The Daily Duce: Monday, May 2nd

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Daily??!?!?

MLBTR passes along the fact that in Ken Rosenthal’s latest video for Fox Sports, he says that the Jays (as well as the Giants — who the Jays visit next week, FYI) will both look to fortify their bullpens as the season advances. Which… uh… ya think?

The Texas Rangers are in town and… hmm… did anything notable happen the last time they were here? Answer: not if you’re Elvis Andrus, whose nightmare inning in Game Five is the subject of a terrific piece from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The piece goes deeper than just that, though, including this money quote on the bat flip from catcher Chris Gimenez (as tweeted by @DrewGROF): “It sounded like an explosion, like a gunshot. I still see it. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget where I set up, how the ball released out of [Dyson’s] hand, how it is tracking right into his barrel,” Gimenez says. “It’s so loud and my jersey is literally vibrating. He’s standing there. My brain is telling me I’ve got to say something, I’ve got to do something, but I’m just frozen. You can’t believe everything that just transpired and that’s went down.”

Jamie Newberg of the Newberg Report offers a nice prologue to the upcoming series from a Rangers perspective, too. It’s almost like they remember how their season ended!

Jonah Keri of CBS Sports goes under the hood on Marco Estrada, his “rising” fastball, his arm angle, his spin rate, and how it’s all coming together to make a once-overlooked pitcher look awfully legit.

Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun talks about Drew Storen, who John Gibbons says he’s going to stick with despite his poor start to the season. Gibbers doesn’t have a whole lot of other choice, but it’s not exactly easy to watch whenever Storen gets his name called. Not easy to look at his velocity chart either. Which is to say: I don’t know that we need to play up the “struggles coming to the AL” angle — even if that’s what Storen himself is doing (both in Fidlin’s piece and in this one from Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (and presumably others)).

Speaking of struggling Jays, as I noted in my ostensible recap, it was great to see Troy Tulowitzki go deep on Sunday, it’s just… we need to see that kind of thing consistently. And speaking of that, here’s a piece from Matt Gross of Bluebird Banter on just how much improvement we can expect from Jays hitters going forward. A couple weeks ago he looked specifically at Tulo’s early struggles, which is still (sadly) quite a worthwhile and relevant read.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Spotsnet talks to Devon Travis, who says it was “awesome” to finally be hitting live pitching again — as he did this weekend. Finally.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, the Tao of Stieb wonders if Jays fans can learn to love JA Happ. (If he keeps pitching the way he has so far, you’re damn right they can — not that some of the cretins who hated on that signing are going to be quick to admit they were wrong, I’m sure).

Speaking of Happ, David Laurila of FanGraphs speaks to him, among others, about his turnaround since last year’s trade deadline — a narrative Happ himself doesn’t quite agree with, noting that he hit a rough patch with the Mariners, but actually started 2015 better than people remember (a 3.31 ERA over his first 11 starts).

More from Sportsnet, as Benny Fresh has a notebook post wherein we’re told that Aaron Loup’s injury rehab is going well, and he could return in a month. Meanwhile, Mike Wilner says that the Revere-Storen trade isn’t to blame for the Jays’ slow start, which is apparently something that idiots think.

Here’s a pair from Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com, as he looks at how Aaron Sanchez could become an elite pitcher thanks to his ridiculously good sinker (assuming it’s on the way it was against Tampa on Friday), and how Michael Saunders is kinda nailing it so far.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star goes out on a limb and tells us that April didn’t quite go the way the Jays had planned it.

Elsewhere in the Star, Mark Zwolinski looks at Saturday’s game, in which Brett Cecil’s season went from bad to worse somehow (though I actually think his actual pitches have looked better in his last couple of appearances, and he sure could have used getting that out when him and Justin Smoak were both slow to the bag at first).

Need more reason to maybe not worry so hard just yet about Cecil? GROF tweets a look at Cecil’s numbers from May 1st forward in each of the last two seasons. Amazingly, in both years he posted an ERA of 2.09 over that span (and his ERAs for April in both of those years were similarly bad, too: 5.14 and 5.23).

Back to FanGraphs, where Craig Edwards takes a deep look into the incentives on both the players and owners sides when considering how to better MLB’s PED testing regime, which… it turns out is fairly fair.

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, Owen Watson goes deep into what’s gone wrong with Joey Votto so far this year, as he’s been bad at the plate for a full month for essentially the first time in his career.

Baseball Prospectus highlights Lansing’s Francisco Rios in their latest Monday Morning Ten Pack, noting his good deception (which gives him an average fastball, rather than a grade below, James Fisher tells us), and the fact that he could be a back-end starter if a third pitch comes along, or perhaps a bullpen weapon if his stuff plays up in short bursts. So… yeah.

And at BP Toronto, Joshua Howsam and Chris Sherwin go deep under the hood on JA Happ — pivoting, perhaps, on a great piece last week from our own John Lott over at Vice Sports — to show how he just keeps getting better, and is now in an excellent, efficient place, changing his approach with two strikes to get strikeouts, while otherwise trying to generate weak contact and quick outs. This is not your older brother’s JA Happ, in other words (and that JA Happ was already better than you remembered).

Jays From The Couch looks at Jays relievers through the lens of Shutdowns and Meltdowns, which is interesting, though the fact that Drew Storen somehow has three shutdowns to one meltdown should tell you that this iiiiiiiisn’t exactly a be-all, end-all stat for reliever quality.

Interesting thought from Jim Scott of Jays Journal, which comes by way of Astros blog The Crawfish Boxes, where they looked at Houston’s glut of first basemen and saw a potential trading partner in the Jays — specifically for former high-end prospect Jon Singleton. Sure, do it.

Lastly, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes about how the strange saga of the Jose Reyes is almost over (MLB is expected to hand down his punishment this week), but wonders what happens when it is. What happens to the billion dollar baseball franchise, or how Reyes fits into his team now, are, of course, not the most important concerns to arise from the situation. But they’re interesting, nonetheless, because how MLB handles this will set a precedent for future domestic violence suspensions. The piece is also notable for Rockies GM Jeff Bridich talking about Reyes’s sudden absence from the team by saying, “There are punches you don’t see coming.” Which… uggggghh. Duuuude.

  • Steve02

    I’ll post on being wrong on Happ when it happened and vocal on this former site. Hated the signing at the time believing him as a 5-and-dive at best. Other than maybe Rich Hill, how about Happ as maybe one of the best deals so far of the off-season on starting pitchers? (Plus I’m more than happy to have been proven wrong)