16
Road: 0-1 Citizens Bank Park: 16-12
The Blue Jays took three of the four meetings with the Phillies last season, splitting the two-game set at Citizens Bank Park in September…Have won five of the last seven contests, averaging 12 hits and more than seven runs per game, outscoring the Phils, 51-36…Toronto’s .592 win% (42-29) against Philadelphia is their highest against any team they’ve faced at least 25 times, according to Stats Perform. Daulton Varsho faced the Phillies five times last season as a member of the Diamondbacks, going 8-for-22 (.364) with three doubles, a homer, and four RBI, while notching a couple of three-hit games… Over 11 career meetings, has batted .300 (12-for-40) with five extra-base hits and four RBI (.808 OPS). Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit safely in all four games vs. PHI in 2022, going 4-for-18 (.222) with a pair of home runs and five RBI…Is a career .271 hitter (13-for-48) over 14 meetings with the Phils, notching a double, five homers, and 10 RBI (.604 SLG, .973 OPS). Alejandro Kirk also hit safely in all four meetings with Philly last season, hitting .467 (7-for-15) with four walks next to just two strikeouts for a .579 OBP and a 1.046 OPS.
STARTING PITCHER – Kevin Gausman, RHP #34
Making his 8th start of the season and his 6th on the road…Took the loss his last time out on 5/4 at BOS, giving up a career-high-tying 8 earned runs on 10 hits and a walk over 3.1 innings with 4 strikeouts. His 58 strikeouts this season are the most ever by a Blue Jay in their first seven outings of a season (2nd: Gausman – 54K in 2022), and are tied for 2nd most in the AL in 2023 (1st: Shohei Ohtani – 66K). Owns a 2.79 FIP since the start of the 2020 season, the 2nd-best mark among qualified hurlers (Corbin Burnes – 2.60).
Tossed 7.0 shutout innings on 4/29 vs. SEA, giving up 5 hits with a walk and a career-high 13 strikeouts…Threw a season-high 108 pitches (74 strikes) while inducing a career-high 28 swing-and-misses…Got 20 whiffs on his splitter alone, the most on a single pitch in the Majors this season, and the most on a splitter in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008). Earned his 2nd win of the year on 4/23 at NYY, hurling 7.0 shutout frames with 3 hits, no walks, and a season-high-tying 11 strikeouts. Gave up a career-high-tying 8 runs (7ER) over 4.2 innings on 4/17 at HOU (7H, 2BB, 5K). Took a no-decision on 4/12 vs. DET, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits over a season-high 8.0 innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts, his most as a Blue Jay…Surrendered a solo home run to Nick Maton with one out in the 4th inning, ending his streak of 15.1 innings without allowing an earned run, the longest stretch to begin a season in franchise history (2nd: Matt Shoemaker – 14.0 IP in 2019). Picked up his 1st win of the year on 4/6 at KC, throwing 6.0 shutout frames with 4 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts…Didn’t allowed an earned run for a 2nd straight outing to begin the season. Took the loss in his season debut on 4/1 at STL, giving up 3 runs (all unearned) on 8 hits and a walk over 6.0 innings with 7 strikeouts.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES NOTES:
GAME #36 RECAP: The Phillies defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-4, in front of a sold-out Citizens Bank Park … Starter Aaron Nola (W, 3-2) went 6.0 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts … Nick Castellanos homered, scored twice and had 3 hits as the Phillies had 7 walks as a team on the night compared to 6 strikeouts … The bullpen did not allow an ER in 3.0 innings in relief of Nola.
BEDLAM AT THE BANK: Through 17 games at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are averaging 39,850 in attendance per game which ranks 3rd among all clubs in MLB behind only the Dodgers (47,982) and Cardinals (39,921) … Of Philadelphia’s first 17 games at home, 10 have been sellouts (59%) and 13 have been over 35,000 (76%) … Sunday’s crowd of 44,669 was the largest regular season crowd at CBP since June 22, 2019, against Miami (44,722).
WHEELS UP: Today’s starter Zack Wheeler enters the day with 9 years and 140 days of Major League service time – he is set to reach 10 years of service on June 11 when the Phillies are at home against the Dodgers … Today will be Wheeler’s 43rd career start as a member of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park (since 7/25/20) and he is 18-9 with a 2.36 ERA (71 ER, 270.2 IP) and 283 strikeouts to 55 walks (5.15 SO/BB ratio) … He has held the 1,047 batters he has faced to a .207/.259/.318 slash line (.577 OPS) as the Phillies have gone 25-17 in his first 42 starts (.595 win %) … Wheeler has faced 146 straight hitters at CBP without allowing a home run (last: MIA’s JJ Bleday, 8/9/22).
GLOVELY: The Phillies enter today’s game with a .990 fielding percentage as a team that ranks 4th among all NL clubs and 6th in MLB … Individually, Bryson Stott has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 139 total chances at second base … Stott leads the Phillies this season with 5 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and ranks T-3rd among all MLB second basemen, trailing only TEX’s Marcus Semien (6 DRS) & SD’s Ha-seong Kim (6 DRS) … Stott has played 81 career games at second base (75 GS) and has not made an error in 308 total chances to begin his career … Per Elias, Stott has the longest errorless streak at second base to begin a Phillies career – he eclipsed Tomas Perez’s previous streak of 57 games, April 2, 2001-August 2, 2002 … The last major league second baseman to start his career at second base with 81 consecutive errorless games was Christian Arroyo who went 108 straight games from May 16, 2017-Sept. 28, 2022.
CASTY’S BACK, TELL A FRIEND: Phils right fielder Nick Castellanos has gotten ahead 1-0 in 50 plate appearances this season – after taking ball one, Castellanos is slashing .444/.500/.778 with a 1.278 OPS that ranks 4th among all MLB players … He has nine extra-base hits (6 2B, 3 HR) after getting ahead 1-0 which ranks T-2nd among all NL players, trailing only MIA’s Jorge Soler – last season, Castellanos got ahead 1-0 in 74 plate appearances and totaled only 10 extra-base hits as he slashed .197/.276/.299 with a .575 OPS that ranked 201st out of 203 qualified hitters.
PHILLY SPECIAL: Since Rob Thomson took over as manager on June 3, 2022, the Phillies have played 71 games at Citizens Bank Park (45-26 record) and are 15-5-2 in series play with a +73 run differential (371-298) … The Phils have scored 371 runs in those 71 games (5.23 runs per game) and are slashing .271/.337/.465 with an .802 OPS … Among all major league clubs at home since June 3, 2022, the date Thomson took over, the Phillies rank 2nd in OPS & SLG, 3rd in AVG and 4th in runs per game & OBP … Philadelphia’s .634 winning percentage at home since Thomson took over ranks 3rd in the National League behind Atlanta (.718) & the Dodgers (.707) and 5th in MLB.
A REAL UNICORN: Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto ranks T-3rd among all MLB players this year in triples (3) and trails only teammate Brandon Marsh (4) and KC’s Bobby Witt Jr. (4) for the major league lead … Among all active catchers in MLB, Realmuto’s 31 career triples are equal to the next three catchers behind him, combined (Salvador Perez – 11, Wilson Contreras & James McCann – 10) … Realmuto, 5-for-7 in stolen bases this year, ranks in the 88th percentile among MLB players with an average sprint speed of 28.6 feet/second – that ranks 4thon the Phillies, behind only Trea Turner (30.0 ft/sec), Edmundo Sosa (29.3 ft/sec) and Marsh (28.7 ft/sec).
ANGEL IN THE OUTFIELD: Center fielder Brandon Marsh has more than doubled his walk rate from 6.1% last season to 13.2% entering play today … His 7.1% jump in walk rate from last year is the fourth largest spike of any player in baseball from 2022 to 2033, behind only Ian Happ (+9.7%), Luis Rengifo (+8.8%) and Dansby Swanson (+7.9%) … Marsh walked twice last night and drew his 16th walk of the year in his 120th plate appearance … Last season, Marsh reached 16 walks on June 22 in his 232nd plate appearance … Marsh is slashing .317/.413/.587 with a 1.000 OPS this year – his 170.6 OPS+ ranks 6th in MLB behind only OAK’s Brent Rooker (205.6), ATL’s Sean Murphy (189.4), TOR’s Matt Chapman (188.3), TB’s Yandy Diaz (187.8) and TB’s Randy Arozarena (174.2).
TODAY’S STARTER – ZACK WHEELER • RHP #45
2023: 3-2, 4.26 ERA Career: 77-59, 3.45 ERA
LAST START: 5/5 vs BOS: L, 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, HB … Wheeler vs Sale … The Phillies fell to the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly… Down 3-0 in the 4th, the Phillies rallied to tie the game with 3 runs and 4 hits in the inning … The Red Sox scored 2 runs in the 6th to take a 5-3 lead and held on for the win … Connor Brogdon, Gregory Soto and Andrew Vasquez made scoreless appearances in relief of Wheeler.
• Start of a Strong Finish: Wheeler’s last start against TOR, on 9/21/22 at CBP, was his first after a nearly month-long stint on the IL with forearm tendinitis … He proceeded to post a 0.60 ERA (1 ER, 15.0 IP) with 1 BB and 15 SO, while facing 7 totals batters over the minimum in his final 3 regular season starts … It also kicked off a stretch in which he posted a 1.05 ERA (4 ER, 34.1 IP) and 0.58 WHIP (4 BB, 16 H) over his final 3 regular season starts and first 3 postseason starts, through his Game 1 NLCS nod
• In The Yard: Wheeler has not allowed a HR in his last 6 starts, tying his career-best homerless start streak (other: 6/10-7/7/21) … He has surrendered just 1 HR this season and is 1 of just 5 pitchers in MLB (and along with Dustin May, only 2 in NL) with at least 35.0 IP and 1 or 0 HR allowed … Only two other Phillies pitchers since 2000 – Vance Worley in 2012 and Roy Halladay in 2010 and 2011 – have allowed 1 or 0 homers over his first 7 starts of a season
• Soft Landing: Wheeler’s 30.0% whiff % this season (% of swings and issues on overall swings) is on a career-high pace and far over his career average of 24.7%) … When batters do make contact this season, they are averaging an exit velocity of 84.7 mph, which is the 2nd-lowest in MLB among pitchers with at least 100 batted ball events, trailing only Marcus Stroman (85.8 mph)
• Best in the Biz: Wheeler’s 1.3 fWAR thus far is 3rd among all NL pitchers with, behind only Zac Gallen (2.4) and Spencer Strider (1.6) … He ranks T-6th among all major ML pitchers … Since joining the Phillies in 2020, Wheeler’s 14.7 fWAR is the 2nd-highest in MLB, trailing only Corbin Burnes’ 14.9, and is more than a full win over the 3rd place pitcher (Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola, 13.5)
• vs AL East: 3-6, 4.56 ERA (50 ER, 98.2 IP) in 17 starts
• vs Interleague: 11-11, 4.33 ERA (95 ER, 197.2 IP) in 35 starts
• 2023: 1-1, 3.97 ERA (10 ER, 22.2 IP) in 4 starts
• Career: 37-32, 3.38 ERA (237 ER, 630.1 IP) in 102 starts
• CBP: 21-10, 2.49 ERA (87 ER, 314.2 IP) in 49 starts
• Recorded his 17th career double-digit strikeout game and 9th as a Phillie on 4/23 vs COL, and his 23 swings and misses were a new career high
• Made his 200th career start on 4/23 vs COL
• On 4/12 vs MIA extended his streak of home starts without allowing a HR to 4 and his streak of 5 or fewer hits allowed at home to 9