Tuesday, July 12, 2016

At the break, Jays looking good

The Toronto Blue Jays are looking good at the All Star Break - having won 8 of the last 10 games on the schedule - including a 7 game win streak.

Via espn/mlb http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings - retrieved 07/11/16

The team's starting pitching has reclaimed it's dominant position in the League with the 2nd lowest Team ERA - second only in the American League to the Cleveland Indians.

Tm        W   L  ERA    G      IP
CLE      52  36 3.63   87   801.0
TOR      51  40 3.76   90   823.2
HOU      48  41 3.87   88   813.2
SEA      45  44 3.95   88   795.1
CHW      45  43 4.02   87   789.2
KCR      45  43 4.18   87   774.2
LgAvg    45  44 4.29   88     789
BAL      51  36 4.35   86   773.0
TEX      54  36 4.42   89   806.0
BOS      49  38 4.43   86   778.0
NYY      44  44 4.45   87   771.1
LAA      37  52 4.52   88   784.1
TBR      34  54 4.57   87   773.2
DET      46  43 4.57   88   789.0
OAK      38  51 4.73   88   786.2
MIN      32  56 4.97   87   778.1
        671 657 4.29 1313 11838.1

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2016.

As well - in mid-June - the batting order started to purr.

The Jays are scoring more runs, conceding less runs, and playing pretty good defense.

Starting after a shut out loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on June 13th - the Jays scored 5 or more runs in 17 of their next 25 games up to the All Star Break - winning 16.

Leading the team with a .306 batting average, Josh Donaldson is having a career year again; and the bat of left fielder Michael Sanders, batting .298, is a pleasant surprise. Speaking of surprises, Darwin Berry at second base is hitting .296 !

And now all are re-joined by the bat of Tulowitzki, now sporting career average numbers. Since his return on June 18th - his activation off the DL(quad strain) - over those 20 games up to the break - Tulowitzki has hit .313 (25 hits in 80 at bats) with seven home runs and 20 RBI !

Encarnacion remains steady - slamming mistake pitches into the decks with god-like power. In a July 9, 2016 Sportsnet article titled, "Adjustments key to Encarnacion’s latest hot streak for Blue Jays" author Arden Zwelling writes,
"..in 34 games since the beginning of June he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball, batting .314/.430/.711 with 13 home runs and an even 25:25 strikeout to walk ratio."
(slash line = Batting Average / On Base Percentage / Slugging Percentage)

Pillar's contact has been better of late too, hitting .268 by the break. Pillar leads the team in at bats (plays every day), has 21 doubles, 2 triples to go with his 7 homeys.

Manager Gibbons is using tandems to fill in for Jose Bautita (injured - right big toe impact) in right field, using a combination of Ezequiel Carrera, and new guy, Junior Lake. Lake mostly comes off the bench, but gets a start in right the odd time - or a spell at first. Lake also pinch runs late in close games or in blow-outs to rest a starter.

After coming up from Buffalo in mid-June Lake had 10 AB's - and now in July - also 10. He's 2 for 4 when batting with runners in scoring position with 1 RBI. With his speed and base running smarts, he has changed the character of an innings several times. (The Blue Jays claimed Lake off waivers on December 15, 2015 from the Baltimore Orioles and was added to the active roster on June 24th.)

Starting Pitching

J.A. Happ has had 18 starts, 12 quality starts, and is 13-3 with a 3.36 ERA.

Aaron Sanchez has had 18 starts, 14 quality starts, 9-1 with a 2.97 ERA.

Marco Estrada has 16 starts, 12 quality starts, and is 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA.

Marcus Stroman has had 18 starts, 10 quality starts, is 10-7 with a 4.89 ERA.

R.A. Dickey has had 19 starts, 10 quality starts, is 7-9 with a 3.93 ERA.

Too Many Starters - Not Enough Starters

Rumor has it that Hutchinson is being looked at as a possible replacement in the starting staff for Aaron Sanchez - as sophomore-rookie's Innings Pitched totals rise to levels he has never worked before:

Aaron Sanchez IP by Year/League

2016 ... 118.1 IP (All Star Break)
2015 ..... 9.2 IP (injured - bull pen);
2014 ... 133.1 IP (100.1 IP Jays' AA, AAA clubs, 33 IP with the Blue Jays;
2013 ... 109.2 IP (A+ ball); and,
2012 .... 90.1 IP (A ball).

Drew Hutchinson started his first game in the majors since April on Thursday, July 7th - at home against Detroit in a spot start for injured starter Marco Estrada (15 Day DL) --- with some success:

Hutchison 2016                        IP  H R ER BB SO 
April 23 (Jays 6-3 Athletics)(W, 1-0) 5.2 4 2 2  3  5 
July 7th (Tigers 4-5 Jays)  (ND, 1-0) 6.0 6 3 3  1  7

The Jays immediately optioned him back to Buffalo (AAA) after the spot start.

Buffalo (triple-A) ... 87.1 IP / 6-3 / 3.13 ERA
Blue Jays (AL) ....... 12.2 IP / 1-0 / 4.97 ERA

Drew Hutchinson - Career

Year        Tm         Lg  W  L  ERA  G GS    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO
2010   TOR-min        A-A  2  3 2.49 15 15  68.2  51  25  19  19  63
2011   TOR-min      AA+AA 14  5 2.53 28 27 149.1 120  51  42  35 171
2012   TOR-min         AA  2  1 2.16  3  3  16.2  16   4   4   3  12
2012       TOR         AL  5  3 4.60 11 11  58.2  59  31  30  20  49
2013   TOR-min FalAAAA+AA  2  5 4.26 16 15  57.0  54  32  27  20  62
2014       TOR         AL 11 13 4.48 32 32 184.2 173  92  92  60 184
2015   TOR-min        AAA  0  1 4.50  1  1   4.0   3   2   2   3   4
2015       TOR         AL 13  5 5.57 30 28 150.1 179 103  93  44 129
2016   TOR-min        AAA  6  3 2.78 15 15  87.1  62  30  27  31  97
2016       TOR         AL  1  0 4.97  3  2  12.2  13   7   7   4  12
4 Yrs                     30 21 4.92 76 73 406.1 424 233 222 128 374
162 Game Avg.             14 10 4.92 35 33   185 194 106 101  58 171

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2016.

Just who will replace Sanchez in the starting rotation is as yet unclear. Manager John Gibbons has recently mentioned Jesse Chavez and Joe Biagini.

Relief Pitching

Roberto Osuna has appeared in 39 games and is 2-1 with 18 Saves in 39.2 IP; he has a very good Strike Outs per 9IP ratio of 10.89 with a 2.27 ERA

Jason Grilli appears to be the Set-up pitcher for the Closer Osuna (15 appearances, 13.2 IP, 2 Wins, 1 Loss, 1 Save and 4 Holds, 2.63 ERA)

Jesse Chavez doesn't seem to have a specific role on this team - he's brought in whenever Gibby thinks he needs him / thinks he can get away with using him: sometimes that's as a pitcher/batter match-up in a key situation; sometimes for one inning - or two; but most often he's asked to get 4 or 5 outs. Recently Gibby used him for 3 innings! Chavez has played in 33 games, has 9.17 K/9IP resulting in 0-2 win/loss record, 7 Holds and a 3.41 ERA.

Joe Biagini gets the ball for 1 or 2 innings and in May was very stingy with the runs allowed; but in June began to get into trouble more often and gave up sometimes multiple runs - sometimes without getting any outs! In July, with 4 appearance, he seems to be back to completing his innings while giving up a run, but not breaking. Biagini has 31 appearances, is 3-1 with a Save and 2 Holds with an excellent 2.91 ERA.

Drew Storen  has been given the ball for 3 outs and that's all he gets. He gets through innings by giving up hits but limiting the damage (when he's on), other times he gets into trouble and can't get himself out of it and multiple runs cross the plate. Storen has made 26 appearances, is 1-3 with 3 Saves and 8 Holds with a 5.63 ERA

Gavin Floyd - 4.06 ERA
Brett Cecil - 5.14 ERA
Chad Girodo - 4.35 ERA

All stats: Baseball Reference | http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Sportsnet July 9, 2016 | Adjustments key to Encarnacion’s latest hot streak for Blue Jays - by Arden Zwelling | http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/adjustments-key-encarnacions-latest-hot-streak-blue-jays/


Monday, April 4, 2016

Blue Jay's 1st Win ushers in spring storm.

#BBBA - Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Blue Jay's 1st Win under the Dome in Florida ushers in spring storm in Toronto.

All is as it appeared to be in last year's playoff run; the Blue Jays - economically, and team-wise - look exactly like the team that lost in game 6 of the 2015 ALCS ...

Except for the snow sliding sideways in Toronto at the time.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Exiled MLB pitcher, Bill Lee on Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders:

Via Wicked Local Waltham - Needham, Massachusetts - October 14, 2015

At SouthCoast Business Expo, Bill 'Spaceman' Lee gets down to business — eventually

By Kevin P. O'Connor, Herald News Staff Reporter


Exiled MLB pitcher Bill Lee on Bernie Sanders:

He was asked how he thought his neighbor, Bernie Sanders, did in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate.

“This is going to be taped for the second Democratic debate,” he said. “I’m going against Hillary.”

Sanders, he said, is a hippie who migrated to Vermont in the 1960s and stayed.

“Bernie came up from New Jersey,” Lee said. “I guarantee he was hiding from something.

“When you are a Republican, you are born with really short arms. Sort of like a Tyrannosaurus rex. Your arms are too short to reach your pockets.”

He just called Hillary a dinosaur. :)


Friday, September 11, 2015

"Strategy First" 4-part Interview Series with mlb exiled baseball player, Bill "The Spaceman" Lee

In 2012, Youtube Channel "StrategyFirstGames" uploaded these four long interviews with MLB exiled baseball player Bill "The Spaceman" Lee.

You can figure out where and in what year each interview is filmed by listening for references. Seems to have been shot at different locations in Canada and the US in the northeast and the northwest over three years.

Michael Holloway Playlist: "Strategy First" 4-part Interview Series with Baseball Player, Bill Lee - https://youtu.be/sr89Jyeza2Y?list=PLTpRV6DI_Sr2rl9qiouNQ70ukbPZVFewo

Part 1 Strategy First Bill "The Spaceman" Lee Interview Part 1 (48:34 - Toronto, Ontario - guessing summer 2007) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr89Jyeza2Y
Part 2 Strategy First Bill "The Spaceman" Lee Interview Part 2 (1:22:43 - Swanton, Vermont - fall/winter 2007) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY3vYNoQrok
Part 3 Strategy First Bill "The Spaceman" Lee Interview Part 3 (1:15:56 - Northern California, summer 2008) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm0xLasdW1w
Part 4 Strategy First Bill "The Spaceman" Lee Interview Part 4 (1:48:57 - Swanton, Vermont - spring 2009) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLs1J4Yg6xE


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hutchison tested - and fails; as Gibbons sets aside Gm 3 in Boston in preparation for Yankees series, Jays' Playoff run

(No sources, no quotes - just gleaning as much as I can glean from beside a radio in Leslieville, Toronto, Canada.)

Over the last 4 Drew Hutchison Starts* I've seen Jays management first, do everything they could to help Mr Hutchison succeed - and then after some success in that regard - begin to expose him to higher and higher leverage situations.

This start on the road against the Boston Red Sox was likely the last step in that process for Hitchison as Starter - and with minor league pitchers now up from Buffalo auditioning (badly) for the Jays' bullpen - we have likely seen Hutchison's last start in the Jays' rotation; and the beginning of his next life this season - as a member of the Blue Jays' bullpen.

This wasn't a plan etched in stone I don't think - but it must have been part of the way of going about these things for Jays' management that included an eye on the progress of Marcus Stroman (rehabbing since a ACL tear in spring training). Perhaps if Stroman wasn't progressing as fast as he appears to be, Hutchinson may have been left at home again on this road trip (as the Jays did on their last road trip - August 18th to 27th).

With Stroman on the Blue Jays bench since Hutchison's last start in Toronto, on August 29th (part of an array of increased leverage in the last application of it), it must have seemed serendipitous to start Hutchison in this second last road trip of the Blue Jays regular season.

This evening in Boston Hutchison was posting zeros, helped by his defense and luck, for 2 innings before getting shelled for 4 in the 3rd Inning. In the 4th all hell broke loose.

Hutchison lasted 3.1 Innings giving up 5 runs while in the game, plus leaving a runner on for Aaron Loup (inherited run NOT allowed), and Liam Hendricks (one inherited run allowed - on a double).

Steve Delabar, up from the farm auditioning for a playoff roster spot, got slammed in the 5th, giving up 4 runs on 4 hits while posting only 1 out. Jeff Francis (one inherited run scored) had to bail out Delabar, and continued to pitch for the rest of the game.... and looked good doing it; albeit in a laugher by that time, as by the bottom of the 6th Gibbons had substituted the Toronto Blue Jays for the Buffalo Bisons.

The question I'm looking to answer on the rest of this road trip: are the Jays really a .700 Ball Club (their pace since the trades) ... Or are they in fact mortal after all? With the Drew Hutchison as high leverage Starter experiment likely over - the Jury in that case, is still out. Time will tell.

On to New York City for 4, where the (really playing rather well right now) Evil Empire awaits.

* Baseball Reference | Drew Hutchison | 2015 Pitching Gamelog | http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=hutchdr01&t=p&year=

Box score for this game: ESPN | http://espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=350909102


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tomorrow: another opportunity to be, in the swirl that is a universe of chaos

Orioles at Jays - September 4, 2015

Jays loose 10 - 2; Yankees win - Jays are .5 a game up in the Al East

I can think of dozen reasons this game played out the way it did:
  • the Umpire's wild strike zone;
  • plays not made by the defense;
  • Stroman arriving on the bench on a Hutchison Start day;
  • Jays line-up (uncharacteristically) swinging at balls outside the strike zone;
  • Jimenez's (Tactic?) of delaying throwing the ball in the early innings;
  • a bad read by Goins of a hit ball to right - where he didn't advance to 3B with no outs;
  • Goins triple clutch on a DP ball that went from a sure 2 outs, to perhaps one out, to no outs;
  • Bo Shultz first time out in a hold-the-deficit-where-it-is situation (blows the game wide open giving up 4);
  • On any given day Baltimore is better than the standings reflect.

Goins appears a lot in that list, but don't get me wrong, a cusp player who plays great with a winning team - that's winning - often looks much better than he actually is, especially on a team that's experiencing the inevitable losses that even great teams must suffer; the great team itself often better than the Team - against any team than is actually is.

These are the wages of excellence.

Key moments in a game often get magnified later. One was the odd play in LF in the 6th, when the Baltimore's re-took the lead just after the Jays had tied the game - when on a jump at the wall for an out, became a HR when the ball ricocheted out of Revere's glove in an unlikely, seemingly impossible single-bullet-theory bit of physics, finding itself on the other side of the wall.

MLB Advanced Media Embed

Baltimore Orioles  IP   H  R ER BB SO HR  PC-ST  ERA
Jiménez(W, 10-9)   5.2  4  2 1  6  4  0   95-54  4.24

A test of faith in a game that offers a lot of that; tomorrow another opportunity to be.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Series Win over Tribe likely a Social Engineering play - courtesy of Jays Front Office

Indians at Jays September 2, 2015 - 7:07p

R A Dickey / Josh Thole batteried win tonight likely a brilliantly engineered, physiological management win - courtesy of the Blue Jays front office.

In keeping Thole on the roster for Dickey starts - by any-means-necessary (by optioning him first to AAA Buffalo in the last rotation which included 3 off days, and then to A Ball Lansing Lugnuts this week (which shortened his option because the league season ended - and that meant that - by MLB rules - his necessary stint there ended; which allowed the Jays to recall him to the 40-man roster early ... as in - for Dickey's next start) - allowed this feel-good start by the veteran knuckle-baller who goes to 10 Wins and 10 losses with a 4.09 ERA over 28 starts with a 7 win and no loses run starting after a July 18th loss to Tampa Bay that had the veteran at 3 and 10.

The importance of the 'Battery' when it comes to knuckle ballers was front and centre tonight. Through-out the game I recorded moments when Thole pulled into the strike zone, pitches that were called strikes - but which were in fact, balls.

The pitches that were fooling the Tribe, I thought, were also in the coarse of events, fooling Umpire Andy Fletcher. In one such instance - in the 3rd - the erratic-ness of the knuckle ball/fastball/change-up combination resulted in a 13-pitch inning - and that - the inning after Dickey fooled the opponents in a 3-up 3-down, 6 pitch inning in the 2nd - together which undoubtedly helped shut down the Indians over all but for 1 run in the 4th - their only run.

Image: BrooksBaseball | R. A. Dickey against Indians, September 2, 2015 - Inside/Outside pitch zone with number in at-bat | http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=9&day=2&year=2015&game=gid_2015_09_02_clemlb_tormlb_1%2F&pitchSel=285079&prevGame=gid_2015_09_02_clemlb_tormlb_1%2F&prevDate=92&league=mlb

Also of note in this game was the running play by Josh Donaldson in the 2nd with the bases loaded - that intuited the fact that the Jays weren't scoring a lot of runs against this hot Indians team* - Donaldson at third decided to make a try for a run with 2-out (after the hit-ball-out) with a 4-0 lead - to steal home on a high pop to shallow right-centre which Kipnis was peddling backward on when he made the catch - and beat the throw just up the third base line by jumping over the catchers' arm-swinging tag and landing with his left hand on the plate!

MLB Video:

On the defensive side of the equation - of note was the play by Goins in the 7th in which he tracked the ball hit to the deep hole at second (in shallow right-centre), made the catch of the ground ball and then planted and turned 270 degrees with his next step and panted a throw to the outside corner of the 1B bag - which Smoak scooped nicely for the out.

MLB Video:

* By "a lot" I refer back to my previous "Tweet-post" (see embed below) about the jays' scoring 'slump' following the Yankess series loss at the end of their 11 game winning streak - which meant they weren't scoring more than 5 runs per game; which matches their god-like scoring performance through that streak and in fact through the entire season (5.49 Runs/Gm).