The Daily Duce: Wednesday, May 4th

ducetemp

Daily??!?!?

Arden Zwelling tweets tonight’s Jays lineup, and Justin Smoak is hitting ahead of Troy Tulowitzki, who has been dropped to sixth. That’s notable enough, but yeah, Tulo’s been struggling and Smoak suddenly has a 149 wRC+ on the season — literally suddenly: heading into last night’s game he was at 105.

Not entirely sure what to make of this, kinda like how I’m not entirely sure what to make of Tulowitzki right now: the incomparable @james_in_to tweets that, from 2013 to 2016, the percentage of Tulo’s strike two swings on pitches low in the zone has gone like this: 83%, 77%, 83%, 53%. What the hell is that about?

TJ Quinn of ESPN’s Outside The Lines looks into the recent spate of PED suspensions for Turinabol, Chris Colabello among them, and reports that more are coming. He suggests that while contaminated supplements is one of the possible explanations for the increase in positive tests, another is that testing technology is simply getting better. “Testing for Turinabol took a major leap forward two years ago, and as anti-doping labs have adopted the technology, users apparently didn’t get the word,” he explains. Metabolites of the drug can be detected for much longer than used to be the case, so players who may have been taking it in the off-season and not having it register may now be getting popped. Interesting piece.

Matt Dominguez was sent down by the Jays on Tuesday, as they’ve recalled left-hander Chad Girodo to their bullpen. BP Toronto has some thoughts on this, rightly suggesting that it’s hard to see the Jays leaving themselves with a short bench for very long, though, especially a couple lefties slated to face them over the weekend (which is not ideal for Justin Smoak). They wonder if maybe an Andy Burns for Ryan Tepera swap is the answer there, which… I don’t know, sure.

Speaking of possible transactions, John Lott tweets that the Jays are among numerous clubs who will be having a look at Tim Lincecum, who will be showcased for teams on Friday. It’s said that he would prefer to start (which, wouldn’t we all?), which makes it hard to see how he would be a real fit here at the moment. As does the fact that, were he to be willing to pitch in relief and to come to Toronto, he’d enter a mix of left-handed bullpen options that includes the aforementioned Girodo, plus Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Franklin Morales, and Pat Venditte right-handed bullpen options that already includes Roberto Osuna, Drew Store, Jesse Chavez, and Gavin Floyd (because he’s right-handed… not left-handed like I originally thought. Ugh.). Aaaand, y’know, who knows how he’s even going to look. But hey, at least someone from the front office gets to go to Arizona!

Also speaking of possible transactions, FanGraphs doesn’t list the Jays among the possible landing spots, but Ryan Braun could be on the move, and they look at where that could be to. I’ve already had one person wonder if Braun’s could be a name the Jays will look to in order to replace some of the production they’re likely to lose next winter, which… ew .But on the other hand… no, it’s still ew.

Elsewhere at Fangraphs, Neil Weinberg looks at a strange month in the world of pinch hitting, as pinch hitters fared exceptionally well! (Though he’s not mentioned in the piece, I’m just going to attribute most of this to the stat-skewing exploits of Darwin damn Barney.)

And speaking of Barney, Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com notes that John Gibbons told reporters this week that we’ll be seeing a bit more of him, as Barney will shift from being a straight backup into more a platoon role at second base with Ryan Goins. At least until Devon Travis is ready.

Speaking of Travis, and elsewhere at BlueJays.com, Gregor fills us in on how the Jays got an up-close look at some of their rehabbing players when they were in Tampa on the weekend. That, of course, includes Travis, about whom John Gibbons said, “I don’t know if he’s ahead of schedule or anything, but there wasn’t anything lingering.” Travis was optimistic about how everything is going, apparently. Don’t start holding your breath on him just yet, though.

Apropos of nothing: “Imagine the shitstorm we’d be in rn if Shapiro, and not Saint Alex, was responsible for the $40M going annually to Martin and Tulo,” was something that I tweeted on Tuesday night. Because, right??? Had at least one interesting retweet, too.

At Baseball Prospectus, Doug Thorburn’s weekly Raising Aces piece has a segment on Marcus Stroman, who he’s encouraged by. Apparently Marcus is using his secondary stuff more frequently in two-strike situations than he’s done in the past, and hopefully that’s going to lead to a bump in strikeouts like the one we saw on Sunday against Tampa.

More from BP, as Joshua Howsam of BP Toronto tells us about Fantex — the company that is purchasing the rights to athletes’ future earnings, and turning them into a stock that fans can invest in themselves. It’s a hell of a concept, and Josh fills us in on what it means for teams (hurting) and players (helping).

Interesting stuff from Susan Krashinsky of the Globe and Mail, who looks at Canada’s newest sugar cereal pitchman: Jose Bautista? Better make sure all those Bautista-adorned, limited-run boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams are all sold by November, boys! *COUGH*

Back to Arden Zwelling, who tells us at Sportsnet that RA Dickey is hoping that he’s finally found a turning point for his season, after a strong outing on Monday (in a loss).

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith talks to Kevin Pillar, who says he’s feeling better — or, in his words, more consistent — at the plate lately, which… yeah, it’s showing.

Jays Prospects looks at Ryan Hissey of Lansing, who we’re told stands out as a solid catcher in the Jays’ system, which… OK, cool.

The Red Sox generally avoid getting insurance for their big contracts, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, which stems from owner John Henry’s difficulty getting a payout back when he owned the Florida Marlins.

Here’s a real shitty way to feel slightly better about a certain 2013 trade: MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo fills us in on what’s up with Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud, and it’s not great: he’s out with a strained rotator cuff, hasn’t yet begun any kind of physical activity with it, let alone throwing, and has no timetable for his return. That sucks.

Lastly, a question: have you ever seen the original version of Roberto Alomar’s iconic Catch The Taste commercial from the early 90s? Answer: probably at some time in your life, if you’re old enough to have seen its original run, but not for a long time, because it hasn’t been online until now! (A 1994 version was, but this is the 1993 version right here — for the purists). Catch the clip, and a brief write-up I provided, over at Toronto Life.