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 2.
Week 2: April 11 – 17
Record: 3 – 3
Season-to-date: 6 – 7
AL East: 4th, 3 games behind Baltimore
Wild Card: 2 games behind Detroit
- Aaron “Ace” Sanchez
Remember in Spring Training when many were calling for Sanchez to pitch in relief because he would be more effective? Yeah, about that…. While Marcus Stroman is the unquestioned ace of the staff (and he proved it further by dominating the Yankees last week), there is very strong evidence that Sanchez is making a push to be considered a co-ace. Yes it is very early in the season and things can change in a hurry, but the numbers don’t lie. In three starts Sanchez has thrown 20 IP, allowed only 3 ER, struck out 20 while only allowing 7 walks (and some of those walks can be considered “smart” walks, such as walking David Ortiz twice). For comparison, through three starts last year he walked 12. This past week, facing two of the top teams in the AL East, Sanchez was electric. He surrendered a mere 5 hits and 2 ER against New York and Boston, keeping hitters off balance with a 98-MPH fastball and a devastating curve. The key concern the Jays have is whether he can hold up over a full season. If the answer is yes, the rest of the AL East should feel very, very afraid.
- Uneven Offense
Through two weeks of the 2016 season, one portion of the Jays lineup is hitting like the offensive juggernaut we expected. Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion have combined for a .315 / .392 / .616 / 1.008 slash line, 10 HR, 32 RBI, and 28 R. All three are hitting for power, getting on base (Bautista’s .473 OBP leads the AL), and driving in runs, exactly like they did in 2015. Unfortunately, the rest of the lineup is not performing. Actually, not performing is probably an understatement. Everybody else has combined for a .181 / .247 / .263 / .510 slash line, 4 HR, and 91 strikeouts. Martin, Colabello, Tulowitzki, and Smoak have been particularly bad, with Tulo’s .128 average leading the pack. As a result of this, Toronto is only averaging 4 runs per game, a mark that is actually below league average. If there is any comfort it’s that most of these guys have a long track record of success, so they should (hopefully) be breaking out soon. After all, it’s not all that early anymore…
- Strikeouts Galore
The Blue Jays set a record yesterday, and it’s not one they wanted. Blue Jay hitters struck out 136 times through the first 13 games of the season, a major league record. For a team that struck out the fifth fewest amount of times in the AL in 2015 this understandably a concern. And it’s not just one or two guys – it’s a concern up and down the lineup. The big 3 (Josh, Jose, Edwin) have struck out 45 times. Martin and Tulo have combined for 35 K’s in only 84 official at-bats, a whopping 42% K rate. Justin Smoak struck out four times on Saturday alone. Logic suggests that as the bats heat up (and they will) that the strikeouts will go down. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.
Player of the Week
Aaron Sanchez, SP
Just a dominating week: 1-0, 13 IP, 12 K, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
Kevin Pillar Walk Counter
A new feature that will track how many times new leadoff hitter Kevin Pillar walks in 2016
He is no longer hitting leadoff, but we’ll still track it anyways.
Last week: 0
Year to Date: 0
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 4 – 7, 6th place, 3.5 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 4 – 5, 5th place, 3 GB
A+ – Dunedin: 6 – 5, T-2nd place, 1 GB
A – Lansing: 5 – 3, 3rd place, 1.5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: season not started
The Look Ahead
Finally a non-AL East team!
April 18 at Boston
April 19-21 at Baltimore
April 22-24 vs. Oakland