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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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