Every Monday during the 2016 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 1.
Week 1: April 3 – 10
Record: 3 – 4
Season-to-date: 3 – 4
AL East: 4th, 3 games behind Baltimore
Wild Card: 1.5 games behind Chicago
- Firing On Less Than All Cylinders
The 2016 season is underway and things didn’t quite get off to the start that the Blue Jays were hoping for. And for a team that was supposed to slug its way back to the playoffs, it was the offense that was mostly to blame for the rough start. The Jays managed to score 29 runs in 7 games, but the underlying numbers do not look good. Toronto left 44 runners on base, went a meager 12-for-54 with runners in scoring position (.222 average), struck out 71 times (10.1 per game), and scored 62% of their runs via the long ball. For context, last season the Blue Jays hit .286 with runners in scoring position and struck out only 7.1 times per game. Individually, Tulowitzki, Colabello, and Martin are all off to ice cold starts. Obviously it is an incredibly small sample size and there is nothing to worry about. In fact, fans should be encouraged. The team still managed to win three games with numbers that poor. Imagine what will happen when the bats wake up!
- Rotation Thriving
While the offense is off to a tough start, the same can’t be said for the starting rotation. Stroman, Dickey, Sanchez, Happ, and Estrada had a very positive first week, pitching deep into games and giving the team a chance to win. On the surface the numbers might not look great (4.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) but they are inflated by one rough start each for Stroman and Dickey. But even in those games, there were encouraging signs. At Friday’s home opener, Stroman was electric in the first few innings but was undone by a bad fifth. On Saturday, Dickey probably had the best knuckleball of his Blue Jays tenure, evidenced both by the 9 K’s he recorded, and the fact that Josh Thole missed several pitches badly. Even more encouraging for the team was the incredible starts turned in by Sanchez and Estrada, arguably the two biggest questions marks heading into the season. We all know Stroman will be great and Dickey and Happ will be serviceable. If Sanchez and Estrada can replicate their first week success all year, things will turn out very well for the Jays.
- Bullpen Woes
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the bullpen. Roberto Osuna was tremendous in three appearances, but everybody else? Yikes. Drew Storen looked erratic, Brett Cecil brought back memories of April 2015 with his struggles, and Arnold Leon was downright ugly. All-in the ‘pen combined for a 5.92 ERA in 13.2 IP, and was tagged for three losses. More troubling is the fact that they coughed up a lead in the 8th inning in back-to-back games, especially since the back-end of the bullpen was supposed to be a strength. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Toronto’s non-Osuna relievers struck out 17 batters and walked only 4, showing their ability to miss bats. Once the offseason rust is shaken off, expect a recovery and a return to form (well, maybe not for Leon….).
Player of the Week
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Despite a calf strain Donaldson picked up right where he left off last season: 9-for-29, 2 BB, 8 R, 9 RBI, 1 2B, 4 HR, .310 / .355 / .759 / 1.113
Kevin Pillar Walk Counter
A new feature that will track how many times new leadoff hitter Kevin Pillar walks in 2016
Last week: 0
Year to Date: 0
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 3 – 3, 3rd place, 1 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 2 – 2, 5th place, 1 GB
A+ – Dunedin: 3 – 3, T-2nd place, 2 GB
A – Lansing: 2 – 1, T-2nd place, 0.5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: season not started
The Look Ahead
Nothing but the AL East again…
April 12-14 vs. New York
April 15-18 at Boston