Ok, there are only 99 games left to go and how are the Blue Jays doing? Well, most would say compared to last year’s Jays, they haven’t hit their stride. There have been glimpses of brilliance this year, but for the most part, we’ve witnessed enough meltdowns that there is no lead big enough that instills enough confidence in us to relax.
The Jays had a good run of winning 5 series in a row that included the Yankees and Bosox. But lost their series to Detroit with a couple of ugly ones. So far this current series with the division leading Baltimore Orioles, they are split 1-1. The Jays won last night with a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion. Normally I would say great! But I attribute this one to luck. EE had gone 0-for-19 before that at bat, and he pretty much just swung as hard as he could and he got it over the opposite field wall. The Jays couldn’t ‘manufacture’ a run. I think they just got lucky off a relief pitcher who had only given up 1 other home run this season. That to me says that we can’t yet expect that to happen often.
The highlight was that the bullpen including Chavez, Osuna, and Storen didn’t give up any runs.
So how are the Jays doing compared to 2015?
After 63 games, the Jays record is 33-30. After 63 games in 2015, 33-30!
Ok, doesn’t seem so bad, but big changes came at the trade deadline bringing in Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, and LaTroy Hawkins. A big boost like that is not expected this year.
The split for 1-run games so far is 7-12 (.368). In 2015, 15-28 (.349).
A lot has been said about how poorly the Jays have done in 1-run games. But it seems like it’s pretty how it was last year, if not slightly better.
How did the Jays do by month in 2015?
Wining percentage 2015:
So far in 2016, Apr .440, May .586. So in fact, May this year was better than last year. Maybe June will be better like 2015.
How is the hitting compared to 2015 and is there hope for improvement?
I think it’s hard to compare because there has been some shuffling in some positions, but clearly the team as a whole has not been hitting as well as last year. Let’s look at the players who played full-time both years and see who’s got room for improvement.
If looking at batting average, on base percentage, and on base plus slugging…
Josh Donaldson is clearly not his MVP calibre self, but this year’s numbers are not that much different from 2014 so he might not repeat his 2013 and 2015 performances.
Kevin Pillar probably isn’t too far off his potential looking at his career performance so although not performing as well as last year, may not be expected to get much better over the year.
Russell Martin is below his previous 2 years with the Jays, so he is the one guy clearly hitting under his potential and who will hopefully continue to move back towards his usual level of hitting.
Edwin Encarnacion has also not yet hit his stride. He’s traditionally been a slow starter so he should get to where he’s been and we should see continued improvement.
Justin Smoak on the upside has been better than 2015 having the opportunity to play every day.
So is there hope for the offense? We could see a dramatic improvement in the hitting. We need 1) Martin and Encarnacion to get back to where they’ve been on average. We’d also like to see 2) Tulowitzki figure out how to get back to his pre-Blue Jay self. That would be a mega-boost to the offense.
The Jays have won the 1st game in their series against division rivals the Boston Red Sox. The Jays have a 4-game win streak and a 4-series win streak that they’re trying to make 5. R. A. Dickey beat the Red Sox for the 1st time after 9 losses, and David Price lost to the Jays for the 1st time in 5 years.
Two home runs for the Jays by Edwin Encarnacion and the newly rehabilitated Devon Travis. Since Jose Bautista took lead off and Devon Travis came back, and with Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list (DL), the Jays have been hot. Not smoking yet, but hot. That is without Bautista or Donaldson heating up.
What’s been the turning point? Well, Russell Martin’s been starting to hit after an abysmal 1st 3rd to the season. Ryan Goins who has been a cold hitter has been replaced by Travis. And Tulowitzki, who had been starting to warm up a bit before going on the DL, has been replaced with Barney who has been great defensively and getting timely hits offensively. That has turned the lineup around.
The starting pitching remains strong and Dickey’s getting stronger. Stroman however, has been wavering a bit. And the bullpen just got an infusion of strikeout skill with the acquisition of Jason Grilli, who has done just fine in 2 appearances.
Here’s hoping the team stays healthy and keeps it going! Today’s game starts at 4pm.
Nice game today. A bit of everything. Estrada was awesome and finished out 8 shutout innings. Pillar hits a double. Ryan executes a perfect bunt to advance him to 3rd, but neither Bautista nor Donaldson could drive him in. That was kind of disappointing. Then in the 9th, Aaron Loup who was great yesterday struckout one, but then hits the batter and then gives up a homer. He’s replaced with Drew Storen and everyone was nervous. He promptly gave up a double. So Jesse Chavez and Chad Girodo both madly start warming up. But fortunately he got his 2 outs without any further damage and the Jays win!
PLAYER OF THE GAME
I definitely have to give that to Marco Estrada. He went 8 innings and only gave up 3 hits shutting out the Yanks.
HITTER OF THE GAME
Ryan Goins who went 2 for 2 against Ivan Nova with an RBI and 2 runs scored. A double and an opposite field home run! He also executed a perfect sac bunt to advance Kevin Pillar.
PLAY OF THE GAME
I have to say the 3-6-3 double play (Smoak 1B-Barney 2B-Smoak 1B). Love those!
DESIGNATED FOR ASSIGNMENT (DFA)
After 7 games, Jimmy Paredes has been designated for assignment. What does that mean?
Accoring to Wikipedia, a player who is DFA is immediately removed from the team’s 40-man roster, after which the team must either:
- return the player to the 40-man roster within 10 days from the date of designation, or
- make one of the following moves:
- Place the player on waivers
- Trade the player
- Release the player
- Outright the player from the 40-man roster into the Minor Leagues
So we’ll see what happens. They did it to bring Ryan Tepera back up from the Minors (I’m surprised they haven’t yet given up on Tepera). I expect a reversal or another roster move within the week. Tepera has struggled to stay on the roster and Brett Cecil may be back by then.
I am sorry but Michael Saunders has no idea how to run bases and he is the key to the missed opportunity to win Monday night. He has made a few mistakes by not running the bases correctly, mostly not waiting to tag and running too far off the bases. Jose Bautista sacrified himself in the epic rematch against Sam Dyson of the Texas Rangers, but Saunders failed to get to 3rd and then he got tagged out at home. Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. Ok, Saunders did get the lone RBI, but still. Darwin Barney should have been brought in to pinch run for Saunders instead of for Justin Smoak later.
Ryan Goins in the 7th should have bunted but instead swung and grounded into a double play. He then decides to put down a crappy bunt in the 9th and gets the lead runner out.
The Jays would have a decent record right now if they could just clean up these basic plays. I mean what’s the point of Spring Training? Just to let the minor leaguers have some fun? The Jays are now 2-7 in 1-run games.
The biggest waste is that R. A. Dickey has finally gotten out of a bad April and actually did well today, but his effort was totally wasted.
So R. A. Dickey had his typical bad 1st inning on Wednesday and allowed 3 Baltimore runs. The Toronto Blue Jays then slowly clawed their way back to a 3-3 tie scoring a run in the 3rd, 5th and 7th innings.
Michael Saunders scored on a single by Edwin Encarnacion in the 3rd. Josh Donaldson got his 6th homer of the season on a line drive to right centre field. He’s on pace to hit 59 homers this season! Possible? Heck yeah! (Well, on the other hand, he’s also on pace to have 187 strikeouts.) And Edwin got another RBI on a line drive double to score Saunders in the 7th to tie the game.
Things were looking promising for Josh Thole when he threw Nolan Reimold out trying to steal 2nd base in the bottom of the 9th, a la Russell Martin. But the elation wouldn’t last…
Ubaldo Jimenez’ pitching windup. Looks like his arm gets dislocated behind before he sling shots it over his head. This is after a praying mantis set-up.
#1 Pillar’s 1st at bat was pretty ugly. He pretty much gave up that he was looking for one away, (as he always does), so of course they jammed him up on the inside.
#2 Ryan Goins stole 2nd base in the 4th inning although didn’t make it home. But in the 6th, he was thrown out at home on a line drive single by Josh Thole.
#3 I’m liking Michael Saunders in the number 1 slot for hitting, but not so much his baserunning. Twice on Wednesday he made a mistake baserunning from 3rd base. In the 1st inning he succumbed to the double play after the pitcher caught the line drive by Encarnacion and threw Saunders out at 3rd.
Then in the 7th, he again didn’t stay on the bag until the pop fly was caught and by the time he went back to tag, he was too late to run home. Luckily, he was then sent home by Edwin with his double. So is there a stat for baserunning? Turns out there is.
BsR (Base running runs above average, includes Stolen Bases or Caught Stealing)
Saunders -0.7 compared to Pillar 0.5 and Donaldson 0.6.
So yeah, Saunders needs some baserunning practice.
What’s worse than a catcher that can’t catch? The bottom of the 10th. Extra innings. I’m not sure why Gavin Floyd wasn’t left in to pitch the 9th. He’s certainly doing better than Storen, and if the Jays successfully made it through the 9th, they knew they would need another arm. But after switching to Storen for the 9th, which he barely got out of, they had to bring Biagini in for the 10th. He loaded the bases but that wasn’t the worst of it. Josh Thole had a passed ball with Adam Jones batting, and the ball got far away from him so the winning run scored. Is that not the worst way to lose or what?
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?
Aaron Sanchez has done everything the Blue Jays were hoping he would do and more. Yet, the ‘W’ had eluded him in his first 2 starts of the season. Sunday afternoon he finally got paid with a 5-3 win over the Boston Red Sox. He gave up only 1 earned run, and shockingly, the other 2 were given up during the controversial insertion of closer Roberto Osuna when Shaw hit a 2-run homerun over the right field wall. Controversial because it was not a save situation, thus allowing the Red Sox to see more of the ace-in-the-hole. I did not expect to have to worry about losing the game with a 4-run lead in the 9th with Osuna on the mound. But you know what? In typical Osuna fashion, the homer didn’t get to him and he closed down the rest of the inning to preserve the win. He essentially saved the game from himself!
Jose Bautista homers off Wright in the first inning. The Jays got a total of 14 hits including each member of the starting lineup.
What I saw…
I saw the determination on Ryan Goins’ face when running home on Josh Donaldson’s double. You know, it’s so easy to say things like ‘you suck’ when a player underperforms, but that one look tells you that most of the time, they try very hard at their job, harder probably than most people at their jobs. Yeah they’re easy to target because you have to pay to watch them and they make good money. But Goins made it home and I appreciated that.