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9/16/23: Scoreboard Watching Preview

Some matchups to whet your appetite before the M’s take the field!

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, friends, and welcome to another round of scoreboard watching! While today isn’t quite an off-day for the M’s, their tilt against the Dodgers at 6:40pm PDT is the very last game in today’s full slate. There are a few games relevant to the Mariners’ playoff hopes leading up to tonight, so feel free to pop in and follow along as each gets underway. Treat this space like you would any Mariners game thread!

Red Sox at Blue Jays, 12:07pm PDT

The Red Sox will look to bounce back after being shut out by José Berríos and friends yesterday, and will turn to longtime lefty and strikeout artist Chris Sale on the mound. Injuries over the last several seasons have taken their toll on him, and while he’s still getting swings and misses, a homer problem and ground balls vanishing has led him to a 4.88 ERA across 86.2 innings this year. New callups Wilyer Abreu and Ceddanne Rafaela providing a new spark in Boston’s lineup, though, and if Sale can find a way to keep the ball in the yard - kind of a tall order at Rogers Centre - he should be able to keep the bats in the game.

Toronto will counter with a Chris of their own in Bassitt, who leads the club in innings pitched. It’s been another solid season for the veteran righty, but his FIP of 4.47 has been rather pedestrian, and represents a pretty big spike from the 3.66 mark he put up last year with the Mets. He’s coming off of a shelling by the Rangers on Monday that kicked off the four-game sweep, where he allowed five runs over 5.1 innings, but he should figure to go decently deep into today’s matchup. Although the Jays showed they aren’t quite dead yet last night, their only offense yesterday came from one swing of the bat from Vlad Jr., and could hopefully start fading anew pretty quickly.

Rangers at Guardians, 3:10pm PDT

The Rangers experienced a major vibe boost on the backs of a four-game sweep of the Jays. Thankfully for us, they couldn’t keep it going yesterday, and will try to put yesterday’s 12-3 dismantling behind them. They’ll be sending out Dane Dunning to try to even the series, who they acquired after the 2020 season from the White Sox for Lance Lynn. Used in more of a swingman capacity this year, Dunning has turned in three straight seasons of durable, if unspectacular production, posting a 4.28 FIP since becoming a Ranger.

The Guardians will retaliate with rookie right-hander Tanner Bibee, who cracked several Top 100 lists before making his big league debut in April. He’s put up a strong season, postiong a 3.59 FIP over two dozen starts. Bibee is coming off a tough-luck loss against the Angels on Sunday, where he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, but if Cleveland’s bats can come close to matching the production they put up yesterday, a similar outing should be more than enough.

Astros at Royals, 4:10pm PDT

Last night’s loss by the Mariners went down a bit easier thanks to the Astros dropping the series opener to Kansas City 4-2, but J.P. France will be starting to attempt to strike back. We know who the impostor France is - a shiny ERA has masked some fairly unsightly under-the-hood numbers, with his FIP over a full run over his ERA. A decent ground ball rate and a strong strand rate despite a below-average whiff rate have helped keep him afloat, and he’s coming off six innings of one-run ball, albeit with five walks.

It’s probably too much to ask of the Royals to swipe a series win, but they’re putting up the best guy to give them a chance: lefty Cole Ragans. Ragans made his debut for Texas late last year before being traded at the deadline in August for Aroldis Chapman, and has hit the ground running ever since he came over to KC. A sub-2 FIP and taking home AL Pitcher of the Month in August? I’m glad Royals fans have something else to cheer for besides Bobby Witt Jr. Ragans is coming off of a shaky outing against the Blue Jays on Sunday - while he allowed just one hit over 5.2 innings, six walks and three wild pitches led to a pair of runs scoring as the Royals fell 5-2. If he can dial back in to his August form, though? Kansas City just might get to play some more spoiler.