Three Things From Week Eleven

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That’s more like it!

For the first time in 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays resembled the team we all thought they’d be. Powerful hitting, solid defense, great starting pitching, and a dominant bullpen led the team to a four game sweep in Texas (the first ever in franchise history), and a 5-1 week.

Don’t look now, but the Jays are suddenly inching ever closer to contention. They have pulled to within 8.5 games of first place Boston, and 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card slot. Fans are suddenly believing again.

Next up is a tough week. The good news is that the Jays are back at home, but they will be playing Colorado and Baltimore. In March, many expected both teams to be weak in 2013 – Baltimore due to regression, and Colorado because they’ve been bad forever. But they enter this week a combined 14 games above .500, so the Jays need to be careful.

Here are three things from week 11:

Week 11: June 10 – June 16

Record: 5 – 1

1. Big Game Rogers

And by Rogers I’m not referring to the owners.

I’m talking about the man, the myth, the legend – Esmil.

Back on May 28, I tweeted this:

Esmil

I was instantly ridiculed. True I was only half serious when I wrote it (actually – maybe only a quarter serious), but I look like a genius now!

Rogers has now made three starts, and has put up outstanding numbers: 1-0 record, 1.26 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11 K and only 4 BB, in 14.1 innings pitched. In his first two starts he was great, but was limited by a pitch count as Gibbons wanted to slowly stretch him out.

Last week, however, the training wheels came off. On Thursday night, Rogers tossed 7 innings and allowed just 5 hits and 1 walk. He gave up a solo HR to Nelson Cruz in the second, then threw five scoreless innings to pick up the win. At first glance, the Rogers

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vs. Darvish pitching matchup appeared to heavily favour the Rangers, but Esmil more than held his own.

The emergence of Rogers has been huge for the Jays, who are still battling the inconsistency of Johnson and Dickey, and the health of Morrow and Happ. Having solid, consistent starting pitching is the key to winning ball games, and Rogers – along with Chien-Ming Wang – have developed into quite an unlikely pair of mound aces.

2. Colby Smash-mus

It was quite the week for Mr. Rasmus. The CF hit only .222 with four hits – but all four hits left the yard, giving him a 1.253 OPS and 7 RBI. Overall this season, Colby is hitting .251 with a .792 OPS and 13 HR.

Colby is now on pace for an impressive 31 bombs, which would be a career high. He has also come alive in June, exploding for an .883 OPS after getting off to a very, very slow start. In fact, Colby has emerged from the doldrums of the league to become one of the AL’s most productive centrefielders.

He now ranks 5th in the American League with his .792 OPS, trailing only Mike Trout, Coco Crisp, Adam Jones, and Brett Gardner. His 13 HR rank second, and his 36 RBI slot him in at third. Yes he still strikes out a lot (81 K’s are the most among AL CF by a substantial margin), but as any baseball expert will tell you, they’ll take the strikeouts if they come with power.

After being told for years by Tony La Russa that he couldn’t succeed, it’s nice to see Colby proving him wrong.

3. Bordering on the Absurd

On May 17th last season, Adam Lind was hitting .186 with a .273 OBP and .586 OPS. He was awful against lefties. He looked lost at the plate and in the field. He had no confidence, and was sent down that day to AAA Vegas, and eventually outrighted off the 40-man roster.

My what a difference a year makes.

Adam Lind is now bordering on the absurd. He has officially entered the zone. Last week Lind went 11 for 27, with 2 HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI, and 5 R, for a .407 average and a 1.111 OPS. But it wasn’t just one exceptionally hot week. In his past 14 games dating back to May 31, Lind has 9 multi-hit games, and 6 games with three or more hits. Production like that is typically reserved for the Miguel Cabrera’s, Mike Trout’s, and Carlos Gonzalez’s of the world, not the Lind’s.

The most incredible stat of all though, is his production against LHP. As we entered 2013, it was widely known that Lind would be a part time player because he couldn’t hit lefties. Look at his batting average and OPS against left-handed pitching in each of the past three seasons:

2010 – .117 AVG, .341 OPS

2011 – .243 AVG, .639 OPS

2012 – .202 AVG, .553 OPS

This season? The sample size is small (only 25 AB), but the numbers are huge: .520 AVG, 1.280 OPS. If the Jays were going to make a resurgence this year, most would have expected Bautista, Dickey, Encarnacion, or Morrow to lead it. But it’s been Adam Lind who’s saved the day.

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