Can Mariners’ Paxton Follow His Gem with Win vs. Blue Jays?

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 7, 2018 11:37 AM UTC

Monday, May. 7, 2018 11:37 AM UTC

Off the best start of his career, what will Canadian lefty James Paxton do for an encore when he faces the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night?

Seattle Mariners (19-14, 21-12 O/U) at Toronto Blue Jays (19-16, 17-14-4 O/U)Free MLB Pick: Under (& Jays)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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The Seattle Mariners open a seven-game road trip Tuesday night (7:07 ET) with a visit to the Toronto Blue Jays. Seattle is stuck in the wrong division as it would be leading a few others right now but likely won’t win the AL West with the Angels and Astros to deal with. Seattle lost its first series in a few weeks over the weekend, dropping two of three at home to the Angels.

This starts a six-game homestand for Toronto, with Boston to follow the Mariners into town. The Jays snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday with a 2-1 win at Tampa Bay to avoid the series sweep. Last year, Toronto was 6-1 against the Mariners, winning all four at Rogers Centre. Josh Donaldson hit .417 against Seattle pitching albeit in just three games. Justin Smoak was 10-for-25 with three homers and seven RBIs. He spent five seasons with the Mariners. The Jays signed him in December 2014 after the Mariners waived him. Jean Segura led Seattle in 2017 with a .412 average against Blue Jays pitching.

Two injury questions for the Blue Jays. Outfielder Curtis Granderson missed his second straight game Sunday with a hamstring issue but might be ready to return following Monday’s off day. Shortstop Aledmys Diaz left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative but Diaz was due for an MRI on Monday. He is hitting .216 with six home runs and 13 RBIs. In addition, closer Roberto Osuna was placed on administrative leave by MLB following his arrest Tuesday morning in Toronto for assaulting a woman. He could be looking at a lengthy suspension.

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The game needed a hero.
We needed a win.

Enter, @KPILLAR4. #ManOfSteal

— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 6, 2018

Probable Pitchers: Paxton vs. Stroman

I would imagine this has extra meaning for Mariners southpaw James Paxton (1-1, 4.19) because he’s from Canada, albeit across country in British Columbia. The 29-year-old comes off the best start of his career, shutting out Oakland on five hits over seven innings with 16 strikeouts. Paxton was already at 105 pitches so he wasn’t given a shot to try and better the MLB record of 20, held by Max Scherzer, Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens (twice). Of Paxton’s 105 pitches, a whopping 80 of them were strikes.

Paxton was the first Mariners pitcher with at least 16 Ks since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson had a team record 19 on Aug. 8, 1997. Paxton was also just the fifth pitcher in the Live Ball Era (since 1920 with at least 16Ks in seven or fewer innings, joining the Big Unit, Jake Peavy (twice), Cliff Lee and Michael Pineda. All those guys but Peavy pitched for the Mariners at one point.

Paxton’s 17.0 K/9 is first in the majors among starters by a mile. He’s 2-1 with a 6.32 ERA in three career starts in Toronto. Josh Donaldson has seen him more than any Toronto hitter, going 6-for-15 with two doubles and homer. Smoak is 1-for-3. Kendrys Morales, another former Mariner, 1-for-7.

Toronto’s Marcus Stroman (0-4, 7.52) looked like one of the better young pitchers in baseball last year with 13 wins, a 3.09 ERA and WAR of 5.8. This year he’s 0-4 with a 7.52 ERA, 1.64 WHIP and has a WAR of negative 0.7. Maybe Stroman figured things out in his last start as he allowed two runs in a season-high seven innings but still lost at the Twins. Stroman said he introduced his cut fastball into his repertoire for that game and threw is around 20-25 times. Stroman had given up at least four runs and failed to complete six innings in each of his previous five starts (8.88 ERA).

In two career appearances vs. the Mariners, Stroman is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Nelson Cruz is 4-for-9 off him. Segura is 3-for-7. Robinson Cano 0-for-3. No Mariner has gone yard off Stroman.

  • Blue Jays are 9-0 in their last 9 Tuesday games.
  • Under is 7-2-2 in Paxton’s last 11 road starts.
  • Under is 8-2-1 in Blue Jays last 11 after scoring 2 runs or less in their previous game.

Like the ‘under’ for a Tuesday MLB pick. Paxton is nasty and Stroman is way better than his numbers indicate. The ‘under’ 7-1 in Paxton’s past eight vs. teams with a winning record. It’s 7-2-1 in Stroman’s last 10 starts after allowing two runs or fewer in the previous game and 4-0 in the past four meetings overall. Also, a smaller lean to Toronto.

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