It was a strange weekend in the 500 Level Fan household: I didn’t watch a single pitch of the entire Texas series. Between some outdoor work, a dinner, and a trip to the parents house, the Jays never made it to the TV or the radio, for the first time all season.
But it seems that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t participate in any baseball activities over the weekend. From the looks of it, neither did any of the Toronto Blue Jays. After dropping the final two in a three game set in Tampa, Toronto was thoroughly, soundly, and brutally thumped by the Texas Rangers. In losing all three games, the Jays were outscored 34 – 16, outhit 44 – 32, outhomered 10 – 5, and out-extra-base-hit 19 – 11. It was really, really ugly.
If there is a silver lining, it’s this: we’re still ahead of Boston.
Here are three things from week 8:
Week 8: May 21 – May 27
Record: 1 – 5
1. Starting Pitcher Woes
At the beginning of the season Toronto’s starting staff was the talk of baseball. They were young and raw, but they were succeeeding by going deep into games, giving up very few runs, and most importantly by winning. I think we can all say that regression was expected as the season grew longer, but nobody thought the regression would come so hard and so fast.
Last week was an outright disaster for Blue Jay starters. In six games, the numbers were flat out ugly:
1 – 3 record, 25.1 IP, 11.01 ERA, 2.13 WHIP, 20 BB : 15 K, 7.11 BB/9, 8 HR allowed
It’s very difficult to win games when the starting pitchers allow over seven walks per nine innings, walk more batters than they strikeout, and allow more than one home run per game. Earlier this year the Jays had a streak of 34 consecutive games where a starter went at least five IP. Last week in six games Jays starters only averaged 4.2 IP/start.
Each starter seems to have his own set of issues. Romero and Drabek are walking far too many batters. Hutchison is starting to see teams for a second time and has to make adjustments. Alvarez can’t strike hitters out. Morrow seems to have a hard time facing good teams. Combine all of that into one rotation and you have a recipe for extreme volatilty with disaster always around the corner.
There is a big learning curve with starting rotations, and the Jays have one of the youngest in baseball. Though it might not look pretty at times in 2012, I think we can call these growing pains, pains that are helping to pave a path to success in 2013 and beyond.
2. Rasmus is Coming Around
When the Jays acquired Colby Rasmus at the deadline last year, the Twitter world blew up with excitement. We had just brought in a potential superstar for a couple of spare parts!! Happy days!!
Sadly, Rasmus disappointed at the end of 2011, and despite fresh hope in 2012, he looked overmatched and quite hopeless early on this season. It got to the point where John Farrell benched his CF, holding him out of the starting lineup on both May 18 and May 19 against the Mets. Maybe the days off helped him clear his head, maybe he took in some extra practice, or maybe he just realized he has to step it up, because Colby has been a completely different player since being reinstated.
In the seven games since coming back into the lineup, Rasmus has gone 10 for 30, with a .333 AVG, .733 SLG, 1.127 OPS, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 2B, and 2 SB. Those are numbers that are more in line with what we all thought he’d be doing as a Blue Jay. He has even earned the trust of his manager, batting second the past two games in Texas as Kelly Johnson takes some time off with leg issues. Rasmus’ mini hot streak has pushed his season OPS from .615 to .709, good enough for 5th best on the team.
3. Roster Moves Aplenty
Despite Toronto’s recent struggles, we know thing for sure – Alex Anthopoulos is not simply waiting around for the team to improve. He has been extremely busy in the last few days tinkering with the major league roster. Take a look at his activity:
– Optioned Evan Crawford to Las Vegas
– Placed Ben Francisco on the DL
– Transferred Dustin McGowan to the 60-day DL
– Recalled David Cooper from Las Vegas
– Called up Ryota Igarashi from Las Vegas
After Igarashi disappointed in a few appearances over the weekend, he was designated for assignment and Jesse Chavez was brought up from Vegas. AA then sent Yan Gomes back to Vegas and recalled RHP Chad Beck, only to send Beck back down today and bring up Aaron Laffey.
Well, don’t let your guard down because things might not be done. Kelly Johnson left Friday’s game early and then sat out Saturday and Sunday with a hamstring issue. Then on Sunday, SS Yunel Escobar left the game with soreness in his groin. Neither player has been placed on the DL (and neither might have to be), but it’s a situation that bears watching. More call-ups could be on the way.