The Daily Duce: Wednesday, August 10th

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Daily??!???!?

Oh, wait. This actually is the second day in a row with a Duce! Don’t get spoiled here, but I should probably do these more — it just means they might be smaller than usual, which… why is it my reflex to feel like that’s a bad thing? I don’t know! Let’s just Duce it up. The Duce is loose. Um… etc…

Jose Bautista is not in the Jays’ lineup tonight, though there is no word yet — as of the time of this writing — on the reason. He did seem to catch a cleat on the turf in Tuesday’s loss and maybe was suffering a bit of pain from that (especially considering his recent bout of “turf toe”), though I don’t even know if it was the same foot that was injured. Could just be a maintenance day — he could probably use it — but we’ll see…

Meanwhile, Ryan Tepera was called up from Buffalo here on Wednesday to take the place of Danny Barnes, who was not quite so scintillating last night as he was in his debut, and struggled to generate the kind of swing-and-miss that was his calling card as a minor leaguer. I don’t think it’s a huge indictment of him or anything, though; it was one inning and with Scott Feldman unavailable tonight after labouring through a couple innings, it might be entirely about using a guy who can be optioned in order to bring in a fresh arm — something the Jays will likely continue to do until their September call-ups arrive. For what it’s worth, 2080 Baseball seemed impressed with Barnes’ work in the minors, when writing about this week’s minor league debutantes.

Tepera, Ben Wagner of the Bisons radio team tweets, has closed out his last 17 straight save opportunities in Buffalo. So… that’s something.

Speaking of last night’s game, holy shit, that could have gone better. But few sentiments about it could have gone better than the one tweeted by our great weekend editor, Cam Lewis. He wrote, “Just think: If this team could bunt and play fundamental ball Feldman wouldn’t have allowed those runs and my wife wouldn’t have left and…”

Seriously, I know the defence was sloppy, and I know Jose is now clearly miscast as an outfielder and Melvin Upton is well on his way to being thoroughly loathed by the negative, lemon-sucking squids who want everybody around them to hate life as much as they do (and maybe not entirely unjustifiably), but let’s relax. And let’s especially quit the nonsense pining for small ball and caterwauling about fundamentals in the direction of a first place team. I know strikeouts make certain poor fans just so angry inside, and some guys aren’t looking so great right now, and watching sloppy defence is kinda the worst, but that’s no excuse for ignoring the big picture. Plus, if Troy Tulowitzki had connected just a little more squarely on that ball with the bases loaded in whichever inning it was when that happened, the game probably has a wholly different outcome.

Speaking of things we’d like to have turned out better: Marco Estrada’s night. Once again he didn’t look quite right, lasting only five innings and taking 113 pitches to get there, He spoke to reporters after the game, including Gregor Chisholm of BlueJays.com, about how he felt “rusty” and felt that the six-man rotation the Jays are now using had been a little disruptive to his routine. I don’t think we should discount the routine stuff entirely here, but… let’s be serious. The Jays rarely, if ever, have skipped their fifth starter because of off-days this year, meaning that Estrada has pitched on five days rest nine times this season, and on six or more days rest three times. Granted he has been at his best when on regular rest (i.e. four days) — opponents have a .547 OPS in that split, compared to a .640 OPS when he’s rested five days — but still, more than half of his starts in a terrific, terrific season have come on extra rest. Let’s not make too much of it.

Then again, John Lott looks into the concept in an excellent piece at Vice Sports, showing that it’s not just Estrada who has been better on four days rest than on five or more this season — it’s been just about all of the Jays’ starters.

At Sportsnet, the Tao Of Stieb looks at the six-man rotation as well, at first though the prism of Earl Weaver (who would have hated it), but then as it applies to the Jays right now — which he feels can work. It will until it doesn’t, at least!

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Mike Wilner explains how August trades work, and how the Jays might be involved with them this year. The link includes a video of Jon Morosi talking about the possibility of the club bringing back Adam Lind in such a way — though he says his sense is that the Jays aren’t particularly serious about it. That is exactly what I’d say, too. I’m entirely guessing at this, but I doubt it was only Alex Anthopoulos who became less than thrilled with Lind by the end of his tenure here.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star takes a look at the AL MVP race, which right now Josh Donaldson is in the thick of, though Griff doesn’t at this point see him as the favourite.

Lastly, some stuff on Devon Travis being awesome! Over at Jays Journal, Keegan Matheson takes a look at the trade that brought Travis to Toronto for Anthony Gose, calling it (correctly) a deal that the Blue Jays have already undeniably won. Meanwhile, Greg Wisniewski of BP Toronto goes pitch-by-pitch through Devo’s epic tilt with Carlos Villanueva of the Padres in the 12th inning back on July 26th. It was a hell of a hard fought walk.

And actually lastly (sorta), August Fagerstrom of FanGraphs tries to prevent the “inevitable underrating” of Devon Travis, by showing (among other things) that he’s been he best second baseman in the big leagues when his contributions are considered at their per plate-appearance rates. In other words, though he hasn’t had the playing time to accumulate the same kind of WAR as star second basemen like Jose Altuve, Ian Kinsler, or Jason Kipnis, Travis has actually had a better season than them when he has been on the field.

Our friend GROF did some tweeting on this and I think rather astutely added this to the discussion: “Staunch in my belief of Devon Travis as I am, I DO caution against stitching smallish samples together. Full trips around the league matter.”

He’s right, of course, but still! Devo is killing it!

Hey, and for real lastly this time, speaking of GROF, I don’t know if I’ve yet linked his outstanding piece on the Aaron Sanchez decision/situation from over at Ghostrunner on First last week, so… there it is. Now go read it!