And for me at least – someone who figured them out for about 83 wins – it went better than expected.
The game itself is in a weird, oddly out of phase place with six hitters without hits, still too much bat feast or starvation (Seattle Mariners hit .198 as a team), too many hitters, a feeling that it ‘is too biased towards pitching and injuries. Dear lord… the wounds.
the New York Post reported that as of Tuesday there had been 351 non-Covid uses of the injured list, up from 281-291 from 2017 to 2019. For the anecdote, there are stories of organizations including minor leagues are in an even worse situation, as the economic dislocation of a lost 2020 worked head-first in a new, scaled-down minor league structure. But it is okay. I think we’re in the early stages of the organic overhaul where some things will work and some things won’t. It’s going to be wobbly.
The pandemic has taken our sports teams away, for the most part. The Blue Jays will move to Buffalo following this weekend’s series against the Tampa Bay Rays in Dunedin, and there’s a feeling we could see them at Rogers Center in the fall, maybe even August.
I can’t wait, because the growth of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the enthusiasm generated by Alek Manoah have reinforced the major difference between this group and the 2015 and 2016 playoffs: it is a team with which we can grow; a potential World Series winner developing before our eyes with players who may not be at their peak by the end of the year.
These two previous playoff teams gave us a lot of excitement, of course, but there was a unique feeling about them. We knew the programming was based on late artists such as Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson; knew David Price was only going to be here for a few months, suspected Troy Tulowitzki had never really joined and knew Russell Martin was on his last legs. It was a team that came together by trades and the chance to trade free agents, less by design and development.
With that as a backdrop, here are some thoughts on the Blue Jays as they pass the quarter-pole and prepare to come up north in a tantalizing way.
1. THE DIVISION
Now we see why the Boston Red Sox were liked by many predictive models, while the rest of us wondered about our starting pitcher.
Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez are strong hearts and offensively pounding and, I don’t know, maybe there was something about Martinez’s suggestion last season that he was injured by a lack of access. to the game video – a combination of Covid-19 Restrictions as well as reaction to the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
“It cooled my anxiety,” Martinez told reporters in April.
There’s a lot of Nick Pivetta going on here, just like there’s a lot of Corey Kluber going on with the New York Yankees and Robbie Ray with the Blue Jays.
Something to note: The Blue Jays have played a more difficult schedule so far than any team in the division. They still have 19 games to play against the Baltimore Orioles, a series with the Detroit Tigers, and they have already played 11 of 20 inter-league games against teams from the throwing-rich National League East, benefiting from some injuries. and a lack of performance to go 9-2.
Don’t be surprised if the AL East race is settled in the NL East – and for the Blue Jays, so far, so very, very, well…
2. THE FIRST BASEMAN
Has anyone ever doubted that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could be an everyday first baseman, go to the All-Star Game and be a MVP candidate? I’ll admit it – I got out of last season.
Look, there’s still a lot of baseball to play and a lot of stretching to do and some stray mistakes throw the line and into the baseline runner to deal with, but we’ve reached a point in Guerrero’s development as a defenseman when we’re no more surprised when it makes a tough playing routine.
Smart people always thought he hit, but I wish we thought of something else: he was one of 15 Majors players to appear in all of his team’s regular season and playoff games last season. – after appearing in summer camp looks a little restless – and he kept his promise to get back in shape in the offseason.
He played every day, managing to dodge some of the sharp objects in the team’s high performance department that got in the way of other players, and if you can’t play every day, you can’t be an offensive player in the game. ‘elite. It’s time to start giving him credit for what he did, beyond the numbers …
3. THE RANGE
It’ll be fun watching manager Charlie Montoyo figure out what to do with Marcus Semien once George Springer is healthy, assuming Springer is starting out.
In three of the four games Springer has played, Semien has reached sixth place three times and it seems to make the most sense. Montoyo rightly settled on a 3-4-5 from Guerrero, Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk – with cameos from Cavan Biggio.
Either way, it’s a sign of the team’s growth that the batting order has been largely settled. It only remains to see which outfielder will be the strangest.
In the meantime, a true cottage industry has been born, excited about how Blue Jays hitters have become machines for hitting shifts and intermediate hitting. Astros manager Dusty Baker spoke out after a game against the Blue Jays and said the squad’s explosiveness wreaked havoc with his enclosure because things can come undone so quickly …
Remember all that offseason talk about improving race prevention? The answer turned out to be adding a free fielder and asking a veteran fielder to leave his position while moving your second baseman to third base.
There was no greater point of concern at the start of the season when it looked like Bo Bichette and Biggio had developed a bad case of happy hands to the point where Guerrero was put in dangerous situations. But it seems that everything is stabilized.
The Blue Jays are running doubles and while the roster percentage is a “meh” statistic, it’s a lot less “meh” when you’re not among the worst teams in the league in that category. The Jays are top tier in that number while still being 21st in Defensive WAR.
Here’s the thing: With this roster, I’d be content with an infielder playing league average defense behind a pitcher’s stick that’s going to put the ball into play a lot. There are signs that are happening. Enough for me.
1. A FALSE SPRING
We know Springer is a Blue Jay, mostly because of his place at the top of the team’s payroll and all those photos of him in the dugout.
The fact that the Blue Jays win in his absence has so far minimized the paranoia – the fear that his contract is the offspring of Vernon Wells’ worst contract in baseball history exists mostly in the outer regions of the single. -digit Twitterati – but, yeah, it would be nice to have a longer look at that lineup with him at the top.
The upside is that the Blue Jays aren’t content to just hold the fort without him, and if nothing else Springer should be well rested for the summer. I’m sure the high performance department will take care of that, right?
2. LA PERSPECTIVE DE PITCHING
I hate to say that I told you – actually, no. No really not. I’m pretty comfortable repeating what I believed from last season: that the right approach with Nate Pearson is to take whatever you’re going to get in 2021.
If the Blue Jays don’t think stepping out of the Big League statement box is an option or will help him develop, I will have to accept it. They have the technology, etc., etc.
At the very least, I’d love to see them use some type of piggyback system once it gets here – put it on a five day program with someone like Anthony Kay or Ross Stripling backing it up – but most of all At this point, I want to see his next setback happen at Triple-A.
The organization doesn’t have to come out and say publicly that Manoah and Thomas Hatch have passed him in the pecking order, but surely it’s time to operate on that assumption …
3. THERE IS A TAKING
I throw this only for balance. In a perfect world, it would have been nice to see James McCann sign as a free agent, but the organization has a lot of catching depth in the minor leagues and has a pseudo-no. 1 to Danny Jansen who was really successful with Hyun-Jin Ryu.
As long as he and Reese McGuire and, upon his return, Alejandro Kirk can do something from eighth or ninth place and not make deadly mental mistakes, we can probably all live with it …
4. LE BULLPEN
You know it’s been a good start when you can take an area of strength and classify it as weakness a lot less because of performance than worry level.
Look: The Blue Jays love analytics, and analytics turned the relief launch into a “game economy,” in the words of Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci. So it’s no surprise that despite injuries to No.1 Closer Kirby Yates and No.2 Closer Julian Merryweather, the Blue Jays have done more than just stick together body and soul. Yet a lot of fungible assets are being asked to take on a significant load and, well …
So here we are. It’s a team that’s far from a finished product, although I’ve gone from thinking that two starting pitchers are hesitant to be the real deal to just being a really good starting pitcher. Give me a Luis Castillo guy or a Pablo Lopez or such an arm to complete Ryu, Ray, Steven Matz and a house option and I’m good to go. Just throw names in there, but you get the drift:
I guess Wednesday night won’t be the last time this Blue Jays team finds itself in a position to move up to the top spot this season. I’d love to think we’ll see it in August or September, and I’d rather not be Ross Stripling on the mound yet, thank you very much.
But above all, I want it to be here. In Toronto. Where does this team belong.