DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
The Blue Jays enter today's game against the Cleveland Indians down 3-1 in the ALCS. After beating Indians ace Corey Kluber last night, the Jays will face inexperienced lefty Ryan Merritt in game 5. Merritt is a relative unknown to MLB, as he has just 1 start and 11.0 IP in the majors. So what do we know about Merritt, and will the Jays hit him?
Ryan Merritt was 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his 11 IP at the MLB level. In this time, he struck out 6 and did not allow a walk. The 24 year old spent most of this season in AAA, where he recorded a 11-8 record and 3.70 ERA. His stuff consists of a fastball, which he trows 86-89 MPH, as well as a cutter, a changeup, and the occasional curveball. With a repertoire similar to that of his fellow starter, it will be interesting to see whether or not he can pitch with similar results to Marco Estrada. Unlike Estrada however, he has averaged 2 GB/FB in the majors, and although this may come down to small sample size, it is an interesting trend to watch for tonight.
With numbers like this, he seems like a prototypical number 4 or 5 starter. He's good enough to have some success, but maybe not against the Blue Jays. Given that he is left handed, I expect him to struggle against the middle of the Jays order, which is full of right handed power hitters. Despite his sub par stuff, the Jays need to score early, or they might not get a chance to score at all. If the Jays can't score in the first couple of innings, Terry Francona might just put in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen for multiple innings, leaving Toronto with little chance of a comeback.
Although none of the Blue Jays have faced Merritt at the major league level, though Dalton Pompey has managed to go 4 for 11 in his minor league career. Because of this, I was slightly surprised to see Pompey on the bench instead of Ezequiel Carrera or Melvin Upton Jr., but Gibby has decided to stick with the veteran at DH, and the hot hitter in LF. One question, is whether any veterans approach Pompey about information about the young lefty. You never know, this information could prove vital in the Jays third elimination game of the postseason.
Although I expect the Jays would crush Merritt on almost any other night, it will be interesting to see whether of not the Jays can take advantage early. If not, the Jays could be in for a tough night of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, especially if Cleveland leads early. If the Jays score big in the early innings, it remains possible that Cleveland pulls him early, and counts on the bullpen to keep things close.
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