After the debacle that was Week 21 (0-5 to stretch the losing streak to 7), the 22nd week of the Blue Jays season had to be better. There’s no way it could have been worse right? But when the schedule called for three games in Yankee Stadium, followed by a four game set at home with Tampa (AKA Toronto Killer), the Jays were in tough.
But call it a pleasant surprise – not only did Toronto win more than they lost, the also showed some heart and some fight, rallying to win Monday with a Colby bomb in the 9th, knocking off CC Sabathia on Wednesday, then taking the first two against the Rays. That gave the Jays their first three game winning streak since July 26-28.
True they lost the final two to Tampa (including a Sunday thumping), but Toronto ended the week only one game back of the Red Sox.
The race for last is on.
Here are three things from week 22:
Week 22: August 27 - September 2
Record: 4 – 3
1. Good Riddance
August ended with a bang – literally.
When Jeff Mathis hung on to Moises Sierra’s throw in the 9th inning on Friday night, nailing Elliot Johnson at home, it not only ended the game, it also ended the month of August. And despite Toronto winning that game (and the two before that), it is a month that Toronto will easily want to forget.
The Jays finished August with a record of 9 – 19, a winning percentage of .321. They were outscored 132 – 89, suffered through losing streaks of 6, 5, 3, and 7 games, and wound up dropping six games further back in the AL East standings, and eight games further back in the Wild Card standings.
Offensively, the team was inept. The 89 runs scored (3.18 per game), was the lowest in the entire American League. As a team, the Jays hit .219, had an OBP of .272, SLG of .344, and OPS of .616 – all the worst in the AL. On top of that, they struck out 248 times, most in the league by quite a bit. Individually, aside from team MVP Edwin Encarnacion, David Cooper, and Sierra, everybody was awful. Kelly Johnson hit .189 with a .603 OPS. Rajai Davis contributed a .594 OPS. Colby Rasmus struck out 33 times, hit .167, and had only four extra base hits. Ugly stuff.
Unfortunately, the pitching staff wasn’t much better. A team ERA of 4.41 was 10th in the AL, and 93 walks was the third highest total.
Normally, September is a time that generates excitement in cities across the majors, as pennant races heat up and the playoffs approach. However, due to one of the most miserable August’s in franchise history, September in Toronto will yet again consist of playing out the string.
2. Shut Him Down
It looked like he had finally turned a corner.
It really, really did.
Sure he lost, but on Tuesday, Ricky Romero held the Yankees to 2 ER on 5 hits, while collecting 6 strikeouts over 7 innings. In Yankee Stadium!
But it proved to not be a corner turned. Instead it was a case of one step forward, ten steps back. On Sunday Romero pitched one of the worst starts of his career against the Rays: 1 IP, 7 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 0 K. I think the time has come to shut him down for the season.
With each and every start, he is simply further eroding his confidence, and further opening himself to fan scorn. For a potential staff ace, having the fans boo him and hate him every five days is not a great option.
In his past 13 starts, Ricky is 0-12 with a 7.98 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, more walks (44) than strikeouts (41), and an .886 OPS against. To put it bluntly, he has been getting killed.
Let’s write this season off as an anomaly. Shut him down.
3. The Case for Happ
J.A. Happ started in Yankee Stadium last week and threw a bit of a clunker. He gave up four runs, four hits, and five walks in five innings, but still managed to get the win. With the win, he is now 3-1 with a 4.45 ERA in five starts as a Blue Jay.
On the surface, those don’t look like incredible numbers, but there are some good underlying numbers in there. His WHIP is 1.16. He has 30 strikeouts and only 10 walks. And he has put up those numbers while facing four of the best teams in the AL – Tampa Bay, Detroit, Texas, and New York (twice).
Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison will likely miss most of next year. With the regression shown by Henderson Alvarez, there is a chance that he may start at a lower level. That leaves a brittle Brandon Morrow and a shaken Ricky Romero. You could do a lot worse than a fairly dependable lefty at the back of the rotation.
Happ it up!