Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman takes on Reynaldo Lopez to open series

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 14: Reynaldo Lopez #40 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 14: Reynaldo Lopez #40 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

On Friday, July 27, the Blue Jays will start a three-game set in Chicago against the White Sox. The Sox will send Reynaldo Lopez to the mound and the Blue Jays will call Marcus Stroman’s number.

Reynaldo Lopez pitched against the Blue Jays earlier this season. In fact, it was the first start of his season. The 24-year-old pitched six innings, allowed just one run on two hits, and struck out six. The only run came off of a home run by Josh Donaldson.

While the Blue Jays caught the right-hander on the road last time, they will have to play him at home this time around. While pitching at home, the righty has been great, posting a 3.17 ERA. However, while on the road, he has struggled to a 4.95 ERA. The key killer on the road, it seems, has been the base on balls.

While pitching in Guaranteed Rate Field he has walked just 16 batters in 54 innings pitched. However, while on the road, he has offered free passes to 35 batters in 63 2/3 innings pitched. For reference, this is the difference between a 2.66 BB/9 at home and a 4.98 BB/9 on the road.

Lopez has not been good through the month of July. Through four starts he has allowed a 5.70 ERA, with just 16 strikeouts to 12 walks. As well, he has allowed more than a hit an inning in the month, giving up 27 hits in 23 2/3 innings pitched.

Overall, the right-handed hurler has been quite mediocre for the season. He has posted a 4.13 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 1.351 WHIP, and 99 ERA+. In total, he has been worth a career-high 1.0 fWAR.

Through 20 starts on the season, he has mixed between a wide selection of pitches. While he relies heavily on a four-seam fastball, he will also throw a slider, change-up, curveball, and cutter.

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The young right-hander has thrown his four seam fastball 59.3% of the time this season. The four seamer is fast, posting an average velocity of 95.99 mph. The heater has been hit incredibly hard, allowing twelve home runs this season. As well, it has produced 40 walks and just 37 strikeouts.

Lopez has used his slider 18.7% of the time this season. The breaking ball is not that hard, maintaining an average velocity of 84.61 mph. However, the pitch has been quite effective, producing 35 strikeouts to just three walks. As well, it has allowed just five extra-base hits this season—good for a .284 SLGA.

The White Sox hurler has changed speeds on batters 14% of the time this season. The off-speed pitch is a sizable drop from the quick fastball, averaging a velocity of 83.81 mph. The change has not been that good this season, allowing a .274 BAA and .468 SLGA.

Chicago’s starter completes his pitch offerings with occasional curveballs and cutters. The hook and cut-fastball have been thrown 5.38% and 2.14% of the time, respectively. The big breaker has been terrible, coughing up a .429 BAA and .571 SLGA. However, the cutter has been slightly better, giving up a .250 BAA and .417 SLGA.

The sizable gap between Lopez’ ERA and FIP is quite surprising, given Chicago’s place in the standings. Thus it is a fair assumption that the righty has gotten lucky more than he’s been helped by great defence. His July ERA—which was mentioned earlier—is a good example of how this BABIP luck is starting to turn on him.

Even more concerning than his ERA and FIP are his strikeout and walk numbers. The right-handed hurler has struck out batters at a poor 16.4% clip and 6.35 K/9. As well, he has walked a high amount of batters, giving up a 10.1% BB-rate and 3.90 BB/9.

In very limited experience, the Blue Jays have struggled greatly against the young starter. Curtis Granderson is really the only hitter who has done well, going two-for-four with a home run. While Granderson has been good, six Toronto batters have taken the collar against the right-hander.

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The Blue Jays will take the field against Lopez on Friday night, looking to score more than just one run. While the team does not have good past numbers against the starter, he is in the middle of a terrible slump—making him vulnerable. As well, the most recent trade rumour, Marcus Stroman, will look to make another strong start against a weak team.