Into June We Go!
May was a fantastic month for the Jays, a lot of people (including the Baseball Prospectus) are presently placing the Jays #3 favourite to win the World Series this year. Oof. This is where the wheels typically come off; when the expectations grow higher.
Lets take a moment and review a previous post of mine with respect to Alex Anthopolous’ sleep quality to see how my predictions panned out:
Stuff that’s like warm milk or a fuzzy teddy bear or whatever:
- My offense will score runs. And in abundance! Even with as many as 5 black-holes in the line-up (at the 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 positions), the Blue Jays managed to post one of the best offensive seasons in the American League last year. Which is very impressive. The 2 position has been at least partially addressed, healthy seasons from Lawrie, Reyes, and Cabrera will address 5, 6 & 7. Which just leaves 4. And provided we get good defense at that position, I’m satisfied.
Wow. Who knew that this would be so accurate? The Jays are presently the #2 ranked offense in terms of Runs per Game, behind only Oakland. Not a horrific part of that has to do with the health of Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, and Brett Lawrie. Additions of platoon partners of Francisco and Tolleson doesn’t hurt at all either. I should also mention the historic numbers of EE in May, and Joey Bats being regular Joey Bats. A real murderer’s row of a line-up.
- My bullpen is more than capable. It’s superb. It’s also very crowded, and some of these pitchers may need to be dealt prior to the beginning of the season because they’re out of options. Think Brad Lincoln being dealt for Kratz. More stuff of this nature.
This hasn’t really taken shape as much as I thought it would. A few bullpen implosions at the hands of recently DFA’d Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond are the primary causes there, and Stroman in his adjustment period from the majors. He got hit out of the pen, and *HARD*. Things have stabilized quite a bit now that Casey Janssen is back, but Delabar is looking off his game, and Sergio couldn’t find the strike zone, but could find the DL. Generally good results from the lefties though, which is important in the AL East in particular (Chris Davis, David Ortiz, etc etc etc).
- Starting Rotation Depth: You know what? I don’t necessarily see this as a problem. You have 3 pitchers absolutely locked into the rotation in Dickey, Buehrle, and Morrow. You’re probably going to break camp with Happ, because he nearly died last year in front of your eyes and want to give him the benefit of the doubt (and he’s out of options!). Which leaves one spot open, for the likes of Stroman, Hutchinson, Drabek, Redmond, Rogers (who might fit better in the bullpen), Nolin and Sanchez. Even if Morrow goes down per his custom, and you let Redmond break camp with you (or someone!) you can still call up one of the others mid-season. While you might not get the production as a proven commodity (like *perhaps* Ervin Santana), you gotta like what you see here.
This hasn’t really panned out. Overall, the Jays sit just above the AL average in ERA, and just under the league average for IP/start. Buehrle has been Cy-Young calibre, and the rest rotation has been surprisingly solid, outside of a few rough starts by Hutch (the best) and R.A. Dickey. Morrow’s on the DL, so he’s a wild-card. At present J.A. Happ and Stroman are good candidates for the #4 & #5 spots, but they’re going to need a bit more nursing along with full use of rest days, etc, same with Hutch. Options if any of these guys were to hit the DL are basically spot starts from Redmond (who hasn’t been that effective in that role) or Hendrick, who has been hit hard but miraculously has very little damage to show for it.
The other note here is that when the pitching’s been bad, the offense has been fantastic, and when you’re winning ballgames, who cares how? This could still use some addressing later on in the season, but the market needs to take shape.
- Team Defense: This was atrocious last year, due in large part to that gaping hole at the 4 spot. For whatever reason, Bonifacio couldn’t get the job done, and Izturis had problems adjusting to the turf. Not until minor leaguer Goins showed up late in the season did we see improvement there. The revolving door at the left side of the diamond didn’t help things much either, with Lawrie and Reyes going down for injury… which leads to the brutal cold of the night. The gaping maw of the unknown…
The defense has been stellar.
- 2013: This was an unmitigated disaster. Whatever could go wrong, went wrong. Murphy’s law, right? No statistical analysis can offer a solution to why this roster underperformed, but frankly it did. Every player (other than Edwin) has the potential to play better than he did in 2013. They just didn’t. No one has the answer. But it’s looming in the rearview mirror. Waiting…
The pessimist in me is thinking the Jays are due to implode at any moment, and all it takes is an ill-timed injury, perhaps in the rotation. So far, everyone has been performing at or above expectations (with the exception of the pitching, which could be doing better on both fronts). Time will tell if this will be the heart breaking season to follow the season that just never developed.