The 16th week of the MLB schedule (July 19 – 25) saw the Jays wrap up a lengthy 10-game post-All-Star road trip with stops in Kansas City and Detroit. As if the travel wasn’t making the team weary enough, Mother Nature added more misery to the tired team by postponing Friday’s game and forcing a split doubleheader on Sunday. The Sunday evening finish will see the Jays arrive back in Toronto later than expected, with a pretty depleted bullpen to boot.
The 3-4 record compiled last week was a bit disappointing considering a) the fact that they lost two of three to the Royals, and b) they had a big lead heading into the 8th inning on Sunday. With the trade deadline falling on Saturday afternoon, this week may very well be the final time that fans will get a chance to see this years Jays in their current form.
Here are three things that came out of week 16:
1. What Could Have Been
Toronto finished the week with a losing record, but really should have done much better. The chance was there on Sunday for a sweep of the doubleheader, but a horrific eighth inning ruined that. In fact, the Blue Jays had a lead in all seven games last week, a few times late into the contest.
On Monday they took a 3-1 lead into the seventh, and then went ahead 4-3 in the tenth, only to see Kevin Gregg blow the save. Against Zack Greinke on Wednesday, Toronto was ahead early, 1-0 in the third, but couldn’t add to the lead and fell short in the end. They were ahead of Justin Verlander 2-0 in the fourth on Thursday and had plenty of chances to pad the lead but failed. Finally on Sunday Toronto’s bullpen couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead in the sixth, and a 4-2 lead in the eighth, falling to Detroit 6-5.
I know they are a young team and will learn from tight losses, but young or old, losing games like that are tough to take.
2. The Auditions are Open
The trade deadline is Saturday and by my count six Blue Jays are heavily involved in trade rumours. If opposing GM’s were using this week as an audition to scout those players, almost all would have passed with flying colours. Take a look at the stats over the past seven days for each of the Jays in question:
Jose Bautista – .333 avg, .988 OPS, 2 HR, 9 RBI
Lyle Overbay – .259 avg, .717 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI (game winning HR on Sunday)
John Buck – .333 avg, .952 OPS, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Scott Downs – 2.1 IP, 1 W, 0 ER, huge escape on Sunday afternoon
Kevin Gregg – blown save on Monday, but two 3-up 3-down saves the rest of the week
The only player who failed to shine under the watchful eye of the scouts was Jason Frasor, who crumbled in the night cap of yesterday’s double dip. But take out that performance and he actually had a nice week: 3.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K : 0 BB.
Not that I want to see any of those guys leave, but if they are ultimately deemed expendable, the fact that they upped their value last week is great news.
3. Encarnacion Lives!
If anybody out there is a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am not a big fan of Mr. Edwin Encarnacion. I have been unimpressed by his performance since he came into the big leagues with Cincinnati a few years ago and I continually added him to my fantasy baseball team. Now that he is a member of the Jays and I can see him up close, I have been even more disappointed in him. Both his effort and his results are often lacking.
But he looks like a completely different ball player since his return from triple-A Vegas, and I will be the first to say that I might have been wrong about him. Since being recalled to Toronto on July 3, Encarnacion has hit for a .319 avg, .802 OPS, 1 HR, and 6 RBI, and his play in the field has improved tremendously. Even more, he looks like he is trying now.
He has been even better recently. EE recorded a hit in all seven of Toronto’s games last week, extending his hitting streak to nine games. His numbers during the streak are outstanding: .361 avg, .906 OPS, 6 2B, 4 RBI. It is impossible to tell if he can keep this up, but the signs are encouraging. Sorry to doubt you Edwin. Thanks for proving me wrong.