Talk about a litmus test for the young kids dressed in Blue Jays uniforms. The recently concluded 10-game homestand saw three games against the AL East leading New York Yankees, four against the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox, and three against the AL West leading Texas Rangers (coming after playing three in Tampa against the Wild Card leading Rays). It was a chance for the kids to show what they’re made of against tough competition, and a chance to play spoiler.
Well, the end results didn’t look good. But, speaking as an optimist, the Jays didn’t look all that overmatched. They let a few games get away late against the Sox, and were right there with the Rangers until yesterday’s clunker. If it’s true that you learn from the best, then Toronto’s contingent of rookies should have had a great learning experience.
Here are three things from week 20:
Week 20: August 13 - August 19
Record: 2 – 5
1. The Amazing Flying Anthony Gose
He’s still having a hard time hitting (.203 average, .551 OPS) and getting on base regularly (.280 OBP), but one thing’s for certain: Anthony Gose can fly.
In seven games last week, Gose swiped six bases – one per game in six straight games – despite the fact that he only started four of them. His bat is also slowly waking up, as he managed a .250 average in 12 at-bats, including his first career major league triple. Gose now has 10 stolen bases on the season, good enough to rank him T-38th in the American League, amazing considering he didn’t play his first game until July 17th.
I predicted last year that Rajai Davis would break Dave Collins’ long standing stolen base record (60 in 1984), and it didn’t come to fruition. Whenever the day comes that Anthony Gose is Toronto’s everyday CF or LF, lookout Dave – that record is history.
2. Steve K Delabar
According to baseball-reference, Steve Delabar’s middle name is Edward. But last Monday it might as well have been K. In the 10th inning against Chicago, Delabar became the 27th pitcher in American League history (and the first Blue Jay) to strike out four batters in an inning. He whiffed Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers swinging to start the inning, but Jeff Mathis allowed the third strike to get by him, allowing Flowers to reach. Undaunted, Delabar got Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza swinging to end the inning.
That outing was the first in a good week for Delabar. The righty that the Jays picked up for Eric Thames at the deadline, tossed 4.2 IP, allowing 0 ER, 2 H, and 3 BB while striking out 9. Overall, since joining the Blue Jays Delabar has been a rock. In 10.1 IP he has allowed only 3 ER, 7 H, and 5 BB for an ERA 2.61 and a WHIP of 1.16. Plus, he has struck out 17 for an impressive K/9 ratio of 14.8.
Not a lot was known about Delabar when he was acquired other than that he has a big arm. So far, he’s proving to be a shrewd pick up.
3. Buffalo Baby! Buffalo!
It doesn’t have the same ring to it as Vegas Baby! Vegas! , and it’s definitely not as glamorous, but one thing is for sure – it’s a hell of a lot closer.
It’s by no means official as of yet, but reports out of ESPN New York make it seem inevitable that the Blue Jays will be shifting their AAA affiliate from Las Vegas to Buffalo, with the New York Mets moving from Buffalo to Vegas. This is very good news for the Jays and their fans for so many reasons, but mainly these three:
1 – As I said above it’s closer. The Jays can conceivably call a player up in the afternoon and have him arrive at the ballpark later that evening, a luxury that was impossible with the 51′s being across the continent.
2 – Keeping on the “it’s closer” wavelength, Toronto fans will now have a 2-ish hour drive to see the farm team play, as opposed to a 4+ hour flight. It should drum up even more excitement for the fans in the Toronto area, as well as for the fans living close to the border.
3 – The most important benefit of all: it will get Toronto out of the Pacific Coast League, with its inflated run totals and offense. Toronto has routinely left their best pitchers in AA ball in order to ensure they wouldn’t have to deal with PCL parks, parks that are often in thin air where the ball flies out of the yard. Not only will minor league stats mean something (as opposed to being taken with a grain of salt), it will allow our best pitching prospects to face better talent, AAA-type talent.
Hopefully this news becomes official. If so, get ready to renew your passport. We’ve got some driving to do!