The Blue Jays were busy Friday morning ahead of the 1 pm deadline to exchange arbitration figures signing six players.
The Blue Jays came to terms on one-year deals with Brett Cecil ($3.8million), Steve Delebar ($850,000), Drew Storen ($8.375 million), Aaron Loup ($1.05 million), Drew Hutchison ($2.2 million) and Michael Saunders ($2.9 million).
The Blue Jays were unable to come to terms with Jesse Chavez and American League MVP Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays offered Chavez $3.6 million while he asked for $4 million. Donaldson asked for $11.8 million while the Blue Jays offered $11.375 million.
In Donaldson’s case, I know it is part of the process of the arbitration system, but to the fans that have endured a disappointing off-season going to arbitration over $450, 000 to the American League MVP just reeks of pettiness from an ownership that have been accused of being cheap. Realistically Donaldson should win his arbitration case so in the end he will most likely will get his $11.8 million dollars.
The Blue Jays are still a File and trial team so there won’t be any deals announced with Donaldson or Chavez before their arbitration cases.
This is the last year of arbitration for Cecil, Storen, Saunders and Chavez who will all be Free Agents at the end of the 2016 season.
The Blue Jays kicked off their nine game homestand with a 5-3 win. The win moves the Blue Jays back to 16 games above 500 at 72-56. The Jays send Drew Hutchison to the mound tomorrow afternoon to face the Tigers Buck Farmer. The Blue Jays optioned Josh Thole to single A Bluefield after the game to make room on the roster for Hutchison. The reason Thole was sent to Bluefield was because their season ends September 1st and he can be called back up once their season ends.
Edwin Encarnacion was 1 for 2 with a pair of walks to extend his hitting streak to 23 games. Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson sparked the Blue Jays offence with back-to-back homers in the fourth inning, Jose Bautista added his 31st home run in the fifth inning. Kevin Pillar was 2 for 4 and had a stolen base. Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Smoak teamed up on one of the best plays of the night as Tulowitzki fielded an Ian Kinsler ground ball deep in the hole in short and was able to make a throw to first that Smoak made a great pick to record the first out of the eighth inning. Speaking of the eighth inning Aaron Sanchez only needed five pitches to retire the meat of the Tigers order, Roberto Osuna followed that up by striking out the side in the ninth inning. R.A Dickey had a good bounce back effort tonight pitching into the seventh allowing three runs both of which came via the long ball.
Chris Collabello was 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts, Josh Thole was the only other Blue Jays starter that didn’t record a hit.
When the team is rolling the way they have, well, it doesn’t give much ugliness to write about. However, there are some that keep wanting to see Tulo dropped from the lead-off spot in favour of Ben Revere, I may be in the vocal minority of leaving Tulo in the leadoff spot because I believe your better off to have your best hitters at the top of the line-up to give them more at bats and as it unfolded on Tuesday night in Texas it gets the top of the order up when it matters in the ninth inning. Sure, Tulo has had his struggles to start his time in Toronto but once he heats up it’ll make the top of the Blue Jays line-up even more dangerous.
Marco Estrada deserved a better fate than what he got on Thursday. Estrada pitched six innings of one run ball giving the Blue Jays every chance to stay in the game. It went for naught as the Jays stranded the tying run on third in the sixth and seventh innings before Liam Hendricks came in and had his worst outing of the year with some help from Jose Bautista who over ran a ground ball and resulting in a 3 base error which at the time turned a 1-0 deficit into a 4-0 hole that proved too much for the Blue Jays to climb back from.
The Blue Jays did get on the board in the eighth as Edwin Encarnacion doubled home Jose Bautista for the lone Jays run and ran his hitting streak to 22 games. The Jays were an out away from bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Rangers Closer Shawn Tolleson was able to get Troy Tulowitzki to line out to short with Ryan Goins at third base to end the game.
If some one had told me at the beginning of this road trip that the Jays would win 6 of 8, with six of those games against teams in the second wildcard spot I would have gladly signed up for it. So despite today’s setback the road trip was a successful one considering how the Jays usually fare on these Western road swings.
With the road trip out of the way, the Blue Jays will open up a nine game homestand Friday night against the Tigers who will send former Blue Jay Matt Boyd to the mound while the Blue Jays will counter with R.A Dickey. Drew Hutchison will make his return to the Blue Jays rotation on Saturday, and Mark Buehrle goes Sunday afternoon. The Tigers starters for the weekend will be Buck Farmer on Saturday and Alfredo Simon on Sunday. To be totally honest I really like the match-ups for the Blue Jays in this series.
As for the rest of the homestand the Jays will host Cleveland starting Monday night and then after an off-day on Thursday the Orioles come into town for Labour Day weekend.
Lastly if you’re into the magic numbers in the pennant races, The Blue Jays who are up a game and half on the Yankees for top spot in the East now have a Magic Number of 35 for the Division, and for a playoff spot the Magic Number stands at 30. The Blue Jays are six games clear of both Minnesota and the Los Angeles Angels who both sit at a half game back of the second wild card spot which is held by Texas.
The Blue Jays dropped their third game in a row losing to the Angels 9-3. The Blue Jays record now falls to 18-20 on the season. The Jays look to salvage the final game of their four game series Monday night as the Blue Jays send Mark Buehrle to the mound to face the Angels C.J Wilson.
The Good: Jose Reyes speed on the base path’s today produced the Jays first run, he singled to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second, and then was running with the pitch on a Jose Bautista ground out and ran home on the throw to first and beating the throw home. Reyes also went 1 for 3 with a walk at the plate scoring twice. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two run double in the bottom of the eighth inning bringing the Jays within four runs at the time. Adam Lind was 2 for 3 with a walk.
The Bad: Drew Hutchison didn’t have his best stuff as he walked four batters over four and a third innings, he was tagged for four runs on three hits and struck out five. Bautista’s streak of reaching base ended today with a 0 for 4 day, he did have a RBI though. The bottom of the Jays order was 0 for 11, although Juan Francisco drew a walk. Brett Cecil who gave up two runs in the ninth and walked two had a hard time throwing strikes, again it seems like the bullpen struggles are back again, hopefully now that Casey Janssen is back the pen can right themselves from their early season troubles.
The Ugly: Marcus Stroman had one of those days that a rookie is going to have, he pitched an inning and two-thirds allowing four runs on six hits striking out two, its days like this where you want to see how he does in his next outing to see if he’s made the adjustments needed to be successful in the big leagues. After the game Sergio Santos was put on the DL with forearm tightness, it’s the third time in three seasons with the Blue Jays that Santos has wound up on the DL. The Jays did not announce who would take his place on the roster but as long as it’s not another pitcher I’d be happy.
The Blue Jays dropped their second straight game in Kansas City tonight. The Blue Jays have dropped six of their last seven games and their record now sits at 12-15 three and a half games behind the Yankees and sit in fourth place in the AL East.
The Good: Drew Hutchison deserved a better fate than what he received tonight pitching seven strong innings and chances are if Brett Lawrie is playing at third instead of Juan Francisco then chances are Hutch gets out of the seventh inning tied at 2 instead of being down 4-2. Jose Bautista went 1 for 4 tonight and had a walk, the walk tied a team record for walks in a month which is also held by Fred McGriff. It was also the 27th straight game that Bautista has reached safely. Juan Franciso went 1 for 2 with a pair of walks. Chris Getz collected his first two hits as a Blue Jay tonight and has as many hits as Moises Sierra. Edwin Encarnacion who went 2 for 4 looks like he has come out of his slump as well, and probably could have had another hit along the way as he hit an absolute rope right to the center fielder in his first at bat.
The Bad: Melky Cabrera who has been tearing the ball off the cover, got hit by a 95 mile an hour fastball by Danny Duffy in the sixth inning and had to leave the game. The X-rays came back negative and is listed day-to-day with a contusion to the shin. Brett Lawrie also missed the game with back tightness and the Jays could have really used him tonight, so here’s to hoping that this isn’t going to be a lingering issue.
The Ugly: Moises Sierra, who most likely will be Designated For Assignment, went 0 for 4 tonight and struck out twice, the one with two men on and one out in the eighth inning. Colby Rasmus was also 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and like Sierra his one strike out came in the eighth inning with two on and no one out. The Jays were 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position, that won’t help win many ball games when a team hits like that. The feeling that the Blue Jays despite never leading let this game get away. The Jays had chances in the sixth, seventh and eighth to do some damage and other than the two runs in the sixth came away empty-handed.
The Jays let another game get away from them as they lost their second straight game to the Orioles. The Blue Jays are back at the 500 mark at 11-11 and now sit in third place two games back of the Yankees. The Blue Jays start a weekend series with the last place Red Sox starting Friday night. The Jays’ will send Mark Buehrle to the mound who looks for his fifth straight win to start the season against the Red Sox Jake Peavy.
The Good: Drew Hutchison did his job tonight giving the Blue Jays six strong innings giving up just two runs and tying his career high in strikeouts that he set in his last start at nine. Dionner Navarro got his first home run as a Blue Jay tonight to lead off the second inning. Melky Cabrera added another hit to extend his hitting streak to eight games. Jose Bautista’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth continued his streak of reaching base safely, his streak now stands at 22 games.
The Bad: The Blue Jays bats after the second inning were MIA until the eighth inning when by that time the game was way out of hand. John Gibbons bringing in Esmil Rogers when the Jays were down 5-3 in the seventh, couldn’t bring in Delabar or Loup in that spot?
The Ugly Brett Cecil who came on in the top of the seventh inning faced four batters, walked two, although one was intentional, and allowed two hits, although to be fair, if the Blue Jays don’t play the shift during Chris Davis’ at bat, it’s a routine double play ball and the Jays get out of the inning. Still though an off night for Cecil, which seems like it was his turn for an off night like everyone else in the pen has had. Rogers who came on in a high leverage spot with the game still in reach wasn’t any better than Cecil was, Rogers allowed four runs, three earned on five hits in 1 2/3 innings pitched.
It has been said so far this season that the Blue Jays starting pitching needs to pitch deeper into games to help save the bullpen, and thru 19 games this season they are right.
So I’ve decided to look at the numbers this season and see where the rotation ranks in terms of innings pitched and some of the interesting numbers and compare them to last season just to see where things all shake out.
At the 19 game point the rotation ranks 25th in innings pitched with 103.2, they have an ERA of 3.85 while allowing 42 walks while striking out 92.
The longest outing by a starter is Mark Buehrle’s 8.2 innings in his first start of the season, the Jays have only had three other occasions where a pitcher went seven innings, with R.A Dickey with one and Buehrle with the other two.
The rotation has failed to go five innings on four occasions, with the shortest outing belonging to Dustin McGowan who pitched 2.2 innings in the home opener against the Yankees.
At the 19 game point last season the rotation had pitched 103 innings, they had an ERA of 5.05, while allowing 37 walks and 83 strikeouts.
The longest outing a starter had was seven innings and that occurred twice once by Josh Johnson and Buehrle.
The rotation failed to go five innings in a game four times as well, with the shortest outing belonging to Josh Johnson who only pitched 1.1 innings in a loss in Detroit in the second week of the season.
At the 19 game point this season the bullpen has pitched 64.2 innings which ranks sixth in baseball with a 3.90 ERA, however, if you take out the two blowouts from the last road trip out of the equation the pen’s ERA would be 2.73. The Bullpen has allowed 39 walks, which is the second most behind the White Sox, and have struck out 71 batters which is fifth in baseball.
After 19 games last season the Bullpen had pitched 69.1 innings with a 3.37 ERA while walking 26 while striking out 57.
The number of innings thrown by the rotation and the bullpen this season are similar to last season at this point. The starting pitching this season is averaging 5.2 innings pitched which if you want to compete in the American League East isn’t going to cut it. Despite the early glitches by the pen I still think they can be a strength on this team, they have to improve their command however and cut down on walks, although the same can be said for the starting rotation right now. The Blue Jays desperately need R.A Dickey to get his knuckleball figured out and they need more innings out of Brandon Morrow who has only gone beyond the fifth inning once, twice if you count the leadoff single he allowed in the sixth in Cleveland Sunday before being taken out of the game.
Looking at the numbers overall highlights the need that the Jays had to sign a pitcher in the offseason to help out the rotation, and pitch deep into games right now. The Bullpen guys burned out last season and could suffer the same fate. Steve Delebar and Brett Cecil lead the pen in games pitched with nine, which over a full season works out to 77 games. Last season Cecil worked in 60 games while Delabar worked in 55 games. Aaron Loup led the team with 64 appearances and with 8 so far this season is on his way to matching or exceeding that number.
The good news would be that the Jays’ have done this without the services of Casey Janssen who is on the DL with the abdominal strain, it’s safe to say that once he comes back, he will replace one of the three long men currently in the pen and add more depth to the back-end of the pen which would be an added bonus for a bullpen trying to avoid being burnt out again this season.