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.



via Toronto – Baseball Prospectus



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.


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.


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.

The 6-game homestand

Ok, so the Jays managed to stay afloat over the past couple of weeks while Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista were out on the DL. In addition, MVP Josh Donaldson and superstar hot bat Troy Tulowitzki had to take a few days off for small injuries. So I guess tied for 1st isn’t too bad considering the offense was weak at times and there were strikeouts galore. The bullpen for the most part has covered for some recent glitches in the starting pitching ie, All-stars Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada who have struggled since the introduction of the 6-man rotation. Considering the bullpen also lost a couple of games ie, dominant Roberto Osuna, and struggling Brett Cecil, against the Cleveland Indians, it’s actually quite a surprise to still be in first.

And a relief to have a 6-game homestand against the last place LA Angels and the last place Minnesota Twins.


RA Dickey (ERA 4.51, WHIP 1.35) vs. Tyler Skaggs (ERA 5.19, WHIP 1.58)
Dickey’s ERA is higher over the last 7 games at 5.68. Skaggs has only pitched 26 innings this season.

Marco Estrada (ERA 3.20, WHIP 1.04) vs. Matt Shoemaker (ERA 4.14, WHIP 1.26)
Marco has struggled a bit his last few starts and his ERA has been 4.38 over the last 7 games. Shoemaker’s ERA however has been better than average at 3.51.

estrada era

Estrada ERA 2016 Season by Game

JA Happ (ERA 3.05, WHIP 1.14) vs. Jered Weaver (ERA 5.47, WHIP 1.53)
This matchup is a no-brainer. Happ has been utterly dominant with a league leading 17-3 record and he’s even better the last 7 games with an ERA of 1.85. He seems to be loving the 6-man rotation.

Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano will be starting the series against the Twins.


Aaron Sanchez will be missing his next start against these last place teams. The Blue Jays are trying to figure out a way to keep him fresh but keep him in the rotation as long as possible and hopefully into the playoffs. He’s been sent down to Dunedin for a break. There’s a cost no matter what you do. You skip starts and you don’t get him pitching and winning. You send him to the bullpen, you lose him for good, but gain potentially a solid reliever, assuming of course he’d be as good as last season. And this is a guy in the Cy Young conversation. What to do…what to do…


The series vs. the Angels will be a great opportunity to watch one of the best players in baseball Mike Trout. (Here’s hoping he’s off his game.) Our old friend and ex-Jay Cliff Pennington is now with the Angels and we will get to see him again too.

The Angels are in the pits this season but they have 7 batters hitting over .250 in the lineup compared to 6 batters in the Jays. Four of the Angels are hitting over .270 compared to only Donaldson for the Jays.

This series is not going to be as easy as it seems like it should be against a team out of the running. We need a series win and if the offense is working, maybe a sweep!

The 6-Man

There has been so much chatter about the 6-man rotation that the Blue Jays have recently adopted. Jays Front Office succumbed to pressure from somewhere (the players, the media, the fans) and settled on this solution as a means to keep young star starter Aaron Sanchez in the rotation for the time being.

There is the usual division of lovers and haters. The reality is, the extra day of rest probably affects some, not others. Clearly, all pitchers have pitched on 5 days rest before. There are days off built in to all schedules. Estrada for example also spent some time on the DL which meant 15+ days of rest.

People talk about players being creatures of habit and that pitchers have a very tight and strict 5-day routine. Messing this up, could mess them up. Others say that at this time of year, guys are tired and sore if not injured and probably could use some extra rest.

How’s it going for the Jays so far? Well, new guy Francisco Liriano 1st pitched on Aug 5th.

ERA Before Aug 5

Happ 3.09
Sanchez 2.71
Estrada 2.92
Stroman 4.74
Dickey 4.49
Liriano 5.46 (with the Pirates)

ERA After Aug 5

Happ 2.70
Sanchez 4.15
Estrada 7.00
Stroman 3.18
Dickey 4.82
Liriano 5.40

There have only been 2 games each since the change so it’s a very limited sample. It does look like Sanchez may be affected, and to a greater degree, Marco Estrada. Marco has said that he’s felt ‘rusty’. He has even volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen this weekend between starts.

I guess if you think about it, Estrada is probably the one most susceptible to too much rest. He has only an 89mph fastball and is a very fine pitcher. If he gets extra rest, perhaps he has too much power and that throws him off? But then again, what about the back problem and shouldn’t rest be good for that?

Like with most things, there is probably no one right answer, and the 6-man could be good for some and bad for others. Liriano had a great start today. He will likely replace Dickey in the rotation for next year. But what will happen later this season? I think the Jays will really want to have Sanchez in the playoff run (and playoffs hopefully). If he shows signs of wear, he’ll go to the bullpen right away and likely be a great addition there. If Liriano goes to the bullpen instead, he’ll probably be pretty good there too. Like they love to say, it’ll be ‘day-to-day’.


Meet your new Toronto Blue Jays



At the trade deadline, the Blue Jays acquired RHP Scott Feldman from their current opponent, the Houston Astros, in exchange for Minor League pitcher Lupe Chavez, an 18-year-old from Roberto Osuna’s hometown, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Feldman has pitched 62 innings, is 5-3, with a 2.90 ERA and 4.23 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). He’s thrown 42 strike outs and just 13 walks, 1.2 homers/9 innings and 64 base hits. He has had a favorable 77% strand rate. He has experience with one postseason run with Texas in 2011. Look for his slow curve ball.


The Jays also unloaded an unreliable Jesse Chavez to the LA Dodgers in exchange for Mike Bolsinger. He is a cutter/curveball pitcher who is prone to the long ball. Not sure how much he’ll be playing this season and may have just been a means of providing some flexibility and to move Chavez out.


Just a minute before the 4 p.m. deadline, the Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Drew Hutchison to the Pirates in exchange for veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano and two of Pittsburgh’s top 10 prospects, catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Liriano is 6-11 with a 5.46 ERA in 21 starts with the Pirates. He has also issued 69 walks in just 113 innings, an average of more than 5 walks/9 innings. Overall, does not seem like a good replacement for Aaron Sanchez in the rotation. He used to play with Russell Martin and maybe the thinking is that he’ll do as well as he did back then with Martin catching him.


The Jays recently exchanged 28-year-old Drew Storen for 39-year-old Joaquin Benoit from the Seattle Mariners.

The Jays have also designated $2M lefty reliever Franklin Morales for assignment. He only just came off the 60-day DL for left arm fatigue.


Big series against the O’s in Toronto

I’ll be at the game tomorrow and this series is expected to be a big one. Will a sweep kill off one team or the other? No. But the Jays could either end up in 1st or deeply seated in 3rd again.


The pitching matchup looks good for the Jays.

  1. Estrada (5-4, ERA 2.94, 3.71 over last 7) vs. Gausman (2-7, ERA 3.77, 4.24 over last 7)
  2. Happ (13-3, ERA 3.27, 2.40 over last 7) vs. Gallardo (3-2, ERA 5.37, 4.85 over last 7)
  3. Sanchez (11-1, ERA 2.72, 1.53 over last 7) vs. Tillman (14-3, ERA 3.47, 4.22 over last 7)

Estrada got pushed back in order to rest him and to have the 3 best pitchers line up against the O’s this series. He could also use the extra rest for his bad back.

Theoretically, the Jays’ pitching could win all 3 games over the O’s as long as the Jays offense is working.


W-L: Toronto 14-7 vs. 11-12

Runs: Toronto 118 vs. 77

Hits: Toronto 197 vs. 190

HR: Toronto 28 vs. 26

AVG: Toronto .266 vs. .241

OPS: Toronto .785 vs. .677