Game 107, Blue Jays at Mariners
Blake Beavan vs. Carlos Villanueva, 7:10pm
Hisashi Iwakuma and Blake Beavan both had extremely encouraging (and somewhat unexpected) quality starts against the Rays recently. Iwakuma backed that with one of the great pitching performances of the year the other night – 13 strikeouts and 18 swinging strikes are impressive no matter who they come against. Blake Beavan isn’t going to get 13 Ks, but he too can show his new whiffier ways aren’t the product of a bad opposing line-up.
Carlos Villanueva is a soft-tossing right-hander who’s been forced into the rotation thanks to the injury problems the Jays have had this season. Once there, he’s been very solid, and his season stats look great – sub 3 ERA, 6-0 record. I’m still skeptical, given that Aaron Laffey had similarly gaudy stats despite a sub-90 fastball and so-so command. Villanueva has a good slider, so he’s traditionally had some platoon splits, so that’s why Jaso catches and that’s why Eric Thames makes his M’s debut. Incidentally, I’m glad to see Wells and Thames get a shot in the same line-up, at least for now. While he’s been scuffling a bit recently, Casper Wells has done enough to earn some regular playing time, especially given Gutierrez’s injury. The M’s may yet need to run more of a strict Wells/Thames platoon, but they don’t need to do so before it becomes absolutely necessary.
2: Saunders (CF)
3: Montero (DH)
4: Jaso (C)
6: Wells (RF)
8: Thames (LF)