Three Things From Week Nine

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If not for a great comeback and an extra innings win yesterday in San Diego, the image of Ramon Ortiz walking off the field in tears would have been a fitting ending for a bad week.

The 40-year old substitute pitcher looked to injure his pitching elbow in the third inning yesterday, and given his age and the stage of his career, it might have been his final appearance in a major league uniform. I’m sure the realization of that fact, more than any pain or discomfort, is what led to the display of emotion. If not for Adam Lind’s two run double, the rest of the team might have been leaving San Diego with tears of their own.

Through nine weeks Toronto is basically a shadow of what everybody thought they’d be. With no pitching, inconsistent offense, and a mounting injury problem, the Jays are in dead last in the AL East, with a deficit that grows larger seemingly every day.

The good news is that the team plays a short, five-game week this week, giving the bullpen and makeshift rotation some much needed rest.

The bad news? The five games are against the Giants and Rangers. Uh oh.

Here are three things from week 9:

Week 9: May 27 – June 2

Record: 3 – 4

1. Even More Pitching Problems

With the aforementioned injury to Ramon Ortiz, the Jays pitching staff took yet another hit yesterday. Though nothing has been announced at the time of this writing, it is presumed that Ortiz will hit the disabled list, and judging from his reaction as he walked off the field, he might be gone for a while.

Sadly for Jays fans, Ortiz has plenty of company on the DL. Brandon Morrow was placed on the DL last week as well, joining Sergio Santos, Josh Johnson, Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Darren Oliver, Dustin McGowan, and J.A. Happ. Johnson is set to come off the DL tomorrow to start in San Francisco, and Happ’s injury was more a fluke than anything else. But the real reason for concern is that each of the other injuries is arm related. Obviously, for pitchers, that is a massive problem.

I wrote an article last week discussing Toronto’s issues over the past several seasons with starting pitching, specifically pointing out the lack of a 200-inning horse since the departure of Halladay. On top of that, I can’t remember ever seeing so many arm related injuries to pitchers, indicating that there may be developmental concerns in-house. Whatever the problem, the organization had better figure out a way to fix it soon, because the team is being left in the dust in the American League.

2. A Tale Of Two Batters

Jose Bautista entered last week as one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball, and proceeded to destroy the Atlanta Braves for two games, torching them for 3 hits, 5 runs, and 1 HR. After Toronto’s 10-1 loss to Boston on May 1, Bautista was hitting .195 with an .831 OPS, and after Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to Atlanta those numbers had skyrocketed to a .299 average and .995 OPS.

But after that, he stalled badly – and I mean badly. Bautista went 1 for 8 in two games in Atlanta followed by a dismal 1 for 18 in San Diego, highlighted by an 0 for 7 in the 17 inning loss on Friday. Those five games were deadly for his season totals: his batting average dropped 31 points and his OPS

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plummeted by 99 points – all in five games! Nobody will be happier to get out of Petco Park than Jose.

At the same time, the much beleaguered Adam Lind will be sad to see the team leave San Diego. Lind has been on an absolute tear, and he ripped apart Padre pitching to the tune of a .471 average and 1.235 OPS, connecting for 8 hits, including 1 HR, 2 2B, and 3 RBI. Against all odds, Lind is now hitting .323 on the season, with a .937 OPS. Due to his early season platooning against left-handed pitching, he doesn’t have enough at bats to qualify for the batting race. But for players with a minimum of 125 plate appearances, his .323 average would rank him 10th in the AL and his .937 OPS is 4th. Incredible.

3. Ricky Romero Outrighted

Is this the end? To help deal with a plethora of injuries the Blue Jays outrighted Ricky Romero, meaning he is no longer a member of the 40-man roster. Any team in the major leagues could have claimed the lefty, but none did.

Through five starts at AAA Buffalo, Romero has been downright awful. He has thrown 19 innings and allowed 25 earned runs, 31 hits, and 20 walks. Put it all together and he has an ERA of 11.84 and a WHIP of 2.68. Without a doubt, that won’t get it done – in any league, at any level.

So what next? Judging by his minor league stats, I think Ricky might be best off back in single-A Dunedin. It’s a very small sample size, but earlier this season he made one start in Dunedin, allowing only one run, six hits, and most importantly zero walks. The competition is easier and the pressure is much less. It’s an environment that may allow Romero to tinker with his mechanics and hopefully rediscover the form that made him an All-Star. Don’t forget that a trip to the lowest level of the minor leagues worked wonders for Roy Halladay back in 2001.

The last couple of seasons have seen prominent Blue Jays outrighted off the 40-man. Both Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind suffered the same fate as Romero, and both have rebounded. With Ricky, hopefully the third time’s a charm.

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