Last week was a Dickensian week for the Blue Jays. Just as A Tale Of Two Cities begins with a list of contradictions – “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – the third week of the schedule was stocked full of opposites for the Jays.
It was a very good week, yet a very bad week; very rewarding yet very frustrating; a week full of good news yet a week full of bad news.
Toronto finished 3-3, and while going 3-3 on the road in some very inclement weather is great, they easily could have gone 5-1. While the team received some great injury news with Reyes, Happ, and Rasmus all returning, they also received some bad injury news with Lind hitting the DL and Janssen being shut down. And while the week saw some outstanding pitching performances, it all saw one of the worst pitched innings in franchise history.
But still – the Jays are right in the race, which is much better than last year.
Here are three things from week 3:
Week 3: April 14 – April 20
Record: 3 – 3
1. A Welcome Sight
You can forgive Blue Jays fans for feeling a bit antsy heading into this past weekend. The team was fresh off a double header sweep at the hands of Minnesota. Adam Lind was ailing and about to be placed on the DL. Casey Janssen had just suffered a setback in his rehab assignment. Maicer Izturis, who was off to a great start, hurt his knee and was likely lost for the rest of the season.
But then on Saturday afternoon, came a welcome sight: Jose Reyes back in the lineup at the top of the order. In two games over the weekend Reyes
went 3-for-10 with a double, a run scored, and two RBI, while playing solid D at short and providing an offensive spark. Melky Cabrera did an admirable job filling-in in Reyes’ absence, but shifting him down to the two-hole gives the Jays a much more potent offense.
Seeing Reyes on Saturday was a great sight for sore eyes. Now he has to stay in the lineup…
2. BBullpen ProBBlems
If you’re seeing a double B above, you’re not alone – all Blue Jays fans were seeing far too many BBs over the past week.
In truly frustrating fashion, the Blue Jays bullpen took what should have been two extra wins and simply gave them to the opposition. Yesterday afternoon, Aaron Loup took over with a 4-2 lead in the 6th and promptly walked the bases loaded before allowing a game-changing three run double to David Murphy. The inning spoiled a decent outing by Brandon Morrow and ruined Toronto’s chance for a sweep of the Indians.
But the most egregious performance, by far, was Thursday night in Minnesota, in what can only be described as The Meltdown. Asked to a protect a 5-3 lead, Delabar, Santos, and Happ combined to toss what was likely the worst inning in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. The trio simply couldn’t throw strikes, with Minnesota batters doing the following: walk, walk, sac bunt, walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, walk, wild pitch, walk, walk, single, walk, stike out, ground out. In total: 8 walks, 3 wild pitches, 1 hit, 6 runs, 1 loss.
For the week, the Jays bullpen walked 19 batters in 21.2 innings, and have now handed out 39 free passes this season – second most in the AL. It’s not all the bullpen’s fault, however, as some of the blame must be placed on Toronto’s starters. The Jays ‘pen has thrown 64.2 IP thus far, as the Blue Jay starters have routinely failed to pitch past the 5th inning. Only the Astros bullpen has thrown more. The workload has to be cut down, or else the walk total never will.
3. Who’s the Ace?
When R.A. Dickey was tabbed to be Toronto’s Opening Day starter, he was also asked to be the team’s ace. That meant pitching like a #1 starter each and every game, carrying a heavy workload, and being the most dependable arm in the rotation. Through the season’s first three weeks, that job descrption perfectly fits another one of Toronto’s arms: Mark Buehrle.
Thought to be an innings-eating starter who would provide 10 wins and a 4.00 ERA, Buehrle has been outstanding early on, turning in one of the greatest pitching starts in franchise history. His numbers are ace-like, and couldn’t be further from those belonging to Dickey:
Buehrle: 4-0, 0.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 7 IP/Start, 19 K: 5 BB, 2 ER, 0 HR
Dickey: 1-3, 6.26 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 5.75 IP/Start, 18 K: 15 BB, 16 ER, 2 HR
Earlier this season John Gibbons juggled the rotation to give Dickey the chance to start the maximum number of games. It might only be a matter of time before he does the same for Buehrle.