Blue Jays face untimely pitch questions as home stretch looms

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TORONTO – As the Toronto Blue Jays need to start solidifying their plans for the home streak and prepare for the postseason, they are suddenly faced with new questions about pitching personnel.

A second straight beat from the New York Yankees – this one a 13-2 beaten on Wednesday, which featured four homers in four innings off Tanner Roark – isn’t alarming, although it raises questions about their ability. to contain a real elite crime.

The Yankees hit six home runs in Tuesday’s 20-6 bombing and added seven more in the follow-up, making them the fifth team in baseball history with back-to-back games of at least six home runs (the Blue Jays did it Aug 12 and 14 this year too). The 13 home runs in two games also tied a franchise record, as the Blue Jays have allowed at least six home runs in consecutive games for the first time in club history.

“We didn’t start well, we were behind in the count and their line-up is pretty good,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “That’s what happens, scoring so many points.”

Roark was much more brutal: “They kicked us in the ass.”

A bigger picture, however, given what we know at this point, who should start a possible playoff decider for the Blue Jays behind ace Hyun-Jin Ryu and Taijuan Walker, lined up to kick off Games 1 and 2 of a post-season series as things stand?

If everyone took their turns, Roark would get the ball, and he’s still trying to find some rhythm and regain some speed, saying the shortened season has the physical feel of mid-May to mid-September stakes.

“I don’t mean that as an excuse, but over 162 games the guys got it right,” he explained. “Personally, I’m starting to feel certain things click, stay on the rubber longer, lower and move away some throws, feel that feeling for all of my throws. This is the critical moment now, so there are no excuses.

Beyond him is Chase Anderson, who starts Thursday’s series finale in the Bronx against Masahiro Tanaka and continues his season since opening on the injured list with oblique tension. He allowed 10 runs in his last 6.2 innings.

Lefty Robbie Ray, who is due to start one of two games in Friday’s double-game against the Philadelphia Phillies, has some tricks and a pedigree at the top of the rotation but is still trying not to be called after a miserable opening in the season. Ross Stripling, also tentatively slated to cast part of the double-billed, appears to be settling into a swingman role.

So no clear answer, which makes the live batting practices that Matt Shoemaker and Nate Pearson kicked off on Wednesday all the more intriguing. Next steps for them will be determined based on how they feel on Thursday, but Montoyo said the Blue Jays have asked Shoemaker to throw in a few more throws after completing his two innings to position him for a quick comeback.

There isn’t enough track to properly set him up for the rotation at this point, but he could potentially come back as a starter capable of completing 3-4 innings, and the Blue Jays could then straddle Pearson, who would be in a similar situation. boat, or Stripling behind it.

Since there won’t be any rest days between games in each postseason series, the Blue Jays won’t necessarily be able to follow a lap the same way they’ve played the season. regular. None of their relievers have thrown three straight days yet, and the loss of Ken Giles to a recurrence of his elbow problems, combined with the continued absence of Jordan Romano, drastically reduces their leverage options at the end of the season. part.

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering all the latest news with opinions and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

Shoemaker and Pearson could help in that regard as well, as a regression for Ryan Borucki and Anthony Kay, picked on Wednesday for rookie right-hander Hector Perez, means Montoyo doesn’t have the stable left-to-left weapons he did earlier. this season. Thomas Hatch and Julian Merryweather have been great but are still relatively untested.

Therefore, as the Blue Jays work to lock in a postseason spot – four losses in six games have seen the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles sneak onto the radar – they also need to rethink how to distribute their sleeves most effectively.

“We have to get to that point someday,” Montoyo said, “but we have to cover (Thursday), and go from there to the double title.

A correction from Roark would go a long way, as the right-hander has now allowed six homers in his last seven innings, all against the Yankees, who have won seven straight wins since avoiding a sweep in Buffalo last week. He is also expected to face them again next week at Sahlen Field.

Roark gave up two home runs on four seam fastballs and two more on weights, with DJ LeMahieu deep on one each. Clint Frazier also entered a four-seamer while Kyle Higashioka spun on a lead in the middle for the first of his three home runs.

Courtesy of Baseball Savant.

It’s now 14 home runs in 39.1 innings for Roark, who retired last year 28 in 165.1 frames. His speed had dropped by about two mph on his fastballs so far this season, but he was closer to par on Wednesday, to 91.7 on his four seams and 91.3 on the lead – around one mph on both lengths, but still below a check mark. at 92.1 and 91.9, it averaged last year.

“It definitely makes me take a positive from a negative. Now you have to get that fastball down and far down to the knees and go from there, ”Roark said. “My next pen, maybe I could throw all the fastballs and get it right.”

A little more offense, especially with the Yankees back at full strength after activating Aaron Judge on Wednesday, would also help, allowing the Blue Jays to use their better relievers rather than the cleanup squad. Their activation of Teoscar Hernandez earlier than expected should also lengthen the batting order in the days to come.

They hadn’t planned to bring Hernandez on Wednesday, but when Derek Fisher was hit in the knee by Shoemaker during the afternoon’s live batting practice, the outfielders traded places on the list of wounded.

“I hope he’s feeling good (Thursday) morning and has a chance to make the roster,” said Montoyo.

The Blue Jays need all the help they can get, as they have 12 games to go, with Anderson ready to start three. Yet even after a pair of unbalanced losses, they remain in control of their own destiny, even though they have more and more to figure out along the way.



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