Every Monday during the 2015 season, 500 Level Fan will take a look back at the week that was, giving readers a snapshot of all things Blue Jays, including three top stories and the Blue Jay player of the week.
This is what happened in week 3.
Week 3: April 20 – April 26
Record: 3 – 3
Season-to-date: 9 – 10
AL East: T-4th, 2 GB of New York/Tampa Bay
Wild Card: 2 GB of 2nd Wild Card (New York/Tampa Bay)
1. A Tale of Two Teams
The week began with Toronto looking like a contender. In three straight wins over the Orioles the Jays were hitting (24 runs on 32 hits and 6 HR), pitching (starters went 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 6.4 IP per start), and playing exceptional defense. The team played with emotion, came through in the clutch, and looked like they were about to go on a big roll. They headed to Tampa Bay on Thursday night in a tie for first place in the AL East. But then came the Tampa series, a series in which the Jays emerged looking like a pretender. They couldn’t hit (6 runs on 17 hits and 3 HR), couldn’t pitch (starters went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, and 5.7 IP per start, and the bullpen imploded), and they looked lost in the field. The team looked flat, collapsed when it mattered most, and looked like they may be in danger of hitting the skids on an extended losing streak. They left Tampa Bay in a tie for last place in the AL East. But don’t worry – Toronto doesn’t face the Rays again until June 22nd, which is a good thing. Toronto is 1-6 against Tampa so far this season, and 8-4 against everybody else.
2. Too Early to Panic
Yes the team looked beyond hopeless in Tampa Bay, but they always do. Yes the starting pitching has been inconsistent, the offense has looked shaky at times, and the manager may be relying far too heavily on young bullpen arms Osuna and Castro (who are already showing signs of cracking). But there are three reasons why it is too early to panic.
1 – The Jays have played 19 games and have yet to put their full lineup on the field. The return of Michael Saunders coincided with the injury to Jose Bautista.
2 – Despite the shaky start, the AL East appears very winnable. The Jays are only 2 GB of first.
3 – They look really good in comparison to other preseason favourites. Cleveland is 6-11, Seattle is 7-11, and Washington is 7-12 and already 7 games behind the Mets!
There’s still plenty of time to get things right, and the fact that no AL East team is off to a great start is encouraging. Stay calm.
3. In With the New, Out With the Old
The Blue Jays made history on Saturday, becoming the first major league team to have three Canadian born players in the starting lineup. Rusell Martin and Dalton Pompey were finally joined by offseason acquisition Michael Saunders, who made his Blue Jay debut. Saunders went 0-6 with a walk in two games, but was a welcome sight to Jays fans eager to see another Canadian perform at the big league level. However, on the same day that Saunders debuted, the Jays said goodbye to former ace Ricky Romero, releasing the lefty after several injury plagued minor league years. It was a sad end for Romero, who established himself as the teams ace by going 42-29 with a 3.60 ERA from 2009-2011, including an All-Star appearance and a top-10 finish in AL Cy Young voting. Things went sideways for Ricky in 2012 and other than four terrible appearances in 2013 he never set foot on a Blue Jay mound again. His release means that every member of what was once expected to be Toronto’s core are now gone: Romero, Arencibia, Lawrie, Snider, and Lind.
Player of the Week
Drew Hutchison, SP
Josh Donaldson put together another solid week (.375, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB), but the nod this week goes to Hutch. In his lone start he completely shut down Baltimore, taking a perfect game into the 6th and finishing with 8 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, and 7 K.
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 12 – 5, 1st place
AA – New Hampshire: 9 – 9, 5th place
A+ – Dunedin: 9 – 9, T-3rd
A – Lansing: 12 – 6 , 1st place
The Look Ahead
The road trip continues with a full seven game slate.
April 27-29 at Boston
April 30 – May 3 at Cleveland