I was so sure we were going to see Alen Hanson in this series, but instead, Eric Sogard and Richard Ureña will handle middle infield duties.
Let's make it 5 straight wins tonight! #LetsGoBlueJays pic.twitter.com/SeFRAX1McA— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 23, 2019
Ureña is basically the 23-year old “with ceiling” version of Alen Hanson. He’s a switch-hitter who can play second, third, and short, and has a little bit of pop (37 home runs in 586 minor league games; Hanson has 57 in 740). A key difference is that Ureña has been much worse in terms of plate discipline (4:1 strikeouts to walk ratio in the minors; Hanson was closer to 2:1) which is shocking because Hanson has been remarkably bad in that department since being rostered by the Giants (84 strikeouts to 10 walks).
Meanwhile, Sogard was called up last week and has nine hits in 23 plate appearances (two doubles, no home runs). This is the exact kind of pesky leadoff hitter who makes memories against the Giants. He also looks like a dentist who’s a weekend warrior.
A youth pastor who runs a Crossfit class on Thursday mornings.
A sober former roadie who’s now a grip on major motion pictures.
A sports information assistant who occasionally gets thrust into giving quotes to the press when the AD isn’t around for some reason.
Meanwhile, Trent Thornton makes his fifth major league start against this lineup:
#SFGiants lineup today in a game that nobody in Toronto will watch because A) Vladdy Jr. didn't get called up and B) the Leafs are playing a Game 7. pic.twitter.com/mD5V373NwP— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) April 23, 2019
Thornton was acquired from the Astros in January 2018 and had a solid if unremarkable year in Triple-A Fresno (122 strikeouts in 124 innings with a 4.85 ERA). MLB.com gives him a 60-grade fastball and Statcast shows he averages 93 mph with it, though in the video I watched, he went 94-95 with ease. He also averages 2,346 rpm with it, which puts that pitch well above the average spin rate of a major league fastball.
Here’s what we’ll need to watch with Thornton, though: his curveball. It’s his put away pitch, batters can’t hit it (.063 batting average on the 82 times he’s thrown it) and the recorded spin rate on it is a heart-stopping 3,037 rpm. The major league average is 2,308 rpm. Peak a gander:
He has yet to pitch more than 5.2 innings this year (in his first two starts, he went 5 and 5.2), and was pulled after 3 and 4.2 in his last two starts.
Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija struck out seven Nats in his last start but gave up two home runs in five innings. The Giants have a well-rested bullpen and no need to worry about pinch hitting with the DH available, so, there’s a decent chance we’ll see a quick hook if he runs into trouble early on.