Category Archives: Weekly Things

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

Week 4 In Review: King Teoscar

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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 4.

  1. King Teoscar

Talk about forcing Toronto’s hand!  Teoscar Hernandez was awesome in the spring but due to a glut of outfielders and because he still had options remaining, he was forced to start the year in Buffalo.  But early injury problems and the terrible play of Grichuk provided an opening, and Teoscar hasn’t merely walked through the open door – he’s destroyed the door entirely.  In eight games Hernandez has blasted 3 HR, driven in 10, recorded 7 extra base hits, and is currently sporting a 1.138 OPS.  Sure plate discipline remains a bit of a problem as he’s struck out 9 times, but his power and solid contact rate leave him assured of a roster spot for now.  The Jays will have a real roster crunch and some tough decisions to make when Josh Donaldson returns from the DL, but for now it’s all Teoscar all the time.

  1. Incredible Barnes

With the Jays off to a nice start, the team has been garnering more attention than many expected.  Young call-ups like Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., bigger names like Donaldson, Sanchez, Stroman, and Osuna, and offseason acquisitions off to nice starts like Solarte, Diaz, and Garcia have found themselves in the media quite often.   But there is one player who is having a dynamite start and seems to have fallen under the radar: Danny Barnes.  After a very effective 2017, Barnes had relatively high expectations and entered 2018 as a key piece of the bullpen.  Through 21 games he has blown those expectations out of the water.  In 11.2 innings, Barnes has allowed only one earned run and one walk, while striking out 14.  His 4.1 scoreless innings last week lowered his season ERA to 0.77 and his season WHIP to 1.03.  He has been the rock of a very effective Blue Jays ‘pen.

  1. Rotation Woes

On paper, the Blue Jays entered 2018 with one of the AL’s best starting rotations.  With a fully healthy Sanchez, a solid #5 man in Jaime Garcia, the always effective Happ and Estrada, and Cy Young contender Marcus Stroman, Toronto was expected to contend largely on the arms of their starters.  As we approach the end of the season’s first month, that has definitely not been the case.  Blue Jay starters currently hold a combined ERA of 5.23, the 4th worst mark in the American League.   Only Sanchez has an ERA under 4.50 and Happ leads the rotation with a not-too-great 1.27 WHIP.  Control has been the key issue.  Blue Jay starters have allowed 53 walks, hit 10 batters, and surrendered 20 HR – second most in the AL in each category.  Marcus Stroman has been by the far the most concerning.  Perhaps his spring shoulder issue is to blame, but whatever the case his early returns have been poor.  He was roughed up by the Yankees on Saturday (6 ER and 4 BB in 5.1 IP), increasing his season ERA to a woeful 8.55 – the third worst mark among SP with 20 IP.  The offense and bullpen have been surprisingly great, but the Jays need the rotation to pick up if they are to remain in the hunt in the AL East.

Player of the Week

Teoscar Hernandez, OF

10-for-30, 3 HR, 7 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, .333 / .394 / .733 / 1.127

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 15 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

April 24 – 26 vs. Boston Red Sox

April 27 – 29 vs. Texas Rangers

Week 3 In Review: Late Inning Kings

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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 3.

  1. Late Inning Kings

Imagine if Rob Manfred went crazy last offseason in his eternal quest to solve baseball’s pace of play issues, and decided to shorten major league games to seven innings?  Games certainly would be shorter thus far in 2018, but the Blue Jays would likely be the worst team in the league.  Through 14 games it is quite obvious that something magical comes over this team once the game hits the 8th inning.  Last Monday Toronto scored five runs in the 9th to turn a 2-1 nailbiter into a 7-1 blowout.  On Tuesday they scored single runs in the 8th and 9th to edge the O’s 2-1.  Then on Friday they scored three times in the top of the 9th to finish off Cleveland.  For the season Toronto has now scored 26 runs in the final two frames, or 36% of their total.  With that kind of late game offense, the Jays are truly never out of any games.  Watch to the end.

  1. Dominating Sanchez

Aaron Sanchez would probably be the first to tell you that he didn’t pitch one of his best games last Tuesday in Baltimore.  He issued five walks, only struck out four batters, and only generated 10 swings and misses.  But he did manage to keep Oriole hitters off balance, induce weak contact, and came within six outs of doing something that has only been done once in Blue Jay history – throw a no-hitter.  He ultimately fell short due to a few Oriole hits in the bottom of the 8th, but the effort was very encouraging.  Through each of his three starts his innings pitched total has increased and his earned runs allowed have decreased, a perfect combination.  Jays fans everywhere would gladly accept a failed no-hit bid if it meant eight quality innings, each and every time.

  1. Down Goes Donaldson

Just as he was starting to heat up a bit, the Jays were forced to place Josh Donaldson on the 10-day DL last Wednesday with right shoulder inflammation.  It was the same issue that plagued him on Opening Day, forcing him to spend a few days as DH.  While it’s never great to lose your MVP and perennial All-Star, the timing of Donaldson’s loss couldn’t be worse.  The Jays are already missing Troy Tulowitzki, and with Devon Travis struggling mightily (.079 average, .252 OPS) they now have no choice but to use their infield depth of Diaz and Solarte as injury replacements, rather than to give Travis a break to get himself sorted out.  There’s no telling how long Josh will be out, but each day he misses puts more pressure on Travis.

Player of the Week

Aledmys Diaz, IF

4-for-15, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB, .267 / .313 / .667 / .979

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 15 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

April 16 – 18 vs. Kansas City Royals

April 19 – 22 at New York Yankees

Week 2 In Review: Keep Calm

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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 2.

  1. Keep Calm

Over the past three seasons, games involving the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays were anything but calm.  From the bat flip to the brawl to the playoff walkoff, these two clubs have evolved into bitter rivals.  Well, maybe it’s the fact that Bautista is gone, or that the weather was cold, or that it’s simply too early in the season, but this weekend’s three game set in Texas had none of the fireworks of previous seasons.  Both teams were calm, cool, and collected as the Jays took two of three to move into second in the AL East.  But perhaps the calmest person in either dugout was manager John Gibbons who watched Friday and again Sunday as his bullpen nearly blew big leads.  On Friday, staked to an 8-0 lead through six innings, Aaron Loup and Seung-hwan Oh allowed four runs in a single inning, forcing Osuna into the game.  Then on Sunday, Loup and Oh again had a rough day, allowing four hits and an inherited runner to score in only 0.2 IP.  Credit Gibbons for guiding the team to both wins, but perhaps it’s time to question whether the Jays could use a different lefty in the ‘pen.

  1. Two Sides of the Newcomers Coin

Through 10 games of the season, the Blue Jays have to be incredibly pleased with the performances of three of their key offseason acquisitions.  Aledmys Diaz has two home runs, a .783 OPS, and has played solid defense in place of the injured Tulo.  Yangervis Solarte has posted a massive 1.086 OPS, had several key hits, and is making a name for himself as the best dancer in the game.  Fifth starter Jaime Garcia is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his two starts, and has struck out 12 batters against only 4 walks.  Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Randal Grichuk, who is off to a miserable start to his Toronto tenure.  The RF is batting only .059 with a homer and a single in 34 at-bats, and he has struck out a team leading 13 times.  While the Jays managed to plate 37 runs in 6 games last week, Grichuk went 0-for-20 with 8 K’s.  It’s still very early, but Toronto was obviously hoping for a bigger return from Randal.

  1. Pleasant Backup Surprise

2017 was a nightmare year for Toronto’s backup catchers.  But instead of trying to fortify the position over the winter, the front office elected to stick with Luke Maile in the role in hopes that he is able to contribute at least a bit with the bat when called upon.  Well, so far so good.  Maile has made three starts thus far and has looked pretty good, going 4-for-12 with 4 RBI and a .968 OPS.  For context, Luke only had 19 hits in 130 AB all of last season.  Obviously it’s a small sample size, but you can’t help but be pleasantly surprised so far.

Player of the Week

Roberto Osuna, RP

3.1 IP, 3 Saves, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 K, 0 BB, 0.00 ERA, .182 BAA, 0.60 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 April 8 (AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats)

The Look Ahead

April 9 – 11 at Baltimore Orioles

April 13 – 15 at Cleveland Indians

Week 1 In Review: A Tale of Two Halves

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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 1.

  1. A Tale of Two Halves

To paraphrase Charles Dickens: it was the worst of times, it was the best of times.  The first half of Toronto’s season opening 4-game set against the Yankees was nothing but pure misery for fans.  The promise of a more versatile and dynamic offense was nowhere to be found as the Jays looked a lot like the futile squad of 2017.  In those two games the Blue Jays scored a measly 3 runs on 7 hits, only drew 4 walks compared to 24 strikeouts, and hit a putrid .125 (1-for-8) with runners in scoring position.  But the weekend brought much better fortune for Toronto hitters.  They looked more patient and more confident and it paid dividends.  On Saturday and Sunday Jays batters plated 12 runs on 21 hits, had a much more respectable 9:24 walk to strikeout ratio, and hit .278 (5-for-18) with RISP.  The offense doesn’t necessarily need to revert back to 2015 levels for the team to be successful, not with the top-4 of the rotation looking pretty good and the bullpen only allowing three runs in 13.2 IP.  But less of the Thursday/Friday performance and more Saturday/Sunday would be much appreciated moving forward.

  1. Smoak to the Rescue

Justin Smoak broke out in a huge way last season, putting up career numbers across the board and cementing himself firmly in the middle of Toronto’s lineup.  But the big question heading into 2018 was how much of Smoak’s production was sustainable and how much was an outlier.  Well, through four games Smoak looks like he is picking up right where he left off.  He went 7-for-15 in the opening series, with four extra base hits – including two HR.  He celebrated his bobblehead day on Saturday with three hits, then almost single-handedly won yesterday’s contest with a two-run shot in the 7th inning followed by a game-winning grand slam in the 8th.  The fact that both bombs came off of very stingy Yankee relievers (Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson) is an even better sign.

  1. Pillar Runs Wild

Despite Smoak’s Sunday heroics, the highlight of the week was Kevin Pillar’s straight steal of home on Saturday afternoon.  It was Toronto’s first straight steal of home since Aaron Hill did it against Andy Pettitte in 2007.  It’s obviously very early, but Pillar’s 3 SB has him tied for first in all of baseball.


Player of the Week

Justin Smoak, 1B

7-for-15,  2 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB. 2 R, 8 RBI, .467 / .529 / 1.000 / 1.529

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 from 2017 (2018 season not yet started)

The Look Ahead

April 2 – 4 vs. Chicago White Sox

April 6 – 8 at Texas Rangers

The Week That Was: Week 12

Every Monday during the 2017 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.

Week 12: June 19 – June 25

Record: 3 – 4

Season-to-date: 36 – 39

AL East: 5th,  5 games behind New York/Boston

Wild Card: 3.5 games behind Cleveland

  1. Osuna

Some things are bigger than wins and losses.  Roberto Osuna has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, seemingly single-handedly rescuing Toronto’s bullpen from early season ruin.  But his off-field actions last week might just be the most important thing he has done in his career.  By publicly speaking up about his anxiety issues he has helped open the door for other professional athletes to come clean about any potential issues they might be dealing with.  He looked great in his return to game action on Sunday, and here’s hoping he can make a full and healthy return, not only to the team, but to his life as well.

  1. Nightmare in KC

The 2015 version of the Kansas City Royals won the World Series using smoke and mirrors, and remain one of the worst championship teams ever.  Jays fans will remember the Royals beating Toronto in the ALCS with a combination of lazy pop-ups that found holes, and broken bat opposite field singles.  Well this weekend the Royals were back to their old tricks.  They won on Saturday thanks to some shaky Toronto defense, but Friday was the real kicker.  The Jays entered the bottom of the 9th with a 4-1 lead, and proceeded to retire two of the first three batters.   With a runner on 2nd, 2 out, and three straight sub-.200 batters due up, the Jays win expectancy was 98%.  Then the Royals started doing Royal things: a 9-pitch walk, a bleeder that dropped in, and two solidly struck hits later, KC walked off with a 5-4 win.  In a season in which Toronto is unable to reach .500, giving away games to middling opponents is tough pill to swallow.

  1. RISP Woes

Of course, one of the main reasons why the Royals won that game on Friday night was their ability to hit with runners in scoring position.  Sadly, this is something that has eluded the Blue Jays this season.  They were up 4-1 heading into the 9th on Friday, but could easily have had more after putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out in the 8th.  The result?  Back-to-back weak groundouts by Pillar and Barney.  For the week, Toronto went 16 for 74 (.216) with RISP, lowering their season mark to .226, second worst in the American League.  In a season where runs are seemingly harder to come by than ever, the Blue Jays are going to need to improve on that number to have any chance at making it back to the playoffs.

Player of the Week

Justin Smoak, 1B

Now a 10-game hitting streak for Toronto’s potential All-Star:  10 for 24, 4 BB, 2 2B, 5 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .417 / .500 / .625 / 1.125

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

AAA – Buffalo: 35 – 40, 5th place, 13.5 GB

AA – New Hampshire: 31 – 43, 6th place, 17 GB

A+ – Dunedin: First Half: 34 – 35, 4th place, 4.5 GB; Second Half: 1 – 3, T-5th, 2 GB

A – Lansing: First Half: 37 -29, 4th place, 7.5 GB; Second Half: 0 – 4, 8th place, 4 GB

A (Short Season) – Vancouver: 8 – 3, T-1st place

The Look Ahead

Back home to kick off a hellish 13-game stretch.

June 27 – 29 vs. Baltimore

June 30 – July 2 vs. Boston

The Week That Was: Week 11

Every Monday during the 2017 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.

Week 11: June 12 – June 18

Record: 2 – 3

Season-to-date: 33 – 35

AL East: 5th,  5.5 games behind New York

Wild Card: 2 games behind Tampa Bay

  1. 0-7

Try as they might, the 2017 edition of the Toronto Blue Jays just can’t reach the .500 mark.  On Tuesday they tried for the sixth time to break even at home against Tampa Bay, but dropped the game 8-1 to the Rays.  Then on Friday night the Jays welcomed the White Sox to town with opportunity number seven to reach .500.  But they dropped their seventh straight contest in .500 games, this one an 11-4 thumping.  It remains a huge hurdle that this squad has yet to overcome.  One gets a feeling that all they need to do is break through that barrier, and once through a huge run awaits.  But getting there has proven to be the toughest part.  At 33-35, the Jays will hopefully have an eighth crack it early next week.

  1. Lefties Starting to Shine

Entering the season, Toronto’s rotation was expected to be a major strength.  Unfortunately, that has yet to be the case.  As of this morning, Toronto’s starting pitchers have posted a 4.48 ERA, 7th best in the American League.  Obviously injuries have played a major part, with Sanchez, Happ, and Liriano all missing time.  So it was with great relief when both LHP were activated from the DL in recent weeks, and with greater joy when Happ and Liriano were effective in their most recent starts.  Liriano pitched 7 innings allowing only 2 ER, 5 H, and 2 BB while striking out 9 on Wednesday, and has posted a 3.71 ERA in his three starts since returning.  Happ pitched into the seventh inning yesterday, allowed 3 ER, struck out 9 and didn’t walk a batter.  He has now won two straight starts.  With Estrada and Biagini scuffling in recent weeks, the Jays are going to need Liriano and Happ to continue to pitch well in order to reach .500 and beyond.

  1. 2017 Draft

The MLB draft was held last week and by all accounts the Blue Jays did very well.  With their first pick Toronto took SS Logan Warmoth from the University of North Carolina, and added RHP Nate Pearson from Central Florida Community College with their supplemental first round pick.  Although it will take years for either player to make an impact, both selections received an “A” grade from Bleacher Report, for what that’s worth.  The most interesting selection Toronto made was picking Kacy Clemens in the eighth round.  Kacy is the son of Roger Clemens who obviously spent two very good (and likely chemically enhanced) years as a Blue Jay.

Player of the Week

Kendrys Morales, DH

Another big week for Morales, which included an absolutely mammoth HR yesterday:  6 for 21,  1 2B, 4 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .286 / .286 / .762 / 1.048

Down on the Farm

A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing

AAA – Buffalo: 34 – 34, 4th place, 10.5 GB

AA – New Hampshire: 28 – 39, 6th place, 17 GB

A+ – Dunedin: First Half: 33 – 33, 4th place, 2.5 GB

A – Lansing: First Half: 37 -29, 4th place, 7.5 GB

A (Short Season) – Vancouver: 2 – 2, T-2nd place, 1 GB

The Look Ahead

A seven game road trip against recent playoff foes.  Watch for fireworks.

June 19 – 22 at Texas

June 23 – 25 at Kansas City