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 9.
Week 9: May 30 – June 5
Record: 5 – 1
Season-to-date: 31 – 27
AL East: 3rd, 2.5 games behind Boston/Baltimore
Wild Card: 1 game behind Seattle
- AL East Domination
On the morning of Tuesday May 24, Toronto was 22-25, last place in the AL East, and faced a daunting stretch of games: 12 straight against the Yankees and Red Sox. Anything less than a .500 record could have been seen as devastating. Six wins would have been treading water, seven would have been good, and eight would have been a great result, but the Jays went out and won nine games, a stretch that has definitely turned their season around. They went 5-1 against New York and 4-2 against Boston, moving to four games over the .500 mark in the process. The Jays looked a lot like the team we all expected them to be. They started by sweeping the Yankees, holding them to a total of three runs in three games, before heading to Fenway Park and very nearly sweeping the Red Sox. They now sit 19-16 in games against the division, having played by far more intra-division games than any other team. With (presumably) easier games to come the Jays could be setup perfectly for a big run.
- Marco ACE-Strada
A few weeks ago in this column I wrote about how Marco Estrada is developing into the ace of the Toronto rotation. Now, after his performance last week, I don’t think there is any question – he IS the ace of the staff. He made two starts last week against New York and Boston and thoroughly dominated them. On Monday he pitched 8 shutout innings against the Yankees, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 6. Then yesterday he was masterful against Boston, taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning before allowing a solo HR to Chris Young. Overall, he pitched 8 innings and allowed 2 runs on only 2 hits. For the season Estrada now ranks 10th in all of baseball in WAR for pitchers (2.5), 7th in WHIP (0.978), 3rd in hits per 9 (5.304), and 2nd in batting average against (.167). He is becoming almost automatic.
- Offensive MVP?
Quick – who leads the Blue Jays in Average, Slugging, and OPS? If you guessed any of the usual suspects – Edwin, Bautista, Donaldson, Matin, Tulo – you’re wrong. The correct answer, with a .289 average, .519 slugging, and .885 OPS, is Michael Saunders. After surviving a chaotic spring in which he was almost traded to the Reds, Saunders has been thriving in 2016. Aside from the slash rate he has hit 9 HR and 14 doubles, scored 28 runs, and driven in 19. His 1.3 WAR is fourth on the team. Health will always be a major concern for Saunders, but as long as he can stay on the field there’s no reason to believe that his production will dry up. So far he is making Jays fans very happy.
Player of the Week
Marco Estrada, SP
He has become the ace: 16 IP, 2-0, 11 K : 6 BB, 5 H, 1.13 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 31 – 25, 2nd place, 0.5 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 26 – 30, 4th place, 12 GB
A+ – Dunedin: 26 – 31, 5th place, 10.5 GB
A – Lansing: 29 – 26, 5th place, 4.5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: season not started
The Look Ahead
A brief reprieve from the AL East…
June 6 – 8 at Detroit
June 9 – 12 vs. Baltimore