One week of the 2014 MLB season is in the books, and the Jays are off to a middling start. They have looked at turns fantastic and at turns terrible, but in reality a 3-4 record is pretty good, when the you consider the schedule.
The week started with a four game set in Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field AKA Toronto’s House of Horrors. Considering that the Jays hadn’t won a series there since 2007 and then lost Jose Reyes one at-bat into the season, a split has to be considered a job-well-done.
Then to return home and play the revamped Yankees, facing Tanaka and Sabathia? Losing two of three is nothing to be disappointed about.
Could they have been better? Sure. But things also could have been much, much worse.
Here are three things from week 1:
Week 1: March 31 – April 6
Record: 3 – 4
1. The Melk Man Returns
2013 was a miserable season for Melky Cabrera, so bad that there was some question as to whether he would still be a Blue Jay. But 2014 is a brand new year, and offseason surgery to remove a tumor from his back seems to have done a world of wonders for the left fielder.
Through seven games, Cabrera has already matched his 2013 HR output with three, after homering in each game against the Yankees. He has recorded a hit in all seven games, and has a slash line of .323 / .323 / .613 / .935. His 19 total bases lead the American League. Even better, he actually looks capable in the OF, after barely being able to move last season.
It’s very early, but Melky’s comeback is already one of the best stories of the season.
2. Up and Down Rotation
It’s no secret – the Blue Jays will only go as far as their pitching will take them. Through seven games, it looks like it might take them on a rollercoaster ride this season.
Toronto is 3-4 so far, both in wins / losses and in gems / clunkers. Hutchison and Buehrle (against the Rays) and Dickey (against the Yankees) all threw absolute gems last week, but sadly Dickey and Morrow (against the Rays) and McGowan and Hutchison (against the Yankees) were responsible for real clunkers. The numbers speak for themselves. In Toronto’s three wins, the starters have averaged just under 7 IP per start, and posted an ERA of 0.00, a WHIP of 0.82, and a K/BB ratio of 4.20 (21 strikeouts to 5 walks). However, in the four losses they have been awful: 4 IP / Start, 11.25 ERA, 2.31 WHIP, 1.55 K/BB (17 strikeouts to 11 walks).
No team’s bullpen can afford to have that many bad starts in such a short period of time, for risk of wearing them out very early. The starters have to be better.
3. Where Are The Runs?
Starting pitching was considered a weakness heading into 2014, and the ups-and-downs of the rotation can’t be seen as a surprise. The offence, however, is another story.
Even without Jose Reyes, one would expect a lineup with Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Colby Rasmus, Dioner Navarro, Brett Lawrie, and Adam Lind to score some runs. But the Jays have only managed to score 22 times thus far. Their 3.14 runs/game makes them the lowest scoring team in the entire American League. They only have 50 hits, a .216 average, and a paltry .277 OBP – second lowest in the AL.
With 8 HR, Toronto trails only the Astros in team power, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing, as already the team is starting to resemble last season’s squad who was ripping for the fences each and every AB. The Blue Jays need to start getting on base, or the runs per game total will be staying low for a while.