Early in this 2014 season one thing is evident: the AL East is extremely tight. Toronto had a rough week, going 2-4 against AL East rivals Baltimore and Boston, by book-ending a four game losing streak with two victories. That was enough to produce a rollercoaster ride in the standings. The Jays dropped from second to third to last, and then went back up to third after winning yesterday.
With all five teams looking like they are going to be competitive this season, games within the division become that much more important – especially home games. By dropping both series at home last week, the Blue Jays shot themselves in the foot in the battle for AL East supremacy.
But good news awaits. As the calendar shifts to May, Toronto plays a host of games against non-divisional opponents. Of course, it’s only good news if they can win those games…
Here are three things from week 4:
Week 4: April 21 – April 27
Record: 2 – 4
1. Moustache Power!
The first four weeks of the season have been very frustrating for Brett Lawrie. The third baseman got off to such a terrible start that at one point early last week he ranked dead last in the entire AL in batting average.
But then he entered the world of the ‘stache. There is no denying the power of a glorious moustache. Just ask Blue Jay greats such as Cito Gaston, Jim Clancy, and Dave Stieb. And though Lawrie’s duster looks more like a crushed caterpillar than a broom it appears to be working.
The ‘stache made its debut on Tuesday against the Orioles, a game in which Lawrie crushed a huge 3-run HR to put the Jays ahead. Overall for the week, Brett finished 8 for 24 with a double, 3 HR, 4 runs, 8 RBI, a .333 average, and a 1.135 OPS. Armed with his new weapon, Lawrie increased his season average from .127 to .179 and his season OPS from .435 to .612. Obviously the numbers are still far below where they should be, but they are trending in the right direction.
The fuller the upper lip, the bigger the numbers.
2. Is This It For Morrow?
He has a lively arm, electric stuff, and all the makings of a major league ace. At least that is what we have been told about Brandon Morrow for the last several years. If he can ever put it all together he has a chance to develop into one of the premier power pitchers in all of baseball.
Sadly, I think it’s time to call a spade a spade and admit that Morrow is never going to put it all together. Now in his fifth season as a full time starter for the Blue Jays it is obvious that he will never figure it out, never harness the potential that lives in his right arm.
Morrow’s 2.2 IP / 8 BB debacle on Saturday afternoon was the icing on the cake of yet another terrible month in his tenure with the Blue Jays. His numbers have been up and down since his first season with the Jays, and aside from a few short but outstanding stretches (mainly in 2012), the only word that can be used to describe Brandon is “disappointing”.
With the AL East poised to be a tight five team dogfight all year (yes that’s right – five teams), every single game is important, and Toronto can’t afford to throw away every fifth game to the whimsy of chance. As much as it hurts to say, it might be time to send the righty down to Buffalo, so he can figure things out without hurting the Blue Jays in the process.
3. Juan the Great
He doesn’t have the batting eye of Jose Bautista, the patience of Edwin Encarnacion, or the contact ability of Jose Reyes. You’ll never mistake him for Goins or Diaz.
His name is Juan Francisco.
And he is here to do one thing, and one thing only: destroy the baseball.
On Friday, he did this.
Then on Saturday, he did this.
Saturday’s 467 foot bomb was the fifth longest in baseball this season. In total, Francisco launched 901 feet of HRs on two swings.