Category Archives: Weekly Things

Week 15 In Review: The Legend Returns

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 15.

  1. The Legend Returns

For 10 seasons, for over 1,200 games, and for over 5,200 plate appearances, Jose Bautista was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.  He was one of Toronto’s most loved athletes, and was responsible for some of the club’s most iconic moments.  When the Blue Jays said goodbye to Jose at the end of the 2017 season most of us thought we’d seen the last of him.  But this past week the legend returned to Toronto as a visiting player for the New York Mets.  He was greeted with an emotional tribute video and a raucous ovation from the crowd.  While Bautista will never regain his position as one of the most feared sluggers in the game, his performance with the Mets proves that he still has some gas left in the tank.  He went 2-for-7 with 3 walks in his two games back in his old stomping grounds and has posted an above-average .880 OPS in New York.  Long live the King.

  1. Borucki Dominates

Ranked by MLB.com as Toronto’s 8th best prospect, LHP Ryan Borucki made his major league debut on June 26 in Houston before  coming home for two starts in the Rogers Centre last week.  With the Blue Jays in the midst of a lost season and with a huge selloff on the horizon, Borucki’s performance is offering Jays fans something we sorely need: hope for the future.  On Monday against the Tigers Borucki was terrific, allowing only 2 ER on 6 hits over 7 innings.  He struck out 8 and didn’t walk a single hitter.  He then one-upped himself yesterday by taking on – and shutting down – the powerful New York Yankees: 5 strikeouts, 7 innings, 1 run allowed.  He now boasts a 2.25 ERA in his brief career and is making a case to be a front of the rotation starter for the rest of 2018 and beyond.

  1. Struggling All-Star

After beating the Astros on June 25th, J.A. Happ was 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA and was considered the most attractive available option on the trade market.  His name was being thrown around in rumours on a daily basis – Yankees!  Cubs! – with fans dreaming of a return of a few decent prospects.  Perhaps the pressure of pitching among trade rumours is getting to him, because Happ has struggled mightily recently.  On Saturday against the Yankees he lasted only 2.2 innings while allowing 6 runs on 4 hits and a staggering 6 walks.  He has allowed 13 runs in only 8.1 innings over his past two starts (14.04 ERA), increasing his season ERA almost a full run to 4.44.  Despite his recent struggles he was named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday night marking the first time he has earned the honour.

Player of the Week

Ryan Borucki, SP

2 Starts, 14 IP, 3 ER, 13 K, 2 BB. 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at July 9 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

July 10 – 11 at Atlanta Braves

July 12 – 15 at Boston Red Sox

Week 13 In Review: Kendrys Comes Through

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 13.

  1. Kendrys Comes Through

Through the middle of May Kendrys Morales was having a nightmarish season.  Already unfairly vilified by Jays fans for not being Edwin Encarnacion, Morales wasn’t doing himself any favours by carrying a .146 average and .499 OPS.  But Toronto’s DH kept plugging away and was finally rewarded with a signature moment yesterday.  Summoned off the bench in the top of the 10th, Morales hit Toronto’s first pinch-hit home run of the season, propelling the Jays to a 7-6 win and a series split in Anaheim.  The HR wrapped up a great week for Morales, and keeps him on what has been a fairly sustained hot streak.  Since that low point on May 17, Morales is hitting .347 with a .978 OPS, 5 HR, and 14 RBI in 29 games, and his season average is now up to .246 with a .735 OPS.  Better late than never….

  1. The Stro Show Returns

Morales wasn’t the only member of the Jays who got off to a horrific start.  Marcus Stroman came into the 2018 season with high expectations only to scuffle badly in the early going.  At the end of April Stro’s ERA was 8.88, easily the worst in baseball among starting pitchers, before he was shuffled to the DL in mid-May with shoulder irritation.  Well, Stroman made his anticipated return on Saturday and the results were very encouraging: 5 shutout innings with only 1 walk and 5 strikeouts.  He kept the Angels off balance all night long with electric stuff, finally resembling the pitcher we all expected.  At a time when the Jays rotation is seemingly changing by the day (Sanchez to the DL!  Garcia to the DL!) a healthy and effective Stroman is a very welcome sight.

  1. 75 Games

While no official legal punishment has been handed out, Major League Baseball finally commented on the Roberto Osuna situation last week, handing the Jays closer a whopping 75-game suspension for violating the league’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy.  Osuna is ineligible to return until August 4th, but it remains to be seen whether he will ever return to the Toronto lineup.  Speculation exists (from Jeff Blair among others) that the Jays will be actively looking to trade Osuna before the July 31 deadline, with the hopes that a contending team may be willing to accept the public repercussions in order to acquire a solid relief option.  Hopefully the price tag will be decently high to accelerate the rebuild.

Player of the Week

Kendrys Morales, DH

7-for-14, 4 BB, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 R, 4 RBI, .500 / .611 /  1.214 / 1.825

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at June 24 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

June 25 – 27 at Houston Astros

June 29 – July 2 vs. Detroit Tigers

Week 12 In Review: Sweep!

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 12.

  1. Sweep!

What a weekend in Toronto!  The Jays celebrated Father’s Day in style with a riveting 8-6 victory over Washington to cap off a series sweep of the Nationals.  The Nats came to Toronto just a half game back of first in the NL East, with Bryce Harper sitting in the top-5 of baseball in HR, and with dominant ace Max Scherzer scheduled to pitch the Saturday game, so anybody who predicted a Blue Jay sweep is most definitely a liar.  But behind great pitching and timely hitting, sweep is what they did, easily one of the most unexpected results of the season.  Toronto has now won seven straight games at home, and while they’re still miles behind a playoff spot, at least they are sending fans home happy.

  1. Sweep 🙁

It’s only worth talking about because of how ridiculous it is.  Once again the Toronto Blue Jays paid a visit to Tampa Bay to face the Rays, and once again they were thoroughly pounded.  The Jays scored a mere 5 runs and were swept in three straight games.  Worse was the fact that the Rays shut the Jays down without using a true starting pitcher, instead using a parade of relievers in all three games.  Just in case you needed a reminder: the Jays can’t win in Tampa Bay.  The sweep dropped their record in TB to 1-5 in 2018 and a woeful 73-109 in franchise history.

  1. June Resurgence

After an absolutely miserable 9-19 month of May, the Blue Jays have actually been playing fairly well in June, with a record of 8-7.  The driving force behind the strong month can be traced back to three players who were putting up some of the worst numbers in baseball early in the season but who have turned things around in a big way.  Randal Grichuk entered June with a .106 / .208 / .227 / .435 slash line, and Devon Travis‘ .188 / .242 / .329 / .571 wasn’t much better.  But both are resembling the players that Toronto thought they were this month.  Grichuk had another big week last week and his now hitting .326 with a 1.097 OPS , 5 HR, and 13 RBI in June.  Travis, who hit a huge HR off Scherzer on Saturday, is up to .351 for the month with a .941 OPS.  Not to be forgotten is Marco Estrada, who finished May with a 5.98 ERA, but has allowed only 3 ER in 18.2 June innings while striking out 19 hitters and allowing only 3 walks.  Now if only these guys could rub off on Russell Martin.

Player of the Week

Devon Travis, 2B

8-for-16, 1 BB, 1 2B. 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, .500 / .500 /  .938 / 1.438

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at June 17 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

June 19 – 20 vs. Atlanta Braves

June 21 – 24 at Los Angeles Angels

Week 11 in Review: Winning is Fun!

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 11.

  1. Winning is Fun!

So that’s what winning feels like!  After losing twice to the Yankees early in the week – losses that dropped them to 1-7 in the last 8 and 9-23 since May 2 – the Jays rebounded in a big way by sweeping four straight from the woeful Baltimore Orioles.   The sweep included a bit of everything: two walkoffs (including one on a walkoff walk), ninth inning dramatics, solid pitching, and an offensive eruption.  Yesterday’s 13-3 blowout was the first time Toronto had reached double digits in runs since May 16th in New York against the Mets, and was only the second time since May 26th they managed to score more than 5.  The Jays are now 6-1 against Baltimore this year, and it’s a shame they couldn’t face the O’s instead of the Yankees and Red Sox.  Toronto is a pitiful 5-14 against the AL East leaders and a solid 25-21 against the rest of baseball.

  1. Is This the Real Grichuk?

When Toronto acquired Randal Grichuk in the offseason it generated some genuine excitement in the fan base.  The consensus was that although Grichuk would never have a great OBP, he might be able to put up 30 HR playing at the Rogers Centre.  But after the first month of the season those predictions were wildly inaccurate.  In the 25 games he played before being placed on the DL he was hitting .106 with a .435 OPS, 2 HR, and 24 strikeouts – nearly a third of his plate appearances.  He was activated on June 1 and after going 0-for-5 in his first two games Grichuk finally resembles the player the Blue Jays thought they were getting.  In his last 6 games he has posted a .435 average and 1.437 OPS while slugging 3 HR, driving in 8 runs and scoring 7 times.  So which is the real Grichuk?  Hopefully the answer is somewhere closer to his recent performance.

  1. Quality Starters

After two months of poor performance, the Blue Jays rotation has finally awoken.  Marco Estrada pitched six strong innings yesterday to extend the rotation’s streak of consecutive quality starts to seven.  Estrada in particular has looked terrific his last two outings, allowing only 3 runs and 1 walk while striking out 15 batters in 12 total innings.  J.A. Happ continued his strong season with a great start on Friday, Sam Gaviglio has come out of nowhere, Aaron Sanchez is slowly turning his season around, and Jaime Garcia chipped in with a gem of his own.  In the past seven starts Toronto’s rotation has posted a 1.42 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 2.5 K/BB ratio.  The turnaround has proven that winning is much, much easier with good starting pitching.

Player of the Week

Randal Grichuk, OF

8-for-19, 1 BB, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI, .421 / .476 /  .842 / 1.318

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at June 10 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

June 11 – 13 at Tampa Bay Rays

June 15 – 17 vs. Washington Nationals

Week 10 In Review: From Bad to Worse

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 10.

  1. From Bad to Worse

The 2018 Blue Jays season has not been pretty, but it reached a whole new level of bad last week.  Toronto went into Fenway and were ripped apart by the Red Sox in a humiliating three-game sweep.  The Jays were outscored 22-10, and honestly that differential was a lot closer than the games actually were.  The starting pitching was abysmal (again) with Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, and Sam Gaviglio lasting a combined 14.2 innings and putting up a 9.20 ERA and 1.64 WHIP.  The club then marched into Detroit to face the rebuilding Tigers and were thoroughly spanked in the first two games, looking further away from contention than Detroit.  Instead of looking up in the standings fans should now look down and hope that we can continue to stay ahead of the O’s.

  1. Smoak Slugging

While the rest of the team is seemingly self-imploding, Justin Smoak continues to produce in the middle of the order.  After his breakout 2017 campaign the jury was still out as to whether his success was sustainable, but he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the real deal.  Smoak slugged two home runs last week en route to posting a 1.230 OPS, and almost single-handedly willed the Jays to their lone win yesterday in Detroit.  For the season Smoak has 9 HR and 33 RBI and leads the team with an .855 OPS.  His .386 OBP is 8th best in the American League, only a few percentage points behind All-Stars Jose Ramirez and Manny Machado.  At 31 years of age and set to hit free agency after the season does the front office try to extend him as one of the leaders of future Jays teams, or deal him for anything they can get in July?

  1. Guerrero Hurt

Blue Jays fans everywhere uttered a collective groan of horror when the news dropped on Saturday that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. left New Hampshire’s game after stepping awkwardly on first base.  With the big league club enduring a terrible season to date, one of the only things keeping fans going is looking at Vladdy’s minor league numbers and dreaming about him heading north, so you can imagine the concern.  The good news, at least according to Shi Davidi, is that the injury is not considered to be serious, but just how much it will impact any potential call-up is yet to be seen.  Guerrero is destroying AA right now, and bringing him up might be the only thing to save the rest of the year in Toronto.

Player of the Week

Justin Smoak, 1B

7-for-20, 5 BB, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, .350 / .480 /  .750 / 1.230

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at June 3 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

June 5 – 6 vs. New York Yankees

June 7 – 10 vs. Baltimore Orioles

Week 9 In Review: Happ For Life!

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Every Monday during the 2018 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.

  1. Happ For Life!

Thank goodness for J.A. Happ.  In a season where everything had to go right for the Jays to become serious contenders, virtually everything has gone wrong except for the performance of Happ.  For a guy that was never in the conversation of Blue Jays ace (all the talk was always Stroman or Sanchez; Sanchez or Stroman) his 2018 season has been fantastic.  Last week saw the big lefty make two starts and earn two wins, striking out close to a batter per inning, and limit the high powered Angels and Phillies to a grand total of four earned runs.  For the season Happ now has a 7-3 record, 3.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and a 10.8 K/9 ratio.  Toronto’s SP have combined for 15 wins total, meaning Happ is responsible for almost half.  It’s hard to imagine where the Jays would be without him, yet that might be exactly what happens as Happ is making himself mighty attractive as a potential trade deadline acquisition.

  1. Sam Who?

When the Blue Jays called up Sam Gaviglio in early May the news got lost amid a flurry of roster moves.  Perhaps more attention should have been paid.  The 28-year old has certainly impressed in his brief tenure in Toronto, providing the Jays something they have been sorely lacking – stability in the rotation.  After making two relief appearances against Boston, Gaviglio made his first start May 19 vs. Oakland before pitching in Philadelphia last week.  He posted a quality start against the Phillies, going 6 innings with 6 strikeouts and 3 runs allowed.  He also added a double for good measure.  With Stroman still hurt and the Biagini-as-starter experiment seemingly coming to an end, we might be seeing much more of Gaviglio as the season wears on.

  1. Versatile Russ

Russell Martin is having a miserable season at the plate.  As we approach the end of May he is hitting a mere .165 with a .616 OPS, a far cry from what fans are used to.  But he is making a name for himself in the field.  With the Jays decimated by injuries, they have found a valuable utility infielder in the most unlikeliest of places.  Martin has made four appearances at 3B thus far in 2018 and last Saturday made his first career start at SS, registering a putout and an assist in his two chances.  Now comes news that he will be making his first career start as a LF in Fenway Park of all places.  One wonders if an “around-the-horn” afternoon is on the horizon.

Player of the Week

J.A. Happ, SP

2 Starts, 2-0, 13.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 5 BB, 13 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at May 27 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

May 28 – 30 at Boston Red Sox

June 1 – 3 at Detroit Tigers

Week 8 In Review: Wheels Are Coming Off

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Every Monday during the 2018 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.

  1. Wheels Are Coming Off

That was ugly.  After such a promising start to the season, the Jays have fallen on hard times recently, culminating in an ugly, depressing, and terrible week.  Toronto went 1-5 last week, dipping below the .500 mark and throwing away any good faith and hope that had accumulated in the season’s first month-and-a-half.  It wasn’t the fact that the Jays lost five-of-six that made the week so bad; it was how they lost.  They were obliterated by the Mets once and the A’s twice.  They were completely shut down by a cast of five Oakland relievers on Friday.  And they blew a 4-0 lead in the 8th inning on Saturday in one of the most demoralizing losses of the year to date.  It was awfully tough to find anything that went well.  The starting pitching was bad, the bullpen was terrible, and the offense (aside from one game in New York) was non-existent.  In one week the Jays went from playoff hopefuls to a team whose season appears to be slipping away.

  1. Have a Day J.A.!

If there was one silver lining to last week’s disaster it’s that J.A. Happ continues to shine.  The lefty was responsible for Toronto’s lone win last week, pitching a gem against the Mets in New York.  Happ went 7 innings, allowed only two hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 10.  He also went 2-for-3 at the plate and drew a walk, giving him an outrageous 1.417 OPS!  By Game Score, it was Happ’s best performance of the season, and was especially good to see after he was roughed up in his previous start.  His ERA now sits at 4.15 and he is (sadly) the lone Jays starter that is currently inspiring any confidence.

  1. 0.00 ERA

He’s hitting .163 with a .527 OPS and a -0.8 WAR.  But no matter what ends up happening to Kendrys Morales, nobody can ever take away his 0.00 ERA.

Player of the Week

J.A. Happ, SP

1 Start, 1-0, 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.29 WHIP

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at May 20 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

May 22 – 24 vs. Los Angeles Angels

May 25 – 27 at Philadelphia Phillies

Week 7 In Review: Maile the Magnificent

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 7.

  1. Maile the Magnificent

19 hits.  2 home runs.  7 RBI.  .407 OPS.  130 at bats.  Those were the numbers posted by Luke Maile in 2017, stats that made Maile the American League’s worst hitter by a fairly significant margin.  But what a difference a winter makes.  Maile has turned into a hitting machine this season, making the most of the opportunities he’s been given.  He continued his hot start with a monster game last week against Chris Sale and the Red Sox, going 3-for-4 with a game-tying HR in the 7th followed by a walk-off 2-run bomb in the 12th.  He has now appeared in 18 games and has already smashed his 2017 totals with 2 HR, 14 RBI, 20 hits, and a .902 OPS.  That OPS ranks as the 19th best in the entire American League for players with at least 50 plate appearances.  Now if only he can pass on his hitting magic to one of Toronto’s many slumping hitters….

  1. How Low Can We Go?

It has been repeated constantly, but let’s say it again: starting pitching was supposed to be the strength of this team.  Unless a market correction is coming soon, the next question to ask is how bad can the rotation possibly get?  Hopefully not much lower than last week.  In the six games against Seattle and Boston, Jays starters were pitiful.  They combined for an ERA of 7.14, a WHIP of 1.86, walked 16 batters, surrendered 6 HR, and lasted less than 5 innings per start on average.  Worse is that the rotation allowed runs in the first inning of four of the six games (a total of 8 runs), meaning the offense was behind before even coming to the plate.  Now with Marcus Stroman on the DL it means the return of Joe Biagini as starter, a role that in which he has struggled immensely.  The saving grace has been the performance of the bullpen, but with Roberto Osuna gone indefinitely (possibly forever), it’s only a matter of time until that is stretched thin.  Things are……not good.

  1. Is Kendrys Cooked?

Kendrys Morales never stood a chance in Toronto.  Fans viewed him as the front office’s cheap replacement for Edwin Encarnacion, a person he never could have hoped to replace.  Even if he clubbed 40 HR each year of his contract, it still wouldn’t be enough.  Now that he is performing like one of the worst hitters in all of baseball?  Oh boy.  Morales seems to be stuck in a funk that he can’t get out of, seemingly looking worse with each passing at-bat.  He snapped a dreadful 0-for-28 slump last week but still finished the week going 2-for-12 with a huge rally crushing GIDP on Sunday.  For the season Morales is batting .154 with a .525 OPS – not at all the types of numbers any team wants to see from its DH.  It might only be a matter of time until Kendrys is handed his walking papers.

Player of the Week

Luke Maile, C

5-for-12, 1 BB. 1 3B. 2 HR, 2 R. 5 RBI, .417 / .462 / 1.083 / 1.545

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at May 13 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

May 15 – 16 at New York Mets

May 17 – 20 vs.Oakland Athletics

Week 6 In Review: House of Horrors

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 6.

  1. House of Horrors

When John Gibbons called Tampa’s Tropicana Field Toronto’s personal “house of horrors” last week, he wasn’t issuing a ground breaking statement.  In fact, he was simply confirming what Jays fans have long known: playing in Tampa Bay is terrible.  Toronto dropped 2-of-3 in Tampa over the weekend, dropping their franchise record to 73-106.  That .408 winning percentage is Toronto’s worst road mark against any team in the AL.  That’s right: even considering the 10-15 year stretch of dominant Yankee and Red Sox teams, and a decade of abject futility by the Rays, the Jays have still fared better in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park than the Trop.  In fact, Toronto has only posted a winning record in Tampa Bay four times in 20 seasons, and are now off to a 1-2 start in 2018.  The next stop in Tampa is June 11th – prepare for more nightmares.

  1. Donaldson Returns

Josh Donaldson made his welcome, if somewhat surprising, return to the lineup last week, just in time for Thursday’s doubleheader in Cleveland.  It was expected that Donaldson might spend 7-10 days on a rehab assignment but he returned after only a few games and it didn’t take him long to contribute.  Josh went 4-for-11 with two doubles, two home runs, and three RBI against the Indians, helping the Jays to a win the matinee game.  The trip to Tampa Bay didn’t go as smoothly (which is no surprise – see above), but having the perennial MVP-candidate back in the middle of the lineup is a huge boost to Toronto’s playoff chances.

  1. Roster Madness

Thanks to some terrible weather that pummeled much of the US and Canada in mid-April, the Blue Jays were forced to play 21 games in the past 20 days, a stretch that included two doubleheaders and just a single off day.  Add to that injuries suffered by Randal Grichuk and Steve Pearce, and you have a staggering number of roster moves made by Ross Atkins.  The Jays GM made 24 (!) moves last week alone, making full use of the disabled list (for Pearce and Grichuk), the paternity list (Justin Smoak), the doubleheader 26th man rule (Josh Donaldson), and Buffalo (Anthony Alford, Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith Jr., Luis Santos, Tim Mayza, Joe Biagini, Carlos Ramirez, Jake Petricka, Gift Ngoepe, and Richard Urena).  The turnover was so constant that moves were sometimes made within games.  Forget about trying to figure out who’s in the starting lineup; fans now get to guess who’s even on the big league club!  With all makeup games out of the way, hopefully things settle back down to a normal pace.  Then again, with Diaz injuring his ankle yesterday, perhaps more moves are on the way….

Player of the Week

Yangervis Solarte, 3B

13-for-35, 2 BB. 3 2B. 2 HR, 5 R. 8 RBI, .371 / .405 / .629 / 1.034

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at May 6 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

May 8 – 10 vs. Seattle Mariners

May 11 – 13 vs. Boston Red Sox

Week 5 In Review: Ace Happ

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Every Monday during the 2018 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 5.

  1. Ace Happ

Entering the 2018 season the Blue Jays strength was supposed to be their rotation, primarily  for the potential of having two aces: Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.  But through the first month of the season, J.A. Happ has stolen the “ace” label and might not give it back.  He was sensational in two starts last week, first dominating the Red Sox and then snapping Toronto’s four-game losing streak by completely overwhelming Texas.  Happ pitched seven innings in each start, allowed only three earned runs, and struck out a whopping 19 batters.  Perhaps most impressive is that he didn’t walk a single hitter.  He is currently tied for 1st in the AL with 4 wins, 3rd with a 12.5 K/9 ratio, 2nd with 50 strikeouts, and 3rd with a 7.14 K/BB rate.  In short, he has been awesome and has transitioned into the ace the Jays didn’t know they needed.

  1. Travis to the Minors

Devon Travis began the season as the Jays leadoff hitter, and while there were question marks surrounding him, they focused more on his inability to stay healthy, not his inability to produce.  But Travis has endured a nightmare start to the season, with his disappointing performance culminating with a demotion to the minor leagues on the weekend.  Through 18 games, Travis is hitting just .148, has only three extra base hits, and his OPS is a minuscule .458.  He is also ranked 261st out of 265 AL players with a -0.7 WAR.  Despite his struggles, Toronto still has high hopes for Travis, and his demotion was mainly due to the fact that he has options remaining and not as a punishment.  After all, this is a guy who hit .130 last April and rebounded with a .364 May.  Hopefully he can iron out his swing in Buffalo and return to the big league club with a vengeance.

  1. Trouble With Contenders

The general rule of thumb for contending teams in any sport is to beat the teams you’re supposed to beat and hold your own against the best.  For the Blue Jays, this means beating up on weak teams like Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Kansas City, and others, and playing .500 baseball against true contenders like Boston, New York, Cleveland, and the like.  Despite a minor slip-up against the Rangers this past weekend, the Jays were doing exactly what they needed to against the weak teams, going 10-5 and winning four-of-five series.  The concern lies in their play against the top teams.  The Jays lost two-of-three at home to the Red Sox last week, on the heels of dropping three-of-four in Yankee Stadium.  Including their win in Cleveland the Jays are currently 5-7 against winning teams, a .416 winning percentage that won’t be good enough moving forward.  With 49 games remaining against Boston, New York, Washington, Houston, Anaheim, and Cleveland, that percentage needs to climb closer to .500 for the Jays to truly have a chance at October.

Player of the Week

J.A. Happ, SP

2 starts, 1 – 0, 14 IP, 3 ER, 19 K, 0 BB, 1.93 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 12.2 K/9

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

Reminder: Better Days Are Ahead

Your weekly reminder that both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are Jays

Stats as at April 29 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

April 30 – May 2 at Minnesota Twins

May 3 – doubleheader at Cleveland Indians (makeup games)

May 4 – 6 at Tampa Bay Rays