Blue Jays vs. Astros: Full series preview and pitching matchups
Game 2: August 13 – 1:07 ET
Collin McHugh (7-9, 4.69 ERA, 3.78 FIP) vs.
Aaron Sanchez (11-2, 2.85 ERA, 3.30 FIP)
Coming off 3.3 and 3.9 fWAR season, McHugh was looking like a legitimate number 2-3 major league starter for an absolute bargain, but he hasn’t nearly been getting the same results this year. His 2016 WAR is still strong at 2.4 due to his strong FIP of 3.78 because of good strikeout and walk numbers, but he’s struggled with the home run ball, which is the main cause of the rise in his ERA.
His 2015 ERA of 3.89 was actually higher than his 3.58 FIP, but those numbers have reversed this year. He still grades out well due to his ability to get strikeouts (8.88 K/9) and limit walks (2.52 BB/9), but his home run rate has gone from 0.84 to 1.19. Compounding problems, his hard hit rate has jumped from a respectable 25.1% to a relatively high 31.1%.
It seems like he’s having an issue of leaving too many pitches in the big part of the zone, and despite the fact that he’s been able to get whiffs with his solid stuff, major league hitters will make you pay for mistakes in the zone.
It reminds me a little of what we’ve seen with Stroman this year. Good stuff, good control, but at times, simply leaving too many pitches in the heart of the zone, leading to an increase in the amount extra base hits given up. His velocity, pitch usage, and whiff rates are largely the same, but the ISO and SLG on his three main pitches (four-seam, cutter, and curve) have all risen to a large degree. This points at a problem with pitch location within the zone.
With all that being said, it will be important for Jays hitter to take advantage of these mistakes. Obviously, this could easily be said for any starter, but when a successful pitcher like McHugh is having these issues, it’s important to take advantage of that, because he’s proven he can shut down an offence when they don’t.
Only one of his last 10 starts has resulted in more than three ER, so he’s found his groove a little bit in the second half, but the fact he has still struggled with the home run ball during this time is a good sign for the Jays offence. The last time the Jays faced him, they hit three home runs, all of the solo variety, so it they can do a better job of getting on base, I like this matchup for them.
Sanchez is set to make his second start since the six man rotation was announced, and it was the first time since June 12 against the Orioles that he’s allowed more than 3 ER. His velocity was excellent and all of his pitches looked very sharp, but his command wasn’t completely in tack.
This shouldn’t be any cause for concern, and there wasn’t anything else I saw that should inhibit him moving forward. Expect Sanchez to get back to what’s made him extremely successful this season.
Next: Will Stroman dominate the Astros again?