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!
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
Liriano 5.46 (with the Pirates)
ERA After Aug 5
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’.
After a weak start against the Phillies when the Jays played without Edwin Encarnacion, his return and hitting has helped the Jays blast the Phillies in the last 3 games of their home-and-home series with 31 runs including 5 home runs in last night’s game!
The last game of the series was a 13-2 beat down on a young Phillies starting rotation.
Encarnacion has been killing it over the past 6 games.
UPCOMING SERIES AGAINST THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES
As it stands, the Blue Jays are now 1 game behind Boston and 2 games behind the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles. This upcoming series in Batlimore for the Jays is HUGE and could have a significant impact on the standings. Unfortunately, the Orioles are coming off a series win against Boston which should give them some confidence. The Jays are coming off scoring 31 runs in the last 3 games against the Phillies which should also provide them with some big time mojo.
The Jays are still a couple of weeks from getting Tulowitzki back. Good or bad? The Jays have been doing just fine without him in the lineup. We’re still waiting to hear of Bautista will be out after leaving last night’s game having majorly stubbing his big toe. Carrera is nursing a rolled ankle. Tonight’s lineup will be interesting.
Friday Sanchez (6-1, ERA 3.38, Last 7 games: 4-0, ERA 3.83) vs. Wright (3-3, ERA 5.31, Last 7G: 2-1, ERA 5.40)
Saturday Dickey (4-7, ERA 4.16, Last 7 games: 3-3, ERA 3.25) vs. Gallardo (1-1, ERA 7.0)
Sunday Stroman (6-2, ERA 4.76, Last 7 games: 2-2, ERA 6.12) vs. Tillman (9-1, ERA 2.87, Last 7G: 5-0, ERA 2.72)
Baltimore’s Yovani Gallardo is just coming back from the disabled list and hasn’t pitched since April 22. Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez and R. A. Dickey are my favourites to win. Marcus Stroman unfortunately has his work cut out for him.
Go Blue Jays!
I was feeling a little better knowing that the Jays were actually also 3 games behind first place last June 2015. Of course, some major changes were made to the roster come July. Fortunately, the Toronto Blue Jays ended their 3-game losing streak beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1, after getting swept at home by the Chicago White Sox. The last time the Jays were swept at home? 2013.
Aaron Sanchez was in good form with 7 shutout innings. But Drew Storen is still majorly struggling giving up the lone Tampa Bay Rays homerun.
Good news…sort of
Russell Martin snapped his 9 strikeout in a row streak by getting a hit to right field.
IF Tulowitzki doesn’t fix his batting issues, I predict that in July the team may attempt to trade him. That’s assuming that Devon Travis makes it back to the roster and demonstrates that he is still very capable of hitting and playing second base. That’s also assuming that the Jays think they can keep Barney on the bench with Goins moving to shortstop. If Goins can hit around .250 or at least better than Tulo, that’ll free up a lot of salary to fill in any holes.
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.
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.
First, the good.
I love, love, love seeing Russell Martin throw out a base stealer. It’s such a perfect way to end an inning. He had a 44% Caught Stealing % for 2015!
And how about Justin Smoak stealing second (while getting beaned in the helmet)? I didn’t know he could steal bases! He hasn’t stolen a base since 2012 and this was only his 3rd time in his career.
And Michael Saunders has been really solid so far. I loved seeing him push hard to run to first which they called safe on the field, but the hit was overturned on review.
I didn’t have the impression that Sanchez was at his best. He certainly made some beautiful pitches and he didn’t seem to be physically struggling throwing the ball but didn’t look too comfortable – maybe it was all mental. His mom and step dad were in the audience. Certainly his stepdad looked crazy nervous. If my son were a pro athlete I’d be super nervous too!
Then, the bad.
It was surprising to see Pillar miss one. Could he be a bit stunned from yesterday’s smash in the head? We’ve gotten so used to him catching impossible plays that’s it’s unnerving to see him miss one.
Shocking that Tulo missed one too but when I saw the replay, he actually had it, but the ball had busted through that ratty old glove. The same one where the ball got stuck in the webbing the other night. That glove cost us 2 plays, but how many plays has it saved?
Another surprise was Brett Cecil who hit Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch, Kiermaier representing the tying run, and who seems to be an aggressive baserunner. Cecil looks like he’s put on a few pounds. He also gave up a HR to Forsythe and broke his 38 game runless streak.
The Jays seemed to have many chances to run away the runs but somehow struggled to cash in with the 9 hits, the team RISP 2-for-12 and LOB of 11, UNTIL the top of the 9th.
OMG I got a headache. I don’t even know what to say, just like Gibby who’s mad as hell. Of course, I am referring to the last play of the game. Goins and Donaldson single and Jose walks. Edwin Encarnacion has bases loaded and the baserunners are ready. Edwin hits a ground ball to Evan Longoria who throws to Forsythe at 2nd getting out Jose Bautista who then made a legal slide BUT caressed Forsythe’s ankle with his hand which may or may not have resulted in the overthrow to first, thus disrupting the double play. The on field call was that Edwin was safe and that the 2 runs that came in gave the Jays a 4-3 lead. On review, they overturned the call…
Under new Rule 6.01(j), which has been added to the existing Rule 6.01 on “Interference, Obstruction, and Catcher Collisions,” slides on potential double plays will require runners to make a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on the base. Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide. A runner will be specifically prohibited from changing his pathway to the base or utilizing a “roll block” for the purpose of initiating contact with the fielder. Potential violations of Rule 6.01(j) will be reviewable using instant replay. Also reviewable will be “neighborhood play” calls, which previously were exempted from replay review.
Here is the text of the new rule (the ‘j’ is the new amendment):
RULE 6.01(j) — SLIDING TO BASES ON DOUBLE PLAY ATTEMPTS
If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference under this Rule 6.01. A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner:
(1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base;
(2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot;
(3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and
(4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.
To me, not being a player from the ‘old days’, don’t disagree with the league and the players association trying to prevent the bad injuries that have happened. But I think the call by New York Tuesday night, did not represent the intent of the new rule. And even if we followed the letter of the law, Jose fulfilled ALL 4 criteria and the announcement clearly states that ‘Runners may still initiate contact with the fielder as a consequence of an otherwise permissible slide.’ What a bad way to ruin an amazing comeback play, an ugly way to end a game. Now that does not represent the spirit of the game. First of all, Cash (the Tampa Bay manager) shouldn’t have asked for a review in the spirit of the game seeing as his player was not at risk of getting hurt. Second, should the reviewers not be looking for good evidence to overturn? If you watched Sportsnet, Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler thought there was no way it would get overturned. However, if you watched the Tampa Bay network, they thought for sure he should get called out. So either, they are more informed than Buck and Taby, or, your team bias determines how you see it. Anyone else feel that there’s a bias against the Canadian team sometimes?