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 13.
Week 13: June 29 – July 5
Record: 2 – 5
Season-to-date: 43 – 41
AL East: T-3rd, 2 GB of New York
Wild Card: 1 GB of 2nd Wild Card (Baltimore/Minnesota)
1. SP Nightmare
It has been written about, spoken about, and complained about ad nauseam so far this year, but unfortunately it has to be said again: Toronto’s starting pitching is bad. Really, really bad. Sure there have been flashes of brilliance (see Estrada, Marco), but more often than not fans are left completely underwhelmed. Last week was a perfect example. Blue Jay starters lasted a total of only 30.2 IP in seven starts, an average of 4.2 IP per start. In those innings they managed to surrender 25 earned runs, 45 hits, and 13 walks, for an ERA of 7.34 and a WHIP of 1.89. The rotation posted 5 losses and only once was able to pitch into the 7th inning. The nadir of the week came on Thursday when Matt Boyd surrendered 7 runs while failing to record an out, but the performances by Estrada on Tuesday, Hutchison on Friday, and Dickey on Saturday weren’t a whole lot better. Hutchison has been particularly disturbing as many pundits had him labeled as a potential breakout candidate this year, and the Blue Jays were going to rely on him heavily after the Stroman injury. But he has not delivered, as despite his 8-2 record he sits 45th out of 49 qualified pitchers in the AL with a 5.23 ERA and a -0.4 WAR. Toronto’s Pythagorean record (based on run differential) is 50-34, meaning they are badly underperforming. The starting pitching is the biggest reason why.
2. Big, Bad Buehrle
As mentioned above, Toronto’s starting pitchers posted five losses last week and only made it to the seventh inning once. That one start belonged to Mark Buehrle who continues to somehow evade father time and ride his 84 MPH fastball to outstanding results. Buehrle completely befuddled Boston on Canada Day, allowing only a single run on four hits while striking out seven and walking zero. But his current hot stretch goes back much, much longer. After hitting rock bottom in a May 1 start against Cleveland, Buehrle has been not only Toronto’s best, but one of the American League’s best pitchers. In 11 starts since that May game, Buehrle has gone 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and most importantly 78.1 IP. He has pitched 7 or more innings in 8 of those 11 starts, and has posted a Bill James Game Score of 50 or better in all 11 (including four straight over 60). He now sits 15th in the AL with a 1.8 WAR, and 21st with 3.64 ERA. With all the talk about the offense, Mark Buehrle is quietly becoming one of Toronto’s most valuable players.
3. Josh Donaldson, All Star
He has been the best player on the Toronto Blue Jays all season long. He ranks in the top-10 in the AL in HR (19), RBI (56), R (62), and SLG (.527). He combines that offensive talent with an amazing glove at 3B. He sits 6th in all of MLB with a 4.3 WAR. In short, Josh Donaldson has been everything the Jays wanted and more since being acquired last winter. Yesterday he was officially recognized by the league and the fans by being named a starter for the American League in next week’s All-Star game in Cincinnati. And he didn’t simply receive the most votes of any third baseman in the AL either. No, Donaldson received the most votes for any player, ever. His 14,090,188 votes set a an all-time record, eclipsing Josh Hamilton’s total from a few years back. There’s a very good chance that Josh will have company. The remainder of the rosters will be announced tonight, and it would be a shocker to not see both Jose Bautista and Russell Martin named to the AL squad. A well deserved honour.
Player of the Week
Devon Travis, 2B
Not a bad way to return from the DL: 11 for 22, 4 R, 4 RBI, 2 2B, .500 / .500 / .591 / 1.091
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 41 – 43, 3rd place
AA – New Hampshire: 40 – 40, 5th place
A+ – Dunedin: First Half (complete): 32 – 38, 5th place; Second Half: 4-6, T-4th place
A – Lansing: First Half (complete): 42 – 28 , 1st place; Second Half: 6-5, T-3rd place
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: 8-10, T-3rd place
The Look Ahead
The Jays wrap up the first half with seven more on the road.
July 6-9 at Chicago White Sox
July 10-12 at Kansas City