Three Things From Week Four

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The fourth week of the 2012 season can be called a reverse sandwich week for the Jays. Normally the best part of a sandwich is what’s in the middle, but that wasn’t the case last week.

The week began with great promise, as Toronto completed a four game sweep of KC on Monday night, and ended with a flourish – two straight blowout wins over Seattle.

Too bad about the middle. Four straight losses, including a three game sweep in Baltimore, that not only crushed Toronto’s momentum – it also destroyed one of 500 Level Fan’s 2012 predictions. There’s no way the Jays can go 16-2 against the O’s now…

Here are three things from week 4:

Week 4: April 23 – April 29

Record: 3 – 4

1. Edwin on Fire!

We here at 500 Level Fan don’t call him EFMEE (Everybody’s Favourite Man Edwin Encarnacion) for nothing. Our top notch staff here (a staff of one, by the way) predicted big things for EE this year, and so far he is not disappointing. Edwin is currently sitting T-3rd in the AL with 7 HR, T-3rd with 20 RBI, and 7th with a 1.005 OPS.

In addition, while many on the team were scuffling last week, EE definitely was not. In seven games, Edwin hit for a 1.065 OPS, 3 HR, and 7 RBI, including three consecutive games with a dinger over the weekend – one of them a game changing grand slam.

For a team that has traditionally had a hard time getting production from the DH spot, the Blue Jays are loving Edwin’s hot start. And so is Edwin. Last season he didn’t hit his 7th HR until July 20th and faced constant questions about his productivity, his struggles, and his future with the team. Now that he has moved into the DH role full time, it looks like there’s nowhere to go but up.

2. Bullpen Woes

Without a doubt, the bullpen was Toronto’s weak spot in 2011. The failures of the relief corps last year were well documented, as was AA’s quest this offseason to repair it. While on paper the relievers look much, much better, in reality it’s been the same old story.

Through yesterday’s games, Toronto’s bullpen ranks 4th last in the AL with a 4.52 ERA and fifth last with a 1.34 WHIP. They have allowed 10 HR, third most in the league, and have already blown five saves, one fewer than the Angels. Five members of the ‘pen have an ERA greater than 5.00: Cordero, Janssen, Frasor, Santos, and Villanueva. Luis Perez, Toronto’s best reliever thus far, was roughed up on Friday, just after Cordero – the interim closer with Santos on the DL – blew a 2-run lead in the 9th.

It’s still early, and there is plenty of time for things to turn around. But this is not the start the Blue Jays were looking for.

3. King Alvarez

He’s only 22 years old but he’s pitching like a much more experienced man. After another dynamite start yesterday, Henderson Alvarez looks like the real deal.

He has made five starts and has pitched into the 6th inning in all of them. His one blip was against Tampa, but other than that he has been lights out. An ERA of 3.62, a WHIP of 1.11, and a composure that is through the roof show that Alvarez is slowly turning into one of Toronto’s most consistent starters. If the Blue Jays could score any runs for him, the rookie might be 4-1 in 2012.

It’s not all sunshine and lollipops for Alvarez, as some of his peripherals are concerning. He only has 9 strikeouts to go with 9

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walks, for poor 1.00 K/BB and 2.5 K/9 ratios. He has also hit three batters in 32.1 IP. But he is showing he isn’t afraid to pitch to contact, and with Toronto’s airtight defense behind him who can blame him?

Again – it’s early. But Alvarez has turned in enough solid performances to convince many that just maybe Toronto’s rotation – supposed to be a major weakness in 2012 – is actually a strength.

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