Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Well that was… something. A hell of a weekend of baseball, really — and one that felt like it flipped what’s felt like a too-familiar script for the Jays this season. Instead of finding new and unusual ways to to lose winnable games, they managed to win three straight that looked very losable. Not that Sunday’s wild homer-fest should have ever felt close to losable, after the Jays went up 7-1 by the end of the third inning, but it certainly did.
It’s almost like any time the Jays are tied late in a game it feels like one should bet on the opposing bullpen! But obviously this weekend they proved that to be a fallacy… barely.
But before we do that, a reminder that these posts are sponsored by the folks at Draft Kings! So go get your daily fantasy sports on!
Oh, hello Edwin the unreal baseball-hitting monster. Ho hum, Encarnacion now sports a 191 wRC+ so far in June. That’s “merely” good for 15th best in baseball for the month, but I think I’ll bet on Edwin keeping this up, compared to some of the names ahead of him on that list — which includes the still hot Michael Saunders. Edwin’s season wRC+ now sits at 119, so he has a bit of a ways to go still to get to the 145-to-150 mark he’s finished at in each of the last four seasons, but the worst definitely appears to be over. And I’d bet on him getting there, too. (Saunders, it should be noted, is tied for fifth in MLB on the season, at 157)
Jesse Chavez was bad in the Bronx back on May 24th, and had a little moment in the dugout with Russell Martin. He looked lost. After a decent start to the season that saw his leverage getting ramped up as he fully transitioned into a bullpen role, Chavez’s May had gone sideways. At that point he had an 8.44 ERA for the month, with just four strikeouts (and five walks) over 5.1 innings in six appearances. He’d allowed nin hits over that span, two of which were home runs. It was ugly.
He didn’t get called on again until the 28th, using some of the extra time to work on his mechanics, and looking like a different pitcher over the 9.2 innings he’s pitched since. Nine strikeouts, just five walks and two hits, no earned runs (one unearned), and a FIP of 1.87. Confidence in him is once again growing…
“It’s like a heavyweight boxing match every night,” said Jason Grilli about pitching in the AL East, following Sunday’s shaky final inning. And with the way Grilli has pitched since joining the Jays, both sides are going to end up awfully punch drunk.
That isn’t to say that Grilli hasn’t gotten the job done — because the final results have been quite pretty: just one run allowed over six appearances, and a perfect strand rate until Manny Machado scored on a Pedro Alvarez sac fly in the ninth inning on Sunday, cutting the Jays’ lead to 10-9 — but he’s been doing so by standing in the middle of the ring trading blows with his opponent.
Since coming to the Jays, Grilli has improved both his strikeout and his walk rates from where they were in Atlanta (in a tiny, tiny sample, it must be noted), but that doesn’t mean he’s been great. True, he’s struck out 47.6% of the batters he’s faced since becoming a Blue Jay, but he’s also walked three in just 4.2 innings (14.3%, or 5.8 per nine innings). Aaaand he’s been hit hard, with 50% hard contact rate, and a 50% medium contact rate. Granted, with all the walks and strikeouts, there haven’t exactly been a lot of balls in play to contribute to those samples, but… yikes. That’s not exactly a recipe for success, is it?
Still, though, what else is John Gibbons going to do but ride him until the results dry up? Especially since…
“He’s been hanging a little bit,” said Gibbons on Sunday, in reference to closer Roberto Osuna, according to a Brendan Kennedy tweet. “Nothing major, but we can’t afford to lose him (long term).” MLB.com’s Alykhan Ravjiani added that Gibbons said he was “a little sore” and the club wanted to give him the weekend (i.e. Saturday and Sunday) off. Osuna was fully unavailable on Sunday — leading to the Venditte-Grilli near-shitshow — after having thrown a whole lot of pitches in his outings of late, and certainly looking a little worse for the wear. Hopefully the rest is good for him — and that he gets more in the upcoming forur games with the lowly Phillies — because Gibbons is certainly right: they absolutely need him.
Meanwhile, we’ll go back to Brendan Kennedy, who reports today in the Toronto Star that Jose Bautista is expected to be back in the lineup for the Jays as they open against the Phillies (he’ll DH), though there is currently not a timeline yet for Troy Tulowitzki’s. Tulo, we’re told, “is now eligible to return to the lineup. But after suffering a setback while playing in an extended spring training game on Thursday, the timeline for the veteran shortstop’s return remains murky.” Ugh.
Tulo’s setback, in addition to scuttling (for now) the impossibly dumb debate about whether he should get his job back once healthy (oh, but it’s coming!), has made it a little easier for the Jays to make a roster move to help their embattled bullpen. And according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, that’s going to come in the form of Canadian LHP Scott Diamond. Plan the parade, eh?
No memes or big reads this week, because I spent much of my weekend away from the Twitter and wouldn’t even know where to start with all this just yet! But watch for a Daily (??!??!) Duce later today for all kinds of things to read up on.
Hey, maybe I’ll write something about the draft, too!
Monday vs. Philadelphia, 7:07 PM ET
Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, 12:37 PM ET
Wednesday – Thursday @ Philadelphia, 7:05 PM ET
Friday @ Baltimore, 7:05 PM ET
Saturday @ Baltimore, 4:05 PM ET
Sunday @ Baltimore, 1:35 PM ET
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