The calendar has officially turned to September, and sadly, like so many years before, there will be no meaningful September baseball played in Toronto.
But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any good baseball played here. There is plenty still on the table as the Jays roll into September, with youngsters trying to prove they belong, and veterans trying to prove that they should be brought back next year.
If last week is any indication, there are a lot of players who still care down the stretch, as the Jays mustered a winning record in a week for what seems like the first time in ages. Even better – they finally beat the Yankees in a 3-game series for the first time in 2013.
Here are three things from week 22:
Week 22: August 26 – September 1
Record: 4 – 2
1. Goins On Fire
Ryan Goins made his major league debut on August 23 and went 2 for 4. Since his debut, he has played 2B each and every game, and it wasn’t until Sunday when he was finally held hitless, going 0 for 4 against James Shields and the Royals. The 8-game hitting streak to start a career tied him with Jesse Barfield for the longest in franchise history.
Even after his 0-fer on Sunday, Goins’ numbers are impressive. He is hitting .353 with a .783 OPS, and though he has only managed a single walk, he has scored 8 runs. Yes the sample size is extremely small, but in his short stint as the starting second baseman,
he is providing the club with something that Bonifacio or Izturis never did – consistency.
To make a bigger case for the youngster, look no further than his performance defensively. Jays fans are likely still having nightmares about Bonifacio botching easy double play balls, and throwing balls wide of first. But Goins has been great at second. In fact, according to baseball reference, his total zone fielding runs above average rating is +2 in only 10 games. For context, Bonifacio was -3 and Izturis -12.
Even if the bat cools off, the glove may keep him in the big leagues.
2. Shutout By Shields
In baseball, there are certain pitchers who just seem to dominate certain teams, game in and game out. No matter how hot or cold the team or the pitcher, the result is always the same.
For Toronto, those pitchers all seem to have ties to the Rays. David Price and Matt Moore seemingly overpower the Blue Jays every time they start against them. The same goes for James Shields, which is why it should come as no surprise that the Royals righty blanked the Jays on Sunday.
After tossing 7 scoreless innings, and surrendering only 3 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 9, Shields’ career numbers against Toronto are insane. He is now 12-6, with a 3.09 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 138 K in 163.1 IP. He has held Toronto hitters to a .668 OPS and a miniscule .218 batting average. His 12 wins against Toronto are more wins than he has registered against any other team.
His start on Sunday was the second this year against the Jays. He actually lost the first game 3-0, despite throwing a complete game. His numbers in 2013 against Toronto? Pretty good: 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 15 K.
It’s a good thing he is no longer in the AL East.
3. All Quiet At The Deadline
The waiver trade deadline came and went on Saturday, and though there were a few deals made (Morneau to the Pirates, Young to the Dodgers among others), the Jays stood pat. So other than offloading Emilio Bonifacio to KC, Alex Anthopoulos did nothing at either the July 31 or August 31 deadlines.
Is this a good thing? That depends on your view of the team. Those who believe the team needs to be fully reloaded will be disappointed that nobody was moved. Those who believe this was just a bad year and that the players should be given another shot next year will be pleased. I am in the latter camp, though there are a few guys that should have been traded in my opinion – namely Mark DeRosa and Darren Oliver.
DeRosa has been a good influence on Brett Lawrie, calming him and showing him how to play within himself. The results were that Lawrie won the Blue Jays Player of the Month for August. But his veteran presence and pinch-hitting ability might have been better off utilized by a contender down the stretch. The same for Oliver, who is retiring after this season anyways. A playoff team can always use a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
AA likely couldn’t have received much in return, but even something is better than nothing.