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…
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.
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 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.
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?
Full House Home Opener
I was one of the 48 871 who was at the Rogers Centre for the home opener of 2016. Marcus Stroman pitching. Josh Donaldson playing despite his calf strain. The place – was – packed! Josh gets presented his AL MVP award by George Bell. New logos are unveiled. And the players run onto the field with their names announced, but oops! The announcer skips Michael Saunders who runs out while the announcer’s already moved on to Russell Martin. Ouch! The nice, polite Canadian, who’s dreamed of playing for the Blue Jays, who missed ALL of last season with a busted knee, who no one talked about because we all talked about Stroman’s busted knee, finally gets to start the 2016 Home Opener…and they skip his name…
What else was funny? I don’t know how many times clips from last year’s playoffs will be on the Jumbotron this season, but I loved seeing David Price up there celebrating with the Jays, and he and his team watching it from the Boston dugout.
In 2015, the Blue Jays went 93-69 scoring a total of 891 runs, by far the most runs in the League. Now, how many times did the Jays score 7 or more runs? 57 times.
How many times did the Jays LOSE when they scored 7 or more runs? 4.
So the probability of winning when they scored at least 7? 93%.
Well, unfortunately Friday night’s game went against the odds.
The bottom of the 4th was an awesome half inning. The Jays went into it behind 2-1, but then, Michael Saunders gets on base, Russell Martin gets his first hit of the season, Ryan Goins gets on, then Darwin Barney hits a single and Saunders scores. Kevin Pillar is then hit by pitch right in the helmet, and Martin scores. (You can tell Pillar used to play football, because he never seems too bothered by getting hit in the head!). So with the bases still loaded and no one out, who comes to bat but the AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, who proceeds to hit the 2nd Grand Slam of his career! So perfect, and we ultimately leave the inning with a 7-2 lead.
So what happened? How did we end up losing our much anticipated Home Opener 8-7? At the top of 6th, Marcus Stroman got yanked after he loaded the bases. Then Brock Holt proceeded to hit HIS Grand Slam with Jesse Chavez pitching. How irritating that they rained on our Grand Slam parade! The crowd was shocked. It was silent at Rogers Centre as all 48 871 of us watched the ball sail over the right field wall. Silent as the 4 BoSoxers trotted around the bases. Chavez then got out of the inning, with a flyout and a strikeout, and walked back to the dugout, shaking his head. And then in the 7th, Storen left 2 runners on and these 2 scored with Brett Cecil on the mound, putting the Red Sox ahead 8-7.
The Jays made a comeback attempt in the 8th replacing Barney with Smoak to hit, then replacing Smoak with Carrera to run. Carrera proceeds to successfully steal 2nd base, and the crowd is cheering again. It looks like we’ve got a chance when Donaldson gets into the batter’s box, but no, he grounds out to end the inning. So, guess what, who’s going to play 3rd base now? Russell Martin who proceeds to field a groundball and throws out the runner at 1st.
In total, the Jays went through 6 pitchers, Stroman, Chavez, Storen, Cecil, Floyd, Biagini in that order.
Seem a bit unusual to you? I get that Gibbons is feeling out the bullpen, and they need to work or the Spring Training work is wasted, and yeah, the bullpen failed us. But obviously the decision to bring Chavez in for Stroman wasn’t a good one. Easy to say in retrospect. His win probability in a clutch situation 2015 was 0.01. I’m assuming bases fully loaded is considered high leverage?
Should Floyd have come in next instead of Chavez? Should Stroman have been left in?
Maybe there was no intention to use Floyd but they were forced to later when Cecil didn’t have it? Maybe the 5-run lead at the time seemed a safe enough position to have Chavez pitch? Not sure.
As with the last game, I would argue that a WIN would have been a big deal, it being the home opener and the most anticipated sports event in Canada for the past 6 months, and that they needed to bring out their best and do what they needed to win, then hey go ahead and start experimenting after that. They say 10-15 more games and they’ll have the bullpen settled. Man that sounds like a long time. The sooner the better.
The Jays lost the 4th game of their opening series 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays and ended up with a 2-2 series tie. It would have been nice to start the season with a winning series especially since the Jays have traditionally faired poorly at Tropicana Field.
Past 5 years 17-30
And an even worse Series record…
Past 5 years 2-11-2
The Jays however are getting good at stirring up news and dissent. Never mind the turmoil that Jays’ manager John Gibbons stirred up with his ‘dresses’ joke. But there were a lot of questions around his decision to replace Gavin Floyd, the experienced long reliever, with Arnold Leon in the high leverage 8th inning when the Jays were hanging onto a 3-2 lead with the Rays having a runner on 1st and 3rd. This was Leon’s first major league appearance. I think that if you’re going to pull the pitcher here, you replace him with a shutdown reliever right? Was Gibby thinking that they might get a repeat of 20-year-old Roberto Osuno when his first pitch in the Major Leagues was vs. Alex Rodrigueswith 2 runners on base in 2015 when he struck him out? Check this out. Cool as a cucumber.
Poor Leon is the next player in line to go down to AAA when Estrada joins the lineup. And was that situation the right time for Leon to get some work? I guess however, that 2 runners on base wasn’t quite the situation when Leon started warming up but wouldn’t it have been safer to leave Floyd in? He might have had a better chance of avoiding the 3-run homerun that ensued, but who knows?
I don’t really understand why Osuna or Storen couldn’t come in. Storen played or warmed up the last 3 days, but was he tired? It was only the 4th day of the season! And Osuna I guess is the 9th inning pitcher, but if you don’t get there, then there is no bottom of the 9th!
I think when the Jays make logical decisions, there’s a sense of comfort in their ability, but when they start making strange management decisions, it starts to get very confusing. There are more high tech ways to figure out if a pitcher needs rest than just looking at how many days in a row they threw a ball. The Blue Jays for sure must have access to that.
Other things I didn’t love about Wednesday’s game was the home plate umpire Laz Diaz’ strike zone. It was all over the place! Does umping get better later in the season as well?
And the rationale to take out Saunders and replace him with Carrera? Saunders had been hitting the Rays well, so were they worried he was tired too?
And of course, we all held our collective breath when 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson limped off the field with a strained calf. He tweaked it after his 3-run homer in the 3rd inning.
I expect it will take much more than a strain to keep Donaldson away from the home opener. I hope so since I’ll be there at Rogers Centre and he’ll be sorely missed if he doesn’t play!
Rogers Centre is going to be a packed house. Does anyone else find it strange that Tropicana Field’s seats are so empty during their season and home opener? Is it because they finished 4th in the AL East in 2015 and 17th overall? Or is it because all the snow birds from Toronto have made their way north? There are 42 active players born in Florida so you’d think that Floridians must love baseball. Or was it just because they played during the weekdays. Well, Rogers Centre will absolutely be thumping on Friday. It’s going to be awesome!