Blue Jays, Marlins seek series win
On Sunday, they play the rubber game of the set, and both starting pitchers will be looking for firsts.
In the case of Miami’s Jeff Brigham, everything will be a first because Sunday will mark his major league debut. He takes the rotation spot held by fellow rookie right-hander Pablo Lopez (2-4, 4.14 ERA), who will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
On the other side, Toronto right-hander Sean Reid-Foley (0-2, 8.68) will also be looking for the first win of his major league career.
Brigham, 26, had a 2.36 ERA in the minors this year, the second-best figure of any starter in Miami’s organization.
A former Washington Huskies pitcher, Brigham was a fourth-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 and was traded to the Marlins the following year.
Because of injuries, Brigham made just 11 starts at Class A in 2017. But he bounced back this season, dominating Double-A with a 4-1 record and a 1.18 ERA. And after getting promoted to Triple-A New Orleans, he went 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA.
“Brigham’s best pitch is his fastball, which can get up to 98 (mph) and has late, arm-side run,” Baseball America scouts wrote about the 6-foot, 200-pounder. “He has a low 80s slider that has plus potential, and he has shown feel for his changeup, which is clearly his third-best pitch.
“He has to improve his control and show he can stay healthy.”
In the past, Brigham had been slowed by elbow, shoulder and oblique injuries.
“Jeff is a guy we’ve been talking about even before the Lopez injury,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We were looking at ways to get him starts. Now we should be able to get him four or five starts.”
Meanwhile, Reid-Foley is making his third start of the season after his major league debut on Aug. 13.
In his most recent start, Reid-Foley lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs in an 11-6 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 18.
“Our starting pitching has been getting hit around pretty good the past week or 10 days,” Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It’s putting us behind the eight-ball.”
On Sunday, Reid-Foley could be facing two players just off the disabled list. Rookie center fielder Lewis Brinson, who had been out with a hip injury, returned to the lineup on Saturday and went 1-for-4. He is batting just .187 this season.
“I’m better than that,” Brinson said of his current batting average and a stretch this year where he went 1-for-36 with 15 strikeouts.
“It’s been disappointing. Some things didn’t go my way, but I’m just trying to have a strong last month.”
Before he got hurt, Brinson hit .267 in June, offering some hope.
Meanwhile, Marlins veteran third baseman Martin Prado also came off the DL on Saturday and went 1-for-4 with a three-run double to deep left-center field, leading Miami to a 6-3 win.
“I hope it starts a winning streak,” Prado said. “This win was big for me personally and for the team.”