The Phillies will avoid the Blue Jays' best player in their doubleheader Thursday in Buffalo. Shortstop Bo Bichette, who was hitting .361 with five homers and four steals, was placed on the injured list with a knee sprain to begin the week. He has been their offensive catalyst for the last year.
Teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has received more hype but, to this point, Bichette has been the better player. In 60 games with the Blue Jays, Bichette has hit .323 with a .961 OPS, 16 homers and 22 doubles. Bichette's defense has also been above-average. Guerrero was shaky enough at third base as a rookie that he's already transitioned across the diamond to first.
Guerrero Jr. is off to a slow start at the plate this season. Through 21 games, he's hit .222 with a .292 on-base percentage, three homers and six RBI. He has big power and the Phillies are hoping it takes him another day to figure things out.
With Bichette out, the biggest threat in Toronto's lineup at this moment is the streaky Randal Grichuk, who homered twice Wednesday and is batting .344. Grichuk is the hottest hitter in the AL right now with six homers in his last six games and six multi-hit games in his last seven.
The Phillies will start Spencer Howard in Game 1 and Vince Velasquez in Game 2 of the seven-inning doubleheader.
In Game 1, the Phillies face veteran right-hander Chase Anderson, who's gone three innings in each of his two starts.
The Phils have played two doubleheaders in 2020 and gone 1-3 in the four games, splitting with the Yankees and losing both ends to the Braves.
The Phillies' remaining doubleheaders after Thursday are:
• Sept. 8 vs. Red Sox at home
• Sept. 11 at Miami
• Sept. 13 at Miami
• Sept. 18 vs. Blue Jays at home
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