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 15.
Week 15: July 13 – July 19
Record: 2 – 1
Season-to-date: 47 – 47
AL East: 4th, 4.5 GB of New York
Wild Card: 4 GB of 2nd Wild Card (Houston)
1. Good Start
The second half began on Friday night, and right away the Jays were given a tough draw – having to face rival Tampa Bay at home. The pitching matchups couldn’t have fallen any worse for Toronto. Friday and Saturday saw their two most underperforming pitchers on the hill, and Sunday was a date with Chris Archer, a man who has absolutely dominated them this season. But Drew Hutchison kept up his bizarre home/road splits by allowing only two runs in six innings on Friday, and R.A. Dickey was even better on Saturday (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H), though a bullpen collapse prevented him from finally getting his fourth win of the season. Then on Sunday, Chris Archer continued to befuddle Toronto, but a Colabello two run bomb was enough as Marco Estrada outdueled Archer to give the Jays the series win. While huge, multi-game winning streaks are nice and can transform the standings in a hurry, the Blue Jays don’t necessarily need another 11-gamer to make it to October. By taking the rest of the season one series at a time, they have a chance to win the division without a huge streak. Winning each series the rest of the way will give the team 90-92 wins, which should be more than enough. With that in mind, although the sweep would have been nice, the series win is a great start to the second half.
2. Sanchez Returns in Relief
An announcement was made by GM Alex Anthopoulos on the weekend that Aaron Sanchez will return to the team as a reliever when he is activated from the DL. The decision is a little baffling and actually brings with it more questions than answers. Where will he slot in the bullpen, with Osuna looking entrenched as the closer? Who takes over the fifth starter role? Doubront? Norris? Somebody else? Does this mean that a potential trade for Papbelon or K-Rod is off the table? Does this also mean that a potential trade for a starter has become the key focus? The only thing we do know is that Sanchez dominated in relief last season, and struggled as a starter this year. In 2014 he put up a 1.09 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 33 IP, while in 2015 he had a 3.55 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. But his 5.13 FIP indicates that he was getting lucky more often than not by pitching out of jams, and the 37 walks he surrendered tells the same story. In a bullpen that has seen Aaron Loup struggle all year long (he blew another save on Saturday), and nobody but Osuna put together long stretches of dominance, Sanchez represents an immediate upgrade if – and it’s a big if – he can rediscover his 2014 form.
3. Canada Wins Gold
OK, it’s technically not a Blue Jays update, but Jeff Francis and Andrew Albers did play for the Jays this year, so Canada’s Gold Medal win still applies. In an amazing ballgame in Ajax yesterday, Canada outlasted the USA 7-6 in 10 innings to take gold in the Pan Am games, The two teams played to a tense 4-4 draw through 9, and then all hell broke loose in the 10th. Bizarre international rules that stipulate teams can start from anywhere in the batting order with runners and 1st and 2nd in extra innings saw five runs come around to score. Canada scored the winning runs on a botched pickoff play, with Pete Orr scoring the winning run. A bizarre final play in a an amazing final game. Well done Canada!
Player of the Week
Marco Estrada, SP
He continues to dominate the Rays: 8 IP, W, 5 K, 3 H, 0 BB
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 47 – 48, 3rd place
AA – New Hampshire: 48 – 43, 4th place
A+ – Dunedin: First Half (complete): 32 – 38, 5th place; Second Half: 11-13, 4th place
A – Lansing: First Half (complete): 42 – 28 , 1st place; Second Half: 10-14, 6th place
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: 12-19, 4th place
The Look Ahead
The most dreaded time of the year: the West Coast road trip…
July 21-23 at Oakland
July 24-26 at Seattle