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 8.
Week 8: May 23 – 29
Record: 4 – 2
Season-to-date: 26 – 26
AL East: 3rd, 5 games behind Boston
Wild Card: 3.5 games behind Seattle
- A Huge Week
The Jays took three of four from the Twins to end the previous week, but they were still reeling. They were sitting two games under .500 and in dead last in the AL East, and had a very tough stretch of games ahead – 12 straight against the Yankees and Red Sox. They then promptly lost the opener to New York 6-0 and looked the worst that they have all season. But suddenly things turned around. The bats came alive on Wednesday as they Jays battered Ivan Nova in an 8-4 win. J.A. Happ continued his incredible season with a dominating performance in a 3-1 win on Thursday. Then the team got a huge performance from Donaldson on Friday, and an improbable comeback on Saturday to steal the first two from Boston. Toronto ended the week back at .500, up to third place in the division and right back in contention. Things still aren’t clicking at full throttle just yet, but slowly all is starting to look better in Blue Jay land. Late May / early June is when the season turned around in 2015, and it certainly looks like that might be happening again.
- Welcome Back Travis
After mustering a mere two hits off Nathan Eovaldi and a cast of Yankee relievers on Tuesday night, with Troy Tulowitzki placed on the 15-day DL and his natural replacement Ryan Goins hitting an MLB worst .148, the Blue Jays decided to end Devon Travis’ rehab stint a bit early. They activated the second baseman in time for Wednesday’s game in New York, and if Travis had any rust he sure didn’t show it. He went 1-for-4 with a run in his first game back, then delivered a huge RBI single off of Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning in his second game. He then went 4-for-14 with a run and two RBI against the Red Sox over the weekend, including hitting the game winning, walk-off single off Craig Kimbrel on Saturday afternoon. His season average is now .273, nearly double that of Goins. Travis likely won’t hit for a ton of power, but his contact and opposite field approach is just what the Blue Jays offense needed.
- Concern for Stroman?
Marcus Stroman was incredible in his first major league season, and was even better last year after his return from the knee injury that sidelined him for most of the regular season. In his first eight starts this season he went 4-0 with a 3.54 ERA, looking every bit the ace that he so badly wants to become. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, the wheels have come off a bit. Stroman was absolutely crushed by Tampa Bay on May 17, allowing 7 ER and 13 hits in only 5.2 IP. A strong rebound start in Minnesota followed, but he couldn’t keep it rolling on Saturday. Back at home against the Red Sox, and staked to an early 3-0 lead, Stroman fell apart. He allowed a home run, double, and a walk in the 4th, then three singles and two doubles in the fifth, before being pulled with one out in the sixth. All in, he surrendered 7 earned runs on 11 hits in only 5.1 innings. With the loss his ERA, which was 3.54 on May 11, now sits at 4.46. Is this merely a blip, a couple of bad outings mixed into an otherwise excellent season? Jays fans hope so.
Player of the Week
Roberto Osuna, RP
He is absolutely dominating: 3.2 IP, 2 Saves, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, .083 batting average against
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 27 – 25, 4th place, 3 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 24 – 26, 4th place, 9 GB
A+ – Dunedin: 23 – 30, 5th place, 10.5 GB
A – Lansing: 26 – 24, 4th place, 5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: season not started
The Look Ahead
A mirror image of last week.
May 30 – June 1 vs. New York
June 3 – 5 at Boston