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.
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!
Not to dwell on the longest game in the MLB this season at 19 innings. And the Jays lost. But man, what a game against the Cleveland Indians today.
Marcus Stroman looked good today and hopefully is making a come back. Also, the bullpen did a fine job putting up zeros for the 9-10 innings that they played, including Brett Cecil. Unfortunately, the bullpen dried up and Ryan Goins had to pitch, and he put up a zero! But then Darwin Barney gave up a homerun before striking the last batter out. At that point, the Jays were pretty much relinquishing the game anyway.
Vic Carapazza. Home plate umpire.
Forgot to wear his glasses or something. Had an unusual strike zone and couldn’t decide where it began and ended from pitch to pitch. The worst umped game I’ve ever seen. But that wasn’t the worst of it. He couldn’t stand the fact that he didn’t know what he was doing and ejected EE, Gibby, AND Russell Martin. Martin looked like he was going to kill him.
I think it erodes the MLB reputation and the game to let guys like this umpire. IGNORANCE and ARROGANCE are a brutal combination. He really ruined today’s game.
But the Jays also had the bases loaded 3 times and couldn’t score. Mainly because they were so frustrated by the strike zone and had their biggest hitter thrown out.
Tomorrow’s pitcher for Cleveland was used today. No idea who is going to take his place. Hopefully someone Estrada can beat. Jays need some sleep!
Yeah, the last time I was at a game, some jerk in front of us booed when Cecil came out. What a jerk. I was tempted to give him crap. First of all, Cecil is not the only one who’s playing poorly. And how uncivilized is that to boo your own team. Really there are like 10 guys around the 30,000 crowd who are just dicks. The reality is, there are dicks everywhere. Too bad they almost always have the loudest voices and they’re almost always losers.
The Jays made a real run at a comeback Wednesday afternoon against San Fran by coming back from a 3-run deficit and taking the game to 13 innings. Poor Tepera floundered and the Giants got a WALK-off WALK. He was promptly sent back to Buffalo afterwards just to pour salt in the wound. Although, I’m pretty sure he was expecting only to be up for the day anyway.
Feels like we just played the Rangers, but the rivalry resumes at 8pm tonight.
Not much to say about this game.
Brett Cecil just went on paternity leave (which is only 3 days in MLB). Maybe that’s why he’s had such a rough month, anticipating a new baby?
The Jays goes to the west coast to play San Fran whom they haven’t played in 3 years. This will be the first time this season that our pitcher will need to bat.
Despite homeruns by Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar, the Jays couldn’t get the win. Pillar made his first error since last June. And unfortunately, we can’t avoid talking about Brett Cecil again. After Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3, Cecil is now 0-5. This is the most losses in relief at the end of April. Ever. (Well, since 1913). Again, he allowed 3 hits without getting an out.
The scary thing is the Cecil says he can’t change anything and doesn’t want to change anything. He says he feels good and is pitching well.
I’m not to sure. His pitches seem the seem, but the pitch choices may not be. John Gibbons wasn’t happy with his last pitch choice on Saturday.
According to baseball-reference.com he has been playing more high leverage situations in 2016 compared to 2015.
gmLI (game-entering Leverage Index)
We know that the Jays have started off slow in the past and weren’t in terrific shape in 2015 when the trade deadline came around hovering at around a .500 record. How are the Jays fairing compared to last April?
W-L 11-12 11-14
ERA 4.78 3.89
OPP AVG .270 .252
WHIP 1.45 1.30
So if they’re pitching better, why isn’t their record better? Maybe the other teams are that much better? Maybe, but actually the Offense is the reason.
Team AVG .248 .232
Runs/Game 5.3 4.0
HR 28 29
RISP .276 .220
K/Game 7.7 9.3
The biggest problem is the RISP (runners in scoring position) and too many strikeouts. So…hard to blame Cecil and the bullpen completely. If the offense was living up to it’s name, the Jays would be doing well. The team should probably listen to Josh Donaldson and change their approach at the plate.
Stroman was the starter Monday night and he held the Chicago White Sox back allowing only 1 run into the 7th inning. The Blue Jays led 5-1 when he got the hook after allowing 2 singles then getting nailed in the left arm off the bat of ex-Blue Jay Dioner Navarro. He shook it off but then pitched 4 balls to Austin Jackson. I think John Gibbons thought he was hurt and couldn’t pitch, but it turned out to be a disastrous decision to yank him.
Brett Cecil came in with 2 outs, and got yanked with still only 2 outs after allowing 3 runs. Gavin Floyd replaced him but also allowed 2 runs.
So what is going on with Brett Cecil? The lights-out, go-to, left-hander from 2015? So far in 2016, he has notched 4 LOSSES despite being a middle reliever and having pitched only 8.2 innings! His ERA is now 5.19 compared to 2.48 last season. On Monday’s game, he came in in a fairly low leverage situation with 2 on but a 4-run lead. The lead dropped to 1-run and he couldn’t get an out.
Looking at this year’s scatter plot vs last year, it looks like he’s given up on the changeup, but otherwise, looks fairly the same except for a slow end curveball.
Batters do not appear to be whiffing at the curveball and sinkers. So maybe he has to figure out another way to strike batters out? Personally, I think he’s just out of shape. He looks off balance on the mound and he has gained all the weight that Dickey has lost. He had been a bit better lately until this game, but boy do the Jays need him to sort himself out. Imagine how the playoffs would have turned out if Cecil 2015 had not been injured and had played when the team needed him?
Some mornings when I’m writing a post after the Blue Jays have lost, it feels like I’m writing a post-mortem.
Video Recap April 21
Jose Bautista continued to be angry. Looked like this ump hated both sides with a staring contest with Bautista and an ejection of Matt Wieters of the Orioles in the 5th inning.
After seeing Donaldson’s 2015 catch in the stands on the highlight reel like a hundred times, I didn’t expect to see him miss one. This Trumbo foul shot, Donaldson had in his glove, but dropped when he fell into the stands. This time, he didn’t have Toronto fans protecting his face.
Pitching and Offense
The talk all off-season was ‘the starting rotation…, the starting rotation…’ and the offense was a given. Well the starting rotation is just fine, but what is with the offense?
The 3 key offensive players, Edwin Encarnacion (AVG .299), Josh Donaldson (not Josh MacDonald, Buck) (AVG .284), and Jose Bautista (AVG .276) have been doing fine and Michael Saunders (AVG .321) seems happy in the leadoff spot. The Jays were 5-7 with Pillar in leadoff, and 3-2 with Saunders in leadoff. But the rest of the lineup is still struggling with 2 and a half hitters still below .200.
Passed balls and Permeable gloves
Remember how disappointing Wednesday night’s game was when Joe Biagini got his signs crossed and threw the wrong pitch to Josh Thole. Thole who tends to turn his glove away towards balls pitched towards his opposite side, allowed a passed ball which scored the tie-breaking 10th inning run. Thole looked like he was going to cry. A lot of people asked, why wasn’t Russell Martin in there instead? Well, turns out, the very next day, Martin also allowed a passed ball pitched from Brett Cecil in the the bottom of the 8th. This allowed Joey Rickard to advance to 2nd, which then allowed the tie-breaking run when Bautista couldn’t come up with Manny Machado’s bloop to right field.
Machado also got a fluke hit after his line drive went right through the webbing of Donaldson’s glove. It’s interesting to hear opposing team commentary. The Orioles commentator’s statement was ‘that’s why you’re not supposed to catch the ball with the webbing’. Whatever dude.
Same thing happened to Tulowitzki’s glove on April 5th. This one was predictable since his glove has been on it’s last legs for a while.
Sigh. Overall, considering the Blue Jay bats are stale, they are still managing to hover around a .500 record. If they could just clean up a few things, they could still stay in the running. If they clean up their defense which for the most part is great, AND the bats wake up, they really should be unstoppable, right? Sounds easier said than done.
Another close one.
The Toronto Blue Jays won the 1st of a 3-game series with their archrivals, the Baltimore Orioles. When was the seed of this rivalry planted? Benches got warned back in 2014 after this pitch by Marcus Stroman.
Stroman pitched 7 innings. Bautista shot an RBI double. Tulowitzki got a 2-run double to continue his 3-game hitting streak. He’s had 1 hit in the last 3 games and his is average is now .148. Is it a coincidence that we have also won the last 3 games? Do we need Tulo to hit to win?
Cecil did his job. Osuna shut down the last 4 batters to get his 5th save. I mean do you not have the utmost of confidence in this 21-year-old or what?
There are articles out there talking about the lineup and that changing the order actually has a small effect. There is less than a 1 run differential between the worst lineup order and the best. But it’s still interesting to think about. Right now we have the 3 worst hitters hitting in the 5th, 6th and 7th spots. They are supposed to be there to bring in any of the power hitters who are still on base. Right now, Pillar and Goins are in 8th and 9th. Gregg Zaun says that’s good because they are not hitting often, but if they get on base, the big hitters at the top of the lineup will drive them in. So which is it? Should they shuffle the lower half of the lineup until the bats get going?
Kevin Pillar has demonstrated that he is not a leadoff man and is much happier down in the bottom 3rd of the order. Who would have predicted that moving Kevin Pillar from the leadoff position to batting 8th would set him on such a roll? He went 3 for 3 on Monday and 3 for 4 on Sunday after the batting order switch. Michael Saunders who took over the leadoff spot went 1 for 4 plus a walk on Monday and 1 for 5 on Sunday. Saunders had been hitting .281 vs. Pillar’s .205. After the switch, now Saunders is hitting .268 vs. Pillar’s .273. Interesting.
Why is it that despite both guys saying they don’t change their approach depending on the position, does it seem that Pillar is much more comfortable down in the number 8 spot? Is it pressure? Do the pitchers pitch differently to them? More fastballs to those lower in the order? Do we also lose the benefit of stolen bases? Pillar stole 25 in 2015. Saunders stole 21 in 2012. I’ll have to look into this further.
Video Highlights (this announcer has some major issues pronouncing people’s names)
The Blue Jays’ starting pitching continued to shine with J. A. Happ giving up only 1 run in 7 innings, now with an ERA of 1.89. Another glimmer of hope. Cecil didn’t allow any runs and his ERA is now down to 4.76.
What I loved…
I loved seeing Encarnacion move. In the 4th, he showed his agility snaring a barely fair drive down the 1st base line.
The Jays are now back to a .500 record and back to 2nd place in the Division.
Not your average bandwagoner…
Ok, remember how I said I bought the MLB.tv subscription? I was able to watch much of this game live while I was at work even though it was at 1030 in the morning!
I was at the Rogers Centre for the first game against the Yankees this season. I had expected not to see too many empty blue seats but the attendance was only 28000+. I guess because it was a Tuesday night.
I was kind of embarrassed when a NY fan and a Toronto fan started brawling in the 100 seats. I mean who does that at a baseball game on a Tuesday night? That was probably the most interesting that happened Tuesday night unfortunately.
The only highlight was Jose Bautista’s 2-run double.
But no doubt, Cecil’s a bit of a disaster right now. It isn’t a ‘slow start’. His ERA is over 10! Even my inexperienced eyes can tell that he’s moving more slowly than last year. He seems off balance after the pitch is released. I think it’s because he’s gained at least 10 lbs. And he wasn’t that slim to begin with. Maybe he can take a lesson from Aaron Sanchez. Get in shape and it’ll all come together.
Tulowitzki, Colabello and Martin are all hitting below 0.150. One might say, ok it’s early, but neither Boston’s or the Yankees roster stats looks like that. They’re digging themselves pretty deep holes to hit themselves out of. The Jays have the 2nd worst batting average right now.
Hitting against that Yankees bullpen didn’t help one bit. I have to admit, they’re pretty scary and will be scarier once Aroldis Chapman returns. The Blue Jays’ bats and bullpen need to get it together…and quick.