Who knew that the most important day of the 2012 Blue Jays schedule might end up being an off day in July?
If Toronto can somehow sneak into the postseason, I don’t see how Thursday July 19th isn’t looked upon as a big turning point. Think about it: the Jays were thoroughly smashed by New York on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, had added Bautista and Lawrie to the wounded list, and were getting set to go to Fenway Park. They were two games under .500, in dead last, and looked absolutely terrible against the Yankees. The season was falling apart.
But things shockingly turned around in Boston, with the Jays pulling off a sweep of the BoSox. Whatever Farrell, Anthopoulos and rest the coaching staff did or said to the team on the off day really sunk in.
Let’s hope it lasts, cause this upcoming week promises to be even tougher.
Here are three things from week 16:
Week 16: July 16 - July 22
Record: 3 – 3
1. Welcome Back Travis
Jays fans wanted him, and Jays fans finally got him. It took 92 games to do it, but Travis Snider finally made his return to the big leagues with a Thursday night call up, and started all three games against the Red Sox in Boston. It’s only been three games and the sample size is small, but the returns have looked good. Really good.
Snider has gone 4 for 11 with 2 walks thus far, good for a .364 AVG and 1.112 OPS. He has belted a double and a mammoth 3-run HR, and has looked great in left field as well.
However, if there is a word of warning, it’s this: Snider looked incredible last year upon his return to the big leagues. He was recalled on July 4th, and went 3 for 5 in his first game back, before hitting .391 with a 1.048 OPS in his first 11 games. From there, the wheels came off again, ultimately ending in yet another demotion to the minors.
But this is 2012, and Travis is another year older and wiser. There’s no way he’s heading back to Vegas.
2. A Tale of Two Aaron’s
They have several things in common. They are both named Aaron. They both have last names that start with the letter “L”. They are both pitchers. They both throw with their left hand.
And both are coming through for the Jays at a time when the team needs them the most.
Since moving into the starting rotation, Aaron Laffey has done everything the Jays have wanted and more. In five starts, the LHP is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA, and a 1.23 WHIP. He has pitched five innings or more in every start, including a season high seven shutout innings on Friday against Boston.
Aaron Loup has only made four appearances out of the bullpen, and one of them was bad – the 8th inning meltdown against the Yanks on Monday night. But his other three outings have been spectacular: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, for a 0.00 ERA and a 0.00 WHIP. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Toronto’s pitching woes have been well documented, and it is imperative that the team weather the storm of injury and ineffectiveness to have any chance at all at October baseball. The two Aaron’s are doing more than their share to keep the ship from sinking.
3. Trade Winds Are Blowing
With the ten player deal that went down on Friday afternoon, Alex Anthopoulos officially kicked off trade deadline fever in this city. To say the trade was a blockbuster would be an exaggeration, but it was big in that it cleared out some dead weight on the roster (see you later Francisco twins!) and brought back a couple of arms that are still attached to bodies.
But what will happen next? The consensus among Jays fans – and among many baseball experts – is that AA isn’t done wheeling and dealing, especially not with Toronto only 3 back of the Wild Card, on a roll, and needing pitching. Is Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, or Zack Greinke getting set to the join the Jays? Does AA pull off a stunner and nab Justin Upton from Arizona?
The answer to those questions is no.
We know Anthopoulos by now. He will make a move, but it will be for a player whose name has never been mentioned in the rumour mill. That is a 500 Level Fan guarantee.