I have mixed feelings about the Blue Jays’ current home, TD Ballpark. On one hand, it’s a fun stadium with a short porch and the potential for a lot of home runs. If the wind is blowing off the lake just right, it can blow some would-be homers back into play. It can also be a fairly annoying place to watch a game on television. There are far too many fans of the road team. The Blue Jays are way out of their element, and obviously far away from their home city. Here’s hoping a return closer to Toronto, Buffalo’s Sahlen Field will provide more of a home-field advantage.
Ten Big Games
The final “home” stand played in Florida represents a key stretch for the Jays. They got off to a great start Tuesday night, belting a season-high 18 hits in an 8-0 rout of the Red Sox. The offensive outburst was supported by a 7-inning gem from Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ji-Man Choi went to the same high school in Iceheon, South Korea and graduated four years apart.— BroBible (@BroBible) May 23, 2021
They faced each other in the MLB for the first time today. pic.twitter.com/qEKr5Ctleh
Ross Stripling didn’t fare so well, getting hammered for 5 runs in the first inning the following night. Steven Matz was similarly crushed in the second frame on Thursday night. He did battle and wound up pitching six innings. After taking a late lead, the bullpen blew it on a J.D. Martinez two-run homer in the ninth.
It was Martinez’s 250th career home run, given up by Rafael Dolis. It was a somewhat curious decision by Manager Charlie Montoyo to have Dolis close the game. He had only pitched in one game since coming off the IL last week.
Friday’s series opener against the Rays was a back-and-forth affair that ended up going to extra innings. Despite the efforts of Marcus Semien, who finished a single short of the cycle, the Jays lost 9-5 in twelve innings.
Montoyo also made a questionable call on Sunday. After stud reliever Tyler Chatwood got into a jam in the ninth, lefty Travis Bergen was brought in. He walked 3 straight batters to allow Tampa Bay to steal a 6-4 victory.
I wrote last week that the Jays could consider adding a veteran like Max Scherzer at or near the trade deadline. Early in the week, I heard reports of another option. Jon Morosi of MLB.com suggested the club was interested in trading for Twins starter Jose Berrios.
José Berríos is one name to watch as a trade fit for the #BlueJays, as I just mentioned on #MLBCentral. When a team has the worst record in the AL, as the #Twins do, it’s hard to say any players are off limits. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 19, 2021
It’s certainly an interesting match. Berrios is 26 years old and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2022. He’s had a nice career already but there’s a belief that he could still improve. The Blue Jays have a number of desirable prospects like Jordan Groshans and Gabriel Moreno. That could help the Twins who have floundered this season after winning the AL Central the last two years.
I Invented A Stat!
As I’ve lamented all season, the Jays starting rotation following Ryu, Matz, and Robbie Ray has been terrible. I’ve been keeping track of the pitchers’ ERA entering each game and how much it increases or decreases. That’s at the heart of my new stat, STA which stands for Starters Trending Average.
Player, ERA entering game, ERA after game, +/-
Hyun-Jin Ryu 2.95-> 2.51 -0.44
Ross Stripling 5.91-> 7.20 +1.29
Steven Matz 4.29-> 4.69 +0.40
Anthony Kay 7.24-> 6.62 -0.62
Robbie Ray 3.79-> 3.42 -0.37
Ryu 2.51-> 2.53 +0.02
STA = +0.28
So the statistic calculates how much the collective starting rotation ERA goes up or down from week to week. Obviously, the numbers will change less dramatically as the season goes on, but that’s the same for all baseball stats.
You’re Up, Kid (At Some Point, Maybe)
I came across another, established stat on Friday. In the month of April, the Blue Jays starters had a collective ERA of 4.26, their bullpen had an ERA of 2.52. In May those numbers have swelled to 5.04 and 4.05 respectively.
It’s the natural consequence of an overworked bullpen. Anthony Kay and Jeremy Beasley will work on their stuff in Triple-A. Anthony Castro and Ty Tice are on the active roster in a corresponding move.
“It sets the tone for the whole team to just see a starter out there battling and keeping us in the game”— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 23, 2021
Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann talks about the benefits of having longer starts. pic.twitter.com/fYMk7YkUog
Blue Jays fans are salivating over the debut of Alek Manoah. The big right-hander from Florida has been dominant in Buffalo and appears to be ready for a promotion. The club appears to want to keep him in the minors for now.
New Face at the Hot Corner
Cavan Biggio has had a miserable season. He hasn’t hit well and has been a liability defensively. He is currently on the IL with a cervical spine ligament sprain. That opens the door for Santiago Espinal, who has been sharp throughout the spring at third. Joe Panik is now on the active roster to provide infield depth.
Marcus Semien – 11
Bo Bichette – 9
Randal Grichuk – 7
This should be a fun race to track all season.
The Blue Jays will begin playing at Sahlen Field on June 1st. That’s also the first day I allow myself to look at the standings. I don’t usually tease about my future posts but I will be reacting to my first look at the MLB landscape. Hoping the Jays current five-game losing streak is over by then.
The work continues at Sahlen Field with #Bluejays opener just nine days away. The facing of the press box is painted blue (top left). X marks the spot where the new foul pole will go in LF (top right). And new signage by the ticket office and gate. pic.twitter.com/vrkgbd8Hns— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) May 23, 2021