Three Things From Week Eighteen

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One to forget.  That is how we should classify week 18 for the Blue Jays.  One to forget.

After righting the ship at the end of the last home stand, Toronto headed west for a seven games in seven days test against Seattle and Oakland, and were prolifically thumped.  After getting swept by Seattle and dropping the first two to Oakland the Jays had lost a season high six straight games, had fallen four games under .500 and were stuck in dead last. 

Credit the team for fighting back and taking the last two vs. the A’s, but with the amount of injuries that are hitting, this season has gone from one of promise to one that looks increasingly lost.

Here are three things from week 18:

Week 18: July 30  – August 5

Record: 2 – 5

1. This Is Getting Ridiculous

Teams suffer through injuries.  That is a part of sports – all sports, not just baseball.  Overcoming injury is what separates the good teams from the bad teams, and tests the character and drive of the players who are healthy. 

But I can not remember a time when I have seen anything like this.  On Friday night, both Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus left the game against Oakland due to injury, joining Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, and J.P. Arencibia on the sidelines.  55% of Toronto’s Opening Day lineup is now hurt – staggering.  Nobody is safe within the organization: starting pitchers are hurt, relief pitchers are hurt, offensive players are hurt, and even minor leaguers are getting hurt.  Will it end?

Apparently not.  The latest news out of the Blue Jays camp is that both Drew Hutchison (Tommy John surgery) and Dustin McGowan (shoulder surgery) will miss the remainder of the season, along with a good chunk of next season (as will Kyle Drabek).  Want worse news?  You got it!  Jose Bautista suffered a setback while swinging a bat last week, and even though he is due to come off the DL, he is not.  In fact, John Farrell said he is “optimistic that Jose will not miss the remainder of the season”.

The remainder of the season?  Let’s just fast forward to 2013 already.

2. Rookie Invasion

The biggest impact of all the injuries (aside from losing), is the invasion of rookies on Toronto’s 25-man roster.  Suddenly they’re everywhere!

Check out the boxscore from Saturday afternoon.  Heading into the game, the bottom four of the Jays lineup, all rookies, had combined to play 40 major league games: Yan Gomes (25), Moises Sierra (3), Anthony Gose (12), and Adeiny Hechavarria (0).  While it likely won’t do a whole lot of good for the win-loss record, I have to admit it is kind of fun watching the kids play.  After looking completely overmatched in his first few weeks, Gose put together a nice weekend at the plate, going 4 for 8 with two doubles, two runs, and an RBI, and has displayed a cannon of an arm in the outfield.  Sierra, aside from a few mental mistakes, has looked very good in his short amount of time in the big leagues, with 6 hits in his first 13 AB’s.

But it’s Hechavarria that is causing the biggest stir.  Signed as a free agent out of Cuba in 2010, Hechavarria is thought to be the shortstop of the future by some, and an overrated prospect who can’t hit by others.  His minor league numbers have never really been eye popping, and the fact that he looks like he’s 12 years old and weighs 85 pounds can’t help, but I’m not against his call-up.  With 2012 approaching throw-away territory, why not let the fans see what we’ve got coming up the pipeline?

Hopefully the future will be bright.

3. Good Start for the Rebuilt Bullpen

It’s no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays had a horrendous bullpen through the end of July.  One of the worst, if not THE worst, in the American League.  So when Alex Anthopoulos went out and reconstructed the ‘pen last week, it didn’t come as much of a surprise.  What is a surprise is how effective the new ‘pen is looking.

True, it is a very small sample size, but in the past six games, beginning Tuesday July 31st – the day after the Snider/Thames/Delabar/Lincoln trades – the Jays bullpen has been on fire.  In those six games, nine relievers have combined to throw 24.2 innings, with an ERA of 1.46, a WHIP of 1.09, and 31 strikeouts to 11 walks, good for an 11.31 K/9 ratio.

It’s also worth pointing out that the three biggest contributors to those numbers have been the three new acquisitions:

Brandon Lyon: 4.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9 K: 0 BB

Steve Delabar: 3.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 6 K: 2 BB

Brad Lincoln: 4.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 3 K: 2 BB

Lincoln did his best to try and win Friday’s extra inning marathon with 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, which should buy him at least a bit of love from fans angry about the Snider trade.  (For those counting, Snider is hitting .250 with a .566 OPS  for the Pirates).

So far so good.

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