Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays set focus on Marlins

MLB

He lost weight, and now he’s gaining MVP support.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who entered this week ranked second to none in the majors in RBIs and homers, is set to lead the Toronto Blue Jays when they visit the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

Guerrero, who stands 6-foot-2, weighed more than 280 pounds last season. Following the 2020 season, he lost 42 pounds and is now fourth in the majors with a .337 batting average and first with a 1.111 OPS as well as 59 RBIs. His 23 homers were tied for the MLB lead heading into play Monday.

“One day, I woke up, looked in the mirror and said, ‘That’s it’,” Guerrero told reporters when asked what motivated him to lose weight.

Last winter, Guerrero worked four times a week with Blue Jays trainer Junior Rodriguez, and the improvement in performance has been obvious. In 221 at-bats last year, Guerrero hit .262 with nine homers and 33 RBIs. This year, in 252 at-bats, he has shot past those numbers. He has improved his agility at first base, and he leads the majors in on-base percentage (.440), while leading the American League in slugging percentage (.671).

Thanks in large part to Guerrero, the Jays are 22-19 on the road this year, putting them top-five in the majors in wins away from home.

The Jays, who won their two most recent road series, will start right-hander Ross Stripling (2-4, 4.64 ERA) on Tuesday. He is 0-1 with a 2.38 ERA in five appearances against the Marlins, including one start.

Stripling threw a season-high 101 pitches in his most recent start, a 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday. He struck out nine batters and allowed three hits, two walks and three runs, two earned, in 6 2/3 innings.

The Jays, who have won two straight games overall, are 4-7 when Stripling starts. This will be his first career start in Miami.

His counterpart on Tuesday will be Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara (4-6, 3.09 ERA). He has only faced Toronto once, and that was this year on June 1, a 5-1 loss. Alcantara lasted six innings in that game, allowing nine hits, no walks and four runs.

Alcantara has three straight quality starts since that loss to Toronto, allowing just three earned runs in 22 1/3 innings.

After posting 3.19 and 3.81 ERAs over his first two months this year, Alcantara boasts a 2.22 ERA in four starts this month.

At home this year, Alcantara has a 2.38 ERA in seven starts. On the road, he has a 3.75 ERA in eight starts.

The Marlins, who are in last place in the National League East, are at least above water at home (16-14). The Marlins are also coming off a successful road series, taking two of three games from the Chicago Cubs.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, they were blanked by the Cubs 2-0 on Sunday. Prior to that, the Marlins beat the Cubs 10-2 and 11-1.

“This was not the way we wanted to end (the road trip),” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after Sunday’s loss. “But I think we got back on track as far as being able to swing the bats.”

–Field Level Media

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