This Round Goes to Jose Bautista & the Blue Jays

Ahhh, feels so good to beat the Texas Rangers at home doesn’t it? Toronto Blue Jays win this series 2-1. Not back considering that 2 of 3 games required back-up starting pitchers. Is there a greater nemesis in 2017 than the team with the 23-year-old hoodlum, Rougned Odor, who boxed our beloved Jose in the face? Even if Jose asks for it sometimes with all the glares that he shoots around the league. But hey, that’s the Toronto Blue Jays! We love old guys with attitude. We thrive on their antics and swagger.

Highlights from this series…

Josh Donaldson returned from the disabled list after missing 39 games, and he didn’t suck with a double in his first at bat. (Game 1)

Devon Travis hits his second career grand slam! (Game 2)

Jose Bautista and Rougned Odor both had 3-run homers, but Jose’s won the game, Rougned’s not enough.

Unfortunately, the Jays couldn’t get the bats going in game 3 but there were some positives. Stretched out relief pitcher Joe Biagini had a nice game and completed 6 innings. Russell Martin successfully threw out Elvis Andrus at 2nd (albeit after a wild pitch) and made some solid contact with the ball. (See video). And finally, struggling relief pitcher Jason Grilli was back to his usual self with a shutdown 8th inning and enthusiastic fist pumping (See video).

Blue Jays pick up Jason Grilli’s $3M option for 2017 — Sportsnet.ca

TORONTO — Relief pitcher Jason Grilli had his US$3 million team option for the 2017 season picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday morning. The 39-year-old Grilli was traded to Toronto on May 31 from the Atlanta Braves. He pitched 42 innings for the Blue Jays, striking out 58 with a 3.64 earned-run…

via Blue Jays pick up Jason Grilli’s $3M option for 2017 — Sportsnet.ca

Seemed like a pretty obvious move. Really the Jays are probably figuring it’s pretty cheap insurance. Kind of like Justin Smoak. Except that Grilli actually contributed pretty consistently through the season.

Seems like the Jays are going to let Osuna stay on as the closer. Unless of course another big option comes along, but they tried and failed that move last year didn’t they? (a la Drew Storen) Osuna was so good this year, why should they even try to move his to start? With a terrific core returning, I imagine they will leave him be.

Why going defence-first could be the best option for Blue Jays – Sportsnet.ca

via Why going defence-first could be the best option for Blue Jays – Sportsnet.ca

I though this brief article made a really good point. It seems unlikely that the Blue Jays will sign even one of their heavy hitters this off season. And there aren’t too many out there on the free agent market. Shap-kins hasn’t demonstrated that they’re a couple of guys that like to splurge on big name players. And a trade for a big hitter would require depletion of a non-existent farm system.

So, given that the greatest strength of the team right now is a strong and healthy pitching staff that makes hitters put balls in play and is returning next season, strengthening up the defense seems to make sense. Buck Martinez says a lot of nonsensical things, but I think his best quip was when he said that the Jays ‘don’t have an ace, but they have 4 Kings.’

Bye-bye post-season, hello off-season

[sigh] Well, it took a few days to get over the AL Championship Series loss to a decimated Cleveland team who eked out win after win… after win after win… against the cold Blue Jays offence. The offence that was revitalized down the stretch and destroyed the much hated Texas Rangers much to the joy of Blue Jay fans (including myself).

But a 4 day break put the bats back on ice and a game 4 will to win by Josh Donaldson wasn’t sustainable.

bba-alcs-indians-blue-jays-baseball-20161019

Comments by Jose Bautista before Game 5 about the rookie pitcher that was subbing in for Cleveland, left him a laughing stock when the Jays got shut out.

“With our experience in our lineup, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be shaking in his boots more than we are”

-Jose Bautista

I felt upset by the loss. I wanted them to end their season at Rogers with a win. I knew a comeback from a 3-0 deficit was remote, but just wanted to see one more win. And I think the disappointment had more to do with how they played than the loss itself.

The Twitter reaction was interesting. Most tweeters seemed happy and grateful for the second visit to the playoffs and getting to the final four. I get that. If I wasn’t a bandwagon fan, I would be grateful that I wasn’t reliving the 20 odd years where they didn’t make the playoffs at all.

But, I was mostly annoyed that there seemed to be a stubborn and conscious decision by the team not to adjust their approach. This philosophy comes from John Gibbons no doubt. But every other team with success in the playoffs, studied their opponents and adjusted their approach. It’s just necessary in the playoffs isn’t it? How did the Jays not learn their lesson in 2015 when they were killed by Kansas City’s small ball?

20161019-bluejays

Well, anyway. I will be asking myself these questions for the next 5 months until Spring Training comes around again. As I watch what I hope is a promising transformation of the Jays into an even stronger team. I’m kind of excited and really hope not to be disappointed.

Of all the pending free agents, the only one I’ll really miss is Edwin.

I hope so badly that he comes back, but the man going to get paid, and the Jays may decide that they want a younger, cheaper, left-handed slugger/first baseman instead.

bba-orioles-blue-jays-baseball-20161004

I’m hoping the Jays’ head office will spend some money. I mean how much $$ did the fans spend this season? I mean it’s ridiculous really. I personally spent a few thousand dollars, and gosh, I don’t even want to count the number of hours.

It was fun, when they won. It sucked when they lost. It was an emotional ride. I guess that’s what being a sports fan is all about.

 

TOR vs. CLE 2016 Head-to-Head

Blue Jay bandwagon fans have been happy fans for the past week and a half because when you’re hot, you’re hot. And the Jays have finally looked like the Jays we know and love.

Looking forward to the much anticipated ALCS that begins in 17 hours, I’ve been interested to see the match-up stats between Toronto and Cleveland showing that despite the Jays out-hitting, out-pitching and out-homering Cleveland, the Jays had a 3-4 record against Cleveland this season playing in July and August. I had to look back at the 7 games to figure out how that was possible.

screenshot-2016-10-14-03-29-39

see via TOR vs. CLE from 2016 to 2016 Head-to-Head Records | Baseball-Reference.com

So, looking at the 4 games that were lost, Dickey pitched the first one. That’s ok, Dickey won’t be meeting them this series. The 2nd game lost was July 1st. Remember that 19 inning 1-2 loss on Canada Day when both Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney pitched the final 2 innings? That was the game that effectively took Goins out for the season. And Darwin gave up the homerun to end it. That game for sure could have gone either way and here’s hoping there are no 19 inning games with Barney pitching again in this series.

So that’s 2 losses accounted for. The 3rd loss was another 1-run loss with a 2-3 score on one of the rare occasions when Osuna blew the save by giving up 2 homeruns in the 9th, one to switch-hitter Jose Ramirez. Devon Travis also made 2 errors that game. And the 4th loss was another 1-run 2-3 game where Cecil gave up a 2-run homer to, once again Jose Ramirez, in the bottom of the 8th.

On the flipside, the Jays did get 1 of their 3 wins beating C. Kluber with a score of 17-1. That game probably accounts for much of the lopsided stats.

So overall, looks somewhat hopeful, although, Cleveland has a very different looking bullpen now, particularly due to the acquisition of A. Miller. Here’s hoping that Russell is due to break out of his ‘1-for’ playoffs so far.

Go Jays!

The Final Stretch

I haven’t written too many posts lately. And mainly it’s probably because I’m busy. But a lot of it has to do with a chronic sense of frustration with the team.

I know, the professional broadcasters are always dissing us bandwagon folk saying we don’t understand the game and we’re ready to bail on the team even though they’re in first. Blah blah blah. Those like Mike Wilner have a Twitter feed that exists purely to diss any fan who has an opinion.

I get that. For me the frustration stems from the team underperforming. They’re better than they have been and for the most part have been lucky that they got to first place. It’s hard not to want them to be as good as last year, because they didn’t get to the World Series last year. So it’s hard not to think that if they don’t do as well, they won’t get farther this season.

It’s also hard to hear those like Buck Martinez constantly talking about the thunderous offense of the Jays. I mean they’ve only been thunderous a handful of times when playing against poor quality pitchers. They haven’t had any persistent runs where you felt like things were clicking.

Yes they’re in first, but the confidence level is precarious. When they can lose to the worst team in the division, you think, how can they possible beat good teams they don’t know?

Really, I just want them to win the division again. Beyond that would be gravy to me. If they could just play to their potential, it shouldn’t be a problem. But why? Why have they been stymied so often? The coaches love to let them do their thing. But come on. Isn’t there anything you can coach them on? Can’t you practice getting base hits?

It’s been a season of scratching the surface and although they’ve made it this far with their pitching efforts, it’s concerning that they seem to be fading and maybe won’t be able to keep this team afloat on their own. They need offense. And most of all, the expectation is that their defense is working. No dropped balls Devon Travis. No crazy off balance throws to first Marcus Stroman. Move your feed and chase the ball Michael Saunders. No stopping the ball with your body J. A. Happ.

Come on team. Let’s get the adrenaline pumping.

BLUE JAYS 5, ORIOLES 1

via Toronto – Baseball Prospectus

RECAP: BLUE JAYS 5, ORIOLES 1; DONALDSON STAYS HOT AT CAMDEN YARD

TOP PLAY OF THE GAME BY WPA

In a game with few runs, it is unsurprising that the top play is awarded to a swing that deposited a ball on the other side of the fence. Keeping up with his performance from Sunday’s game, Josh Donaldson continued to put the middle of the bat on the baseball. His solo home run in the 4th inning tied the game 1-1. The Jays never trailed for the remainder of the game, never allowing another Baltimore run to score. Donaldson contributed 0.126 WPA with that swing. An honorable mention goes to Jose Bautista for his solo home run in the 6th inning. He compiled 0.120 WPA while increasing his home run total to 16 on the season.

BOTTOM PLAY OF THE GAME BY WPA

In the 7th inning, with the Orioles trailing by two runs; Matt Wieters stepped to the plate and hit a rocket. Unfortunately for him, it was straight into the waiting mitt of first baseman “Smoaky Bear”. Mark Trumbo, who was on first, took a surprising step farther off the bag which made it an extremely clear cut double play. Even if Trumbo broke back immediately, he probably didn’t have a chance to reach the bag before Smoak. Wieters gets credit for a hard hit, worst play of the game. He detracted 0.133 WPA from his team’s chance to win the game. That’s a tough way to pick up this award, Matt.

ESTRADA RETURNS TO FORM

Going into this start, there was general trepidation surrounding Marco Estrada place amongst the starting rotation. In his last two starts, he had failed to make it past the 5th inning in either occasion. All told, he allowed 11 earned runs in only 9.0 innings of work. This late into the season, Estrada was able to increase his ERA from 2.95 to 3.47; a remarkable feat for starts number 21 and 22. However, Marco reverted to his previous form tonight, going seven innings, allowing only four hits which amounted to only one run.