Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Marco Estrada is such a damn boss.
That is, of course, hardly the only takeaway one can have from yet another series win for the Jays, but it’s a real prominent one after the club’s “holy shit I think this guy really is an ace” took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Boston’s vaunted offence on Sunday. And did so in their joke stadium, no less!
Marco is still not liked a whole lot by FIP, which for him currently sits at 3.82 (his xFIP is 4.69), partly because his walk rate of 9.9% is higher than any season since he became a full-time big leaguer. Still, even by FanGraphs’ FIP-based WAR he’s in the top 25 of MLB starters this season. And if you allow that he really does suppress good contact by screwing up hitters timing with his incredible changeup — which he throws with the same arm speed as his fastball, only it comes in 11 mph slower — he’s been even more impressive relative to his peers.
Because their leaderboards are better I like to use FanGraphs’ RA9-WAR when I’m trying to feel rosy about FIP-busters like Estrada or R.A. Dickey, as it’s simply WAR based on runs allowed. But Baseball Reference’s version of WAR, which is based on runs allowed, then adjusted for opponents, defence, park, etc., might be even better. In both cases, Estrada is having a dream season — ninth best in baseball by both metrics. And over the past calendar year, he’s now fifth best by RA9-WAR.
I feel like I say this every week, but why shouldn’t it be said every week?? Estrada deserves all the praise.
(Plus it keeps me from having to write about the little blip Roberto Osuna had on Sunday — which I think he’s allowed, since he’s been completely fucking nails so far this year — or the tendency fans seem to be falling into lately of ripping on John Gibbons for lack of anything better to piss and moan about. I wouldn’t have minded writing about how R.A. Dickey might be kinda good, though!)
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Over the last 30 days, Marcus Stroman’s 38.3% hard contact rate is the twelfth worst in baseball, among 106 qualified starting pitchers. Most of us wouldn’t have needed such a stat to know that he’s been getting hit hard, because that’s been plain as fuck, but what a number like that can do, however, is give some context that should make us feel a little more comfortable about the ugliness that’s been going on. Stroman’s name on that particular leaderboard at FanGraphs falls between Jon Lester and Jacob deGrom. Cole Hamels has been worse. Jose Fernandez has been worse. Danny Salazar, Chris Tillman, Gio Gonzalez, and Hisashi Iwakuma haven’t been much better.
Extremely good pitchers, in other words, can run into stretches like the one Stroman is currently having. And Stroman doesn’t even have the benefit of those hard hit balls finding gloves, either, as his .397 BABIP over that stretch stands out even among this hard-hit group.
That isn’t to say his performance so far hasn’t been a concern, because obviously it has, but he’s maybe not quite as lost as it feels.
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It’s obviously been a slog for Russell Martin this season, and it hasn’t yet totally felt like he’s coming out of it. However, over the course of the Jays four straight New-York-or-Boston series (which is a sample that very generously includes four home runs), Martin has been terrific: a 171 wRC+, which has brought his season number all the way up to 49 *COUGH*, with a slash line of .286/.359/.657 over eleven games (ten starts). The walk rate (7.7%) is a little low, but at least the strikeout rate (20.5%) isn’t insane (and is actually within his typical range). With a BABIP of .261 over the span, it’s not batted ball luck that’s driving this success, either (hint: it’s those unsustainable power numbers, like his .371 ISO). So… yeah! Keep on doing what you’re doing, Russ.
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Edwin Encarnacion is really heating up, as well, having put up a .279/.373/.558 line (149 wRC+) over the four series himself, with a couple of big home runs at his future home ballpark this weekend *COUGH*. That said, were it not for Marco, I’d probably argue that the biggest performance for the Jays this weekend came from the fans who made the trip down to Boston. Incredible stuff! Almost as incredible as my pandering!
Worth a read…
Aaron Sanchez didn’t pitch over the weekend (he will on Tuesday), but he sure is still worth reading about — especially if you’re going to make it Ben Nicholson-Smith’s latest on him at Sportsnet, which not only highlights how outstanding Sanchy has been, but how his team-announced innings limit is looming. Sanchez wants to stay in the rotation all year he says, and the Jays still have ways to get creative about suppressing his innings (especially around the All-Star break, it’s noted), but the question as to what they’re going to do here is only going to get louder as the season progresses. At least as long as the success continues — and so far it’s shown no signs of stopping.
If I’m being honest, I’d probably prefer to not point entirely to pieces from Sportsnet here, but they did have a couple other great ones this week, with Shi Davidi looking at Jose Bautista’s body-maintenance regimen and how he dominates that like he does fastballs that catch too much of the plate, and Arden Zwelling reporting from Buffalo on Dalton Pompey, who is still looking to find consistency in his game, and offers this not-exactly-uplifting money quote: “I feel as though one day I can be the best player on the field, and then the next day I’m just totally lost.” You’ll come away more encouraged than that makes it sound, though, I’m pretty sure. At least, you will if you ignore the fact that some of the stuff he says about learning to be a pro seems a little odd for a guy who was drafted way back in 2010.
What do you meme?
Gibby GIFs FTW
“Gibby, are you still concerned about the bullpen?” pic.twitter.com/NwQY6PMQze
— Gibby GIFS (@GibbyGIFS) June 4, 2016
— (((Gideon Turk))) (@GideonTurk) June 5, 2016
I mean, come on Rangers bruh. Like, I completely do not get why Rangers people are so sore about the Blue Jays all the time.
Or… oh. Wait. Yes I do.
Monday – Tuesday @ Tigers, 7:10 PM ET
Wednesday @ Tigers, 1:10 PM ET
Thursday – Friday vs. Orioles, 7:07 PM ET
Saturday – Sunday vs. Orioles, 1:07 PM ET
A big series next weekend with an O’s team we probably shouldn’t be as dismissive of as we really, really want to be (or is that just me?), but the Jays have to get through Detroit first. However, with Michael Fulmer and Matt Boyd due to start the first two games of the series against the Tigers, it’s not exactly like they’re going to have to be RoboCop to do so. Let’s do this!
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