Game Threat: Sanchez strategically optioned, Toronto looks for season series win — Blue Jays (70-53) vs Cleveland (70-51)

See?! That’s baseball, for ya! After blowing a one-run lead in the ninth inning of Friday’s game, Roberto Osuna got a chance to redeem himself in a virtually identical situation. And he did good! 

In the process, he put the Jays in a position to not only win the series this weekend, but also the season series overall with Cleveland, which, if in the event of the two teams having the same record, would give whoever wins today’s game home field advantage in a playoff series. But first, we need to talk about Aaron Sanchez. 

News and Scuttlebutt 

WooooooAAAHHH!!!!! Holy shit, wow! After one bad inning, they send him down, the fuck, Shatkins?!

But actually, Aaron Sanchez has been demoted to Single-A Dunedin in order to free up a roster spot for the Jays to add an extra arm to their bullpen, which has been taxed pretty heavily over the past couple of games. Apparently they tossed around the idea of skipping one of his starts in August, and ultimately decided now would be a good time to do so, possibly because they’ll be playing two basement teams in the Angels and Twins over the next week. 

Regardless of the reason for doing it right now specifically, there’s no reason to panic or be upset about the move. We all knew when it was announced that Sanchez would in fact stick as a starter and the team would roll with a six-man rotation that the team would look to skip some of his starts here and there to keep his workload down. And if he’s going to be skipped, there’s really no reason to keep him on the roster, so what the Jays are doing here is the most advantageous way to handle the situation. 

Also, one more thing to mention: As Minor Leaguer Tweeted, Sanchez is sacrificing a decent amount of cash to take this demotion, which says a lot about his character and his willingness to put the team first when they’re in a critical situation and are trying to maximize their roster. Pat on the back, Aaron! 

And yes, you’re reading that right. In the loss column in former Blue Jays blue chip prospect Jeff Hoffman, who was they key prospect sent to Colorado in last summer’s blockbuster Troy Tulowitzki deal. Hoffman, who has been dominant in Triple-A this season, made his debut against the Chicago Cubs yesterday, and, uh, well, had a rough time. After three scoreless innings to kick things off, Hoffman got tagged for three runs in the fourth, and four more runs in the fifth before he could record an out. His final line was four innings, seven hits, one walk, seven runs, six earned, and two strikouts. Pitching for the Rockies, man. No fun. 

Today 

Blue Jays: Devon Travis 2B, Josh Donaldson 3B, Edwin Encarnacion 1B, Russell Martin C, Troy Tulowitzki DH, Michael Saunders RF, Melvin Upton CF, Zeke Carrera LF, Ryan Goins SS

Marcus Stroman: 9-5, 4.63 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.289 WHIP, 9.4 H9, 2.2 BB9, 7.4 SO9

Cleveland: Carlos Santana 1B, Jason Kipnis DH, Fransisco Lindor SS, Jose Ramirez 3B, Lonnie Chissenhall RF, Abraham Almonte LF, Tyler Naquin CF, Roberto Perez C, Michael Martinez 2B

Corey Kluber: 13-8, 3.15 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 1.025 WHIP, 7.1 H9, 2.1 BB9, 9.0 SO9

The Jays and Clevelanders will play today not only for the weekend series win, but also the season series, as so far the two teams have been neck-and-neck in their six games this year. Cleveland won the first two meetings, which included the 19-inning marathon on Canada Day, the Jays won the next two immediately after, including a 17-1 hammering, then, of course, they’ve split the last two games in Cleveland. This may not seem like much of a big deal, but considering where each team sits in the standings, it could ultimately decide, in the case of a tie in records, which team gets home field advantage in the playoffs. And the way things are looking, if the Jays want to make it out of the American League this October, they’re likely going to have to go through Cleveland, so having an extra game in Toronto would be huge. 

Speaking of that 17-1 explosion, that was Corey Kluber’s last bad start of the season. Since then, he’s been arguably the league’s best starting pitcher, as he’s tossed at least six innings in those last seven starts while not surrendering more than three earned runs in any of them. When he got shelled by the Jays, his struggles were largely do to an excellent plate approach by Toronto’s lineup, as the team not only managed four walks, but also made Kulber toss 95 pitches by the time the fourth inning rolled around.

On the opposite side of that, Marcus Stroman had an excellent start when the Jays and Clevelanders squared off back in June. Unfortunately for him, it was on the Canada Day game where the lineup in front of him couldn’t buy a run. Anyways, Stroman has started to look like the breakout pitcher that we expected he would be this season over the past few games. He’s made an adjustment to use his fastball more, which is good, because his breaking stuff was being pounded all over the place earlier on when he was having trouble.