Weekend Wrap: The Steamed About Cleveland Edition

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A deep-ish dig into the numbers and performances and whatever else that was fun from the past weekend of Toronto Blue Jays baseball (probably), brought to you by Draft Kings — get your Daily Fantasy Sports on at Draft Kings!

First, a note to Cleveland…

Ho ho ho, I have fun on the internet sometimes, don’t I? Case in point: on Sunday I upset a few folks in Cleveland after the Jays pissed away a second game within the span of 48 hours, tweeting “Series against this shitty team again in October plz”.

This, it turns out, did not go over well in northeastern Ohio! Which, of course, was partly the point.

An especially hearty kudos goes out to those who responded with things like, “u mad?” because… uh… yeah, I was! Obviously. Which isn’t to say that I don’t think this Cleveland team is overachieving in a trash division, or that I believe in the years that guys like Tyler Naquin, or Jose Ramirez, or Mike Napoli (his highest ISO since 2011!), or Lonnie Chisenhall, or Rajai Davis are having. Because while “shitty” is obviously just dumb pseudo-provocative chirping for the sake of hearing my own voice, and Cleveland’s rotation is scary as hell, I *do* legitimately welcome a playoff series with them! And not just because the games these two teams have played this season have been fun as hell — provided you don’t dwell too much on the results — though it certainly doesn’t hurt.

But the results thing is kind of the other part of what I was getting at! As cute as it was that Cleveland fans were insisting on Sunday that I “check the scoreboard” and pay closer attention to the Jays’ 3-4 record against them before I denigrate their “shitty” team, to get three of those four victories they needed an unfathomable implosion from the Jays in the bottom of the 9th on Friday, a gut punch of loss in the eighth inning on Sunday, and a 19-inning loss on Canada Day that could have gone the other way several times.

Sour grapes? For sure! But the Jays very easily might have ended the season series 6-1, and probably *should* have. Bring it.

Now let’s never speak of the end of those games again.

Performance notes…

It’s not a great idea to try to make too much of just three starts either way, but if Francisco Liriano had looked shaky once again on Sunday, we would certainly be having a much more uncomfortable conversation about him right now. As it is, there are some positive signs to take from what he’s done so far: though his strikeout rate is down slightly, he’s nearly halved his walk rate, he’s done better at keeping the ball in the ballpark (two home runs against through three starts, compared to 19 homers in his prior 21), and has already (technically) been a half win better in Toronto than he was in Pittsburgh (0.2 WAR compared to -0.3). Not that there was really much of a chance he might have pitched his way out of the rotation — the club does owe him $13-million for next season, after all — but at least we don’t even have to think about talking about it right now. Let it roll…

* * *

Is Marcus Stroman all the way back? It still feels like tempting fate to think it, but it’s certainly starting to look that way. Consider his big hiccup in the middle of the season: over eight starts, from his disaster against Tampa on May 17th until he allowed four runs through five innings against the White Sox in Chicago on June 26th, things got way ugly. Stroman allowed 38 earned runs through just 45.1 innings. He gave up 67 hits and struck out just 30 in that span, while also walking 16. That’s a 7.54 ERA, with a K/9 under six, and a BB/9 of 3.18.

Though he’s thrown a couple duds since then, the nine starts that followed have been startingly better: 59.2 innnings, 64 Ks, just 20 earned runs, 54 hits, and an impressive 8 walks.

* * *

Not like anybody needs this pointed out, but holy shit the week Russell Martin was having before Sunday’s tough day at the plate! Over six games he came to the plate 26 times, ending up with two walks and 12 hits, one of which were doubles and six of which — six! — were home runs. He slashed .500/.538/1.292 over that span; good for a wRC+ of 382. Insanity!

Because I have to…

I heard a lot of groaning about Brett Cecil after what happened on Sunday — and, to be fair, I think even before it happened, given the low confidence fans have in him at this point. And it’s true, Cecil has had an up and down season, failing to look like the ridiculously automatic guy he was for the final four months of last season. But here’s the thing: heading into Sunday, since giving up three runs in Arizona in his third game coming out of the All-Star break, Cecil had been pretty damned good. Over twelve appearances he had allowed just three hits and three walks, striking out 12 in 9.2 innings, and allowing just one run.

People will complain about Cecil’s appearance because Stroman had been cruising and was only at 100 pitches, but having the lefty Kipnis face Stroman for the fourth time, then having Lindor bat from the left side (where he has a 120 wRC+ on the season, compared to 108 as a right-handed hitter)? It made all the sense why John Gibbons did what he did there.

What do you meme?

Hey, the Jays got their own rally mantis! (Kill it).

Up next…

Hey, it’s a visit from Mike Trout and his godawful Angels teammates, then the Twins and… whoever plays for the Twins these days.

Monday – Off

Tuesday – Thursday vs. Angels, 7:07 PM ET

Friday vs. Twins, 7:07 PM ET

Saturday – Sunday vs. Twins, 1:07 PM ET

I joke, but the Jays had better take care of this one, because after this the real stretch run begins: a trip to Baltimore, Tampa, and New York, then it’s a visit from the Red Sox and Rays, a west coast trip to Anaheim and Seattle, a visit from the Yankees and Baltimore, before they finish the season at Fenway.

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