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 17.
Week 17: July 25 – July 31
Record: 4 – 2
Season-to-date: 59 – 46
AL East: 2nd, 0.5 games behind Baltimore
Wild Card: 1 ahead of Boston (WC1) 2 ahead of Detroit (WC2)
- First Place!
The most recent edition of the “biggest series of the year” took place last week when the first place Baltimore Orioles came to town. With Toronto sitting a mere 1.5 games back, first place was up for grabs. And for the first time since April 5, the Jays moved atop the AL East after back-to-back wins on Friday and Saturday. Toronto jumped out early on Friday and held on for a 6-5 win, before thumping Baltimore into submission on Saturday. Russell Martin and Kevin Pillar delivered key hits while J.A. Happ continues to dominate in 2016. He held the Orioles to 1 run on 3 hits over 7 innings while striking out 11, improving his record to a crazy 14-3. Unfortunately their time on top of the division was brief because of…..
- ….More Bullpen Woes
First some clarification: the Blue Jays bullpen has been very good of late. Osuna, Grilli, and Biagini are consistently excellent day in and day out. Bo Schultz has looked good in the 12 innings he has
pitched. Brett Cecil has not allowed a run in five straight appearances. But a major league bullpen is typically comprised of seven relievers, and I only listed five names above. The final two spots in Toronto’s pen have been a revolving door of ineptitude this year. Aaron Loup, Pat Venditte, Ryan Tepera, and Chad Girodo have been either mediocre or bad. Joaquin Benoit has looked decent in his first few innings, but Jesse Chavez and Franklin Morales have not. The two combined to give Baltimore the win (and first place) on Sunday by allowing four runs in the 12th
inning. Chavez allowed his 9th HR of the season, a three run shot to Adam Jones, after Morales bungled his way through the beginning of the inning. Thus far, the Atkins and Shapiro era has shown fans a willingness to move on from players and not hang on to them due to contract or track record (see Storen, Drew). Is it only a matter of time before we can say so long to Chavez and Morales?
- Health Concerns
That the Jays are only a half game out of first has to be seen as somewhat of a miracle considering the health issues that have seemingly plagued this team all year. It started way back in the spring with Edwin Encarnacion and has continued on to this past weekend. Bautista was lost for a month with turf toe; Martin went down with a sore knee; Estrada and Cecil went to the DL; Tulo and Donaldson have been battling soreness and injury; Travis missed the first few months of the year. The question of Aaron Sanchez’s arm has been hanging over the team all year long. Now, the latest injury – a chip fracture on the right thumb of Troy Tulowitzki after he was hit by a pitch on Sunday afternoon. Just when he was hitting his stride the Jays will lose Tulo anywhere from a day or two, up to two-plus weeks. For a team with very little infield depth, let’s hope Tulo is back sooner rather than later.
Player of the Week
Russell Martin, C
Finally starting to swing the bat like he normally does: 5 for 14, 7 BB, 3 2B, 5 R, 3 RBI, .357 / .591 / .571 / 1.162
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 55 – 54, 5th place, 12 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 47 – 60, 5th place, 23.5 GB
A+ – Dunedin: First Half: 33 – 36, 5th place; Second Half: 24 – 14, T-1st place
A – Lansing: First Half: 36 – 34, T-5th place; Second Half: 19 – 18, 3rd place, 5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: First Half: 16 – 22, 4th place; Second Half: 3 – 3, T-2nd place, 2 GB
The Look Ahead
Tough week ahead, with four in Houston, a place where Toronto is 2-9 in the past three seasons
August 1 – 4 at Houston
August 5 – 7 at Kansas City