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 18.
Week 18: August 1 – August 7
Record: 4 – 3
Season-to-date: 63 – 49
AL East: 2nd, 1 games behind Baltimore
Wild Card: 1.5 ahead of Detroit (WC1) 2 ahead of Boston (WC2)
- Where’s the O?
One of the biggest surprises early on in the 2016 season was the futility of the Blue Jays offense. Baseball’s top scoring team in 2015 got out of the gates extremely slowly, scoring a mere 4 runs per game in April, and a slightly better 4.3 per game in May (down from 5.5 per game in 2015). But you can only hold down a lineup stacked with Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Tulowitzki, Martin, Saunders and co. for so long. The team plated 293 runs in 51 June and July games, and all was right with the world. Well, suddenly the runs have dried up again. In seven games last week Toronto scored a mere 17 times, an average of 2.4 a game. They only managed 48 hits and 18 walks and struck out a whopping 84 times! Seemingly only Devon Travis was able to hit the ball, accounting for nearly a quarter of the team’s offense. Though this is likely just a blip for many guys, there has to be real concern over Bautista who is hitting just .160 with a .660 OPS off the DL. His season average is down to a rock bottom .218. The fact that the team managed to go 4-3 during that stretch has to be considered a miracle.
- Six Man Rotation
The Aaron Sanchez debate came to a conclusive end last week with confirmation that the young ace would be moving to the bullpen. And then, strangely, Jays management changed course and announced that the team would be going to a six man rotation in order to keep him starting. It was a bizarre announcement for a number of reasons (mainly because six man rotations really don’t work – ever), but at least showed Jays fans that management is cognizant of what is happening within the fan base. I’m not sure how long the six starter experiment will last (probably
not long given that Sanchez will still need more rest), but it didn’t get off to a great start over the weekend. Francisco Liriano looked solid in his debut on Friday, but both Sanchez and Stroman struggled a bit with extra rest on Saturday and Sunday. Sanchez coughed up four runs on nine hits in 6 IP, while Stroman was undone by his own shoddy fielding in allowing seven hits and three runs over 5 IP. Fans should be happy that Sanchez still gets to start, but wary about it lasting much longer.
- Royal Love
I’m normally not one to complain about Toronto’s TV and radio broadcast crews. Yes Buck and Pat can get a bit wordy and annoying on the Sportsnet broadcasts, and yes Jerry has been known to voice his displeasure with certain players on the Fan 590 (see Reyes, Jose), but neither crew has really bothered me. Until this weekend. What was true in the postseason last year with the Fox Sports guys, has come home to roost with the Jays commentators: an unbridled passion for the Kansas City Royals. Buck, Pat, Jerry, and even Joe Siddall were practically falling all over themselves gushing praise on the Royals team. If you were just a casual fan listening in, you would have thought that KC was the top team in the league. The way that the crews described KC’s offense (the bunting! the speed! the ground balls!) you would have thought that KC was an offensive wrecking crew. (Note: the Royals are 53-58, second last place in the AL Central, 10 GB of Cleveland, and have scored 3.84 runs per game (27th in MLB)). I also learned that Raul Mondesi Jr., aside from being the son of a former Jay, is likely a surefire Hall of Famer, and a definite future All-Star. He was described as an incredible ballplayer, and potential superstar. (Note: Mondesi is hitting .256 with a .564 OPS, -1 DRS, and -0.1 WAR). I’m all for giving credit to the opposition, but this weekend was a bit ridiculous.
Player of the Week
Devon Travis, 2B
He looks like a superstar (not Mondesi): 11 for 31, 1 BB, 2 2B, 3 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, .355 / .375 / .710 / 1.085
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 57 – 59, 5th place, 15.5 GB
AA – New Hampshire: 52 – 61, 5th place, 23.5 GB
A+ – Dunedin: First Half: 33 – 36, 5th place; Second Half: 28 – 15, 1st place
A – Lansing: First Half: 36 – 34, T-5th place; Second Half: 21 – 22, 4th place, 7.5 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: First Half: 16 – 22, 4th place; Second Half: 4 – 6, T-3rd place, 2 GB
The Look Ahead
Back home for six.
August 8 – 10 vs. Tampa Bay
August 12 – 14 vs. Houston