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 18.
Week 18: August 3 – 9
Record: 7 – 0
Season-to-date: 61 – 52
AL East: 2nd, 1.5 GB of New York
Wild Card: First (0.5 ahead of LA for WC1, 3.5 ahead of Baltimore for WC2)
- Statement Made
Well how about that! The Jays have been red hot since Alex Anthopoulos went crazy and revamped the roster, and were 8-1 in the nine games between Troy Tulowitzki’s debut and Thursday’s win over Minnesota. But still, even after that run, there were doubters. The run was fueled by unsustainable adrenaline from the trades; other than the Royals, the opposition was weak (last place Phillies and fading Twins); all the games were in Toronto; etc. I don’t think there can be any doubt left now. The Jays waltzed into Yankee Stadium, a place where they have traditionally struggled, and not only swept the first place Yankees, they steamrolled them. In three games (including a ten-inning classic on Friday), New York scored a grand total of one run, and even that was a questionable HR that needed video review. Toronto dominated NY in every aspect of the game. They slugged better, fielded better, ran better, had better starting pitching, and better relief pitching. It was a full team effort as the Jays were led by their stars (Bautista, Donaldson, Price, Tulowitzki) and their lesser players (Smoak, Goins, Hawkins, Estrada). In the end, the Jays left New York still in second place, but with the feeling that they are indeed the better team. That is how you make a statement.
- What a Debut!
David Price has been a Blue Jay for exactly two starts, and he already looks like one of the best four pitchers in the history of the franchise. Watching him stroll to the mound on Monday afternoon brought back visions of truly dominant aces from the past, guys like Dave Stieb, Roger Clemens, and Roy Halladay. Those guys left an indelible mark on both the franchise and the city, and Price has a chance to do the same. You seriously couldn’t ask for a better debut. On Monday Price completely destroyed the Twins, striking out 11 batters over 8 innings. Then on Saturday, pitching against a team that has owned him throughout his career, he squashed the Yankees, allowing only three hits in seven innings. His numbers through two starts are insane: 2-0, 0.60 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 18 K. He is scheduled for ten more starts in 2015, and if he continues to bring that kind of dominance there is a very good chance that he will be making several more starts…..in October.
- From Awful to Amazing
That can be the slogan for the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen in 2015. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that the ‘pen was terrible, one of the worst relief corps in all of baseball (and maybe even in Blue Jays history). Brett Cecil was getting rocked as the closer, and guys like Jeff Francis, Scott Copeland, Todd Redmond, Andrew Albers, Phil Coke, and Colt Hynes were getting rocked on a daily basis. In part it was because the players simply weren’t good enough, but in part it was also because there were no defined roles. The team broke camp without a traditional closer and was trying to figure who should pitch in what inning and in what situation on the fly. It didn’t work, with the bullpen posting only 6 saves and 11 losses in April and May. Fast forward to the present day, however, and things have changed. Big time. Osuna is now locked in as the closer, Aaron Sanchez as the setup man, and LaTroy Hawkins as the seventh inning guy. Cecil, free from the pressure of closing, is once again dominating. Bo Schultz has been a revelation and Liam Hendriks just keeps thriving. In the second half of the season the Jays ‘pen has been the best in baseball and in the seven games last week they were flat out scary: 17 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, for an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.47. They also struck out 14 batters while walking only 3. The superstar sluggers and dominant ace may get all the headlines, but the new, dominant bullpen will be what gets the Jays to October and beyond.
Player of the Week
David Price, SP
Dominant: 2-0, 15 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 18 K, 1 ER, 0.60 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 59 – 56, T-2nd place
AA – New Hampshire: 57 – 54, 4th place
A+ – Dunedin: First Half (complete): 32 – 38, 5th place; Second Half: 18-24, 5th place
A – Lansing: First Half (complete): 42 – 28 , 1st place; Second Half: 23-20, 3rd place
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: First Half (complete): 16-22, 4th place; Second Half: 5-6, 3rd place
The Look Ahead
Lawrie returns, but it’s three against the Yanks that has the city buzzing.
August 11-13 vs. Oakland
August 14-16 vs. New York