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 4.
Week 4: April 27 – May 3
Record: 3 – 4
Season-to-date: 12 – 14
AL East: 5th, 4.5 GB of New York
Wild Card: 1.5 GB of 2nd Wild Card (Baltimore)
1. Pitching Nightmare
Things are getting really ugly in Toronto. Coming into the season it was expected that pitching would be the Blue Jays weak spot, but I don’t think anybody expected things to be this bad. The starting rotation is in shambles. In seven games last week, Toronto starters only pitched a total of 34 innings, an average of less than 5 per start, and sported an ERA of 7.68 and a WHIP of 2.00. They surrendered 18 walks and a mind-boggling 50 (!!) hits. The bullpen wasn’t much better either, as the relievers combined with the starters to give away three games. The Jays blew a 5-4 lead in the 8th inning on Monday, a 4-1 lead on Friday, and a 6-1 lead on Sunday. The Jays starting pitchers rank dead last in the AL with a whopping 5.70 ERA, and also rank last in batting average against (.294) OPS against (.856), and walks (64). The bullpen is third worst with a 4.23 ERA and 4 blown saves. In short, the pitching has been awful. We’ll see if the recall of Chad Jenkins and Steve Delabar, and the move to put Estrada into the rotation helps. It surely can’t get any worse.
2. Youth Abandoned
Much was made of Toronto’s decision to start the season with six rookies on the roster playing prominent roles. It was a gamble, but the talent was just too high to keep the kids in the minors. But just 26 games into the season, that thinking has shifted dramatically. After rough starts, half of the rookie crop was sent down just a few days apart. Dalton Pompey was hitting just .193 with a .601 OPS when he was shipped to Buffalo. Daniel Norris, despite having the best ERA of the rotation, was demoted Thursday night. Miguel Castro was optioned on Sunday after his promising start was derailed with several terrible outings that inflated his ERA to 4.38 and his WHIP to 1.70. All three of these players are a very important part of the team’s future, so having them work out their problems and improve their confidence is probably the right move. I’m sure we’ll see them back in the majors before long.
3. He Just Keeps Going
Despite the struggles of Castro, Norris, and Pompey, not all of the Blue Jays rookies are off to poor starts. In fact, Devon Travis is off to one of the greatest starts ever. The rookie second baseman continues to pound the baseball and perform at levels not reached by a Toronto 2B since the days of Aaron Hill. In six games last week, Travis hit two more home runs, and drove in seven runs, putting up an .803 OPS – a number that actually lowered his season mark. He also hit his first career grand slam yesterday. On a team loaded with sluggers, it is Travis who is climbing the American League leaderboards. At weeks end he ranks 5th in OPS at 1.019, 4th in HR with 7, and 2nd in RBI with 23. As Buck Martinez likes to say: this kid can flat out hit.
Player of the Week
Kevin Pillar, OF
I am becoming a believer. After doubting him for so long, Kevin Pillar has changed my view of him by simply refusing to stop playing well. He put together a fantastic week, going 11 for 29 with 5 doubles and a triple, good for a .379 / .419 / .621 / 1.040 slash line. And in what is becoming another ho-hum moment, he made another highlight reel catch in Cleveland, crashing into the outfield wall.
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 15 – 9, 1st place
AA – New Hampshire: 13 – 11, 4th place
A+ – Dunedin: 11 – 13, 4th place
A – Lansing: 14 – 10 , 2nd place
The Look Ahead
Back at home with two series against bitter AL East rivals.
May 4-6 vs. New York
May 8-10 vs. Boston