Monday, 28 July 2014

July 28 - 2014 (A Good Day)

     Well, I guess we can all disregard my last negative post on how the Jays are not likely to do much better over the rest of the season.

     After three strong series wins over the Rangers, Red Sox, and Yankees, new life has sprung back into the team who are now looked at as serious contenders once again. To top this all off the Jays also traded Erik Kratz and Liam Hendriks to the Kansas City Royals for third-basemen Danny Valencia. This would most likely affect the lineup by moving Brett Lawrie to second (once he's off the DL), and send one of the young platoon players back to Buffalo.

     While the move wasn't a blockbuster trade by any means, it's definitely a significant one to cement the strength of the Blue Jays hitting rotation. He will most likely be used in situations against lefty pitchers, as he currently sports a .354 average against left-handed pitchers.

     The only thing holding him back from being a full starter is his weakness against right-handed pitchers, where he currently has a .178 average. No matter how he's used, this move is still something, and it is indeed better than nothing. Only time will tell if the Jays decide to improve the starting rotation before the end of the trade deadline.

     Despite the Jays winning ways since the all-star break, support for the pitching is still a big concern. Since the break, the Jays pitchers have had the 27th best (poor use of the word best) ERA in the majors, with 4.75. Before the break, they were 24th in ERA with 4.07 That isn't good.

     There isn't anything major the Jays will do to overhaul pitching in a few days, but something is better than nothing. Anything would be nice.

     All negativity aside, the Jays are still getting W's, against good teams as well. Once Lawrie and Encarnacion are healthy once again, the Jays will surely be performing at an even higher level. Only time will tell how this season ends, and we're all sitting on the end of our seats waiting to see how it all wraps up.

     And that 14-1 lead the Jays currently have doesn't hurt.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Pre All-Star Break Review

     So how about that month of May right? Of their 49 wins before the All-Star Break, 21 of those came in the month of May, compared to the next highest total (from a full month) of 12 wins in April. It's safe to say that without that stretch (why even bother saying this), the Jays would not be in second place where they currently sit in the AL East.

     Outside of that month, there have been some positives from the season so far. The Jays have had a (somewhat) breakout in Marcus Stroman, who has proven to be a dominant starting pitcher thus far. Mark Buehrle continues to put up solid numbers, despite not always getting the decision that he deserves. The Jays sent 3 players to Minnesota. Muni makes us giggle every once in a while. Is there anything that I'm missing? Frankly that's all I can think of at this point.

     At the beginning of the season, the Jays were a blank canvas on what to expect. Some said that the World Series potential was still there, some said they will be just as bad, some said they will be better, but most of us had no idea what the hell to expect. After a disappointing start to April, Blue Jays fans set in for what was expected to be another slow season, filled with disappointment and probably some big injuries, as usual.

     But then MAY. As yes, May. So much optimism, so much hope. We had no idea that was coming, how could you predict a run like that? After what happened seemingly overnight, the Jays were immediately playoff contenders once again. They were that team that no one wanted to even think about pitching to, and everything seemed to click perfectly.

     The Jays started May 2.5 games back of first place, but finished with a 2.5 game lead over the Yankees for first place in the division. And then, all of a sudden, it just fell apart. Sure, its effects didn't resonate in the standings for a few weeks to come, but everyone felt it was coming.

     The hitters weren't hitting, the pitchers (while stronger than the batting) were not producing in clutch situations, and it just didn't work. Of course the talent is still there now, but with key pieces injured for a few more weeks, pitching not showing any major signs of improvement, and nothing being done to fix it is not a healthy combo.

     The once vibrant optimism that lit up every Blue Jays fan is seemingly gone, and I don't sense it coming back any time soon. But who knows with this team, and believe me I want to have hope restored once again, but it just seems improbable.

     As a Toronto fan, I'd start looking forward to the Raptors season by now so you can at least have some optimism in you.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

(Late) June Month In Review

     I'd like to start off by apologizing for not posting for the past few weeks, as I've been finishing up exams (yes I'm still in high school) and enjoying vacation in British Columbia. I'm writing this while overlooking the beach, so I'm going to try and make this quick. 

     The month of June was not a pleasant one for the Jays, as they sported a 12-15 record, yet still maintained 1st place in the AL East throughout the month (up until recently in July). After coming off the red-hot month of May, the Jays were brought down by injuries here and there throughout the month, as well as the chemistry that was there before has seemingly disappeared. 

     The batting stats from the month haven't been awful, with the Jays 14th in runs (105, coming to 3.8 runs per game), 6th in home runs (28), 19th in average (.248), and 13th in OBP (.315). These numbers aren't terrible by any stretch, but they aren't the numbers of a 1st place team. With two big pieces in Lawrie and Encarnacion injured, the Jays batting won't be back at 100% for a few weeks to come, and that's just being hopelessly optimistic that Encarnacion isn't going to be out for too long.

     On the pitching side of things, the Jays were 19th in ERA (3.93), 25th in SO (182), 22nd in WHIP (1.32), and 20th in opponent BAA (.257). The numbers are definitely lower in pitching compared to batting, and they are getting into the lowest ranks in the MLB. 

     If there's any positives to take from pitching this month, it's that Marcus Stroman has been able to compete at the major league level with no problem since being converted to a starter, as he's sported a 2-2 record, with a 2.67 ERA and 7.77 K/9 in June. This may encourage the Jays to look further to their farm systems, and potentially call up top-prospect Aaron Sanchez. Whether the Jays turn that route or not, something needs to be done to improve pitching, as something\s needed to be done since April.

      Altogether, the current direction the Jays are headed doesn't look to be improving, and Jays fans can expect another slow month. A revival of the team doesn't seem impossible, but it doesn't look all that likely right now.