Game Threat: There’s no better remedy for a cold streak than a visit from Minnesota Twins, Blue Jays (72-56) vs Twins (49-79)

Last night, the Minnesota Twins crept into Rogers Centre for the first time since last August where they were kicked in the head so hard that not only was their season guttered, but they fell into oblivion the following year too. Remember that? The Twins were in a playoff spot last August before the Jays dragged them out of it and threw them into orbit, and since then, they have a nice but not nice .420 winning percentage. Damn!

Anyways, last night represented much of what Minnesota’s reality has become this past year. The Blue Jays exploded for 15 runs against the Twins and their merry band of pitchers that nobody has ever heard of, which was enough to completely overshadow the fact that they let the Twins lineup score eight of their own! 

Today will most certainly be less of a home run derby, as Marcus Stroman, who’s been one of baseball’s best starters over the past month or so will face Ervin Santana, the guy who almost became a Blue Jay at the trade deadline.

Oh yeah! And Dioner Navarro is back! Now what the hell is going to happen to Josh Thole?!?

Yesterday 


Source: FanGraphs

Runs! Yes! Thank you! After a hideous series in which they dropped two of three games to the Los Angeles Mike Trout and the Junk of Anaheim That Surrounds Him the Jays exploded yesterday and pounded the living crap out of the Minnesota Twins pitching. 

Fransisco Liriano had a pretty strange start, surrendering four runs (three earned) over five innings despite the fact he only allowed two hits. Liriano’s issues came from a lack of command, as he managed to walk four Twins, and some timely hitting from Minnesota. 

Oh well, he didn’t have to be sharp anyway, because like I said, the Jays pounded Matt? James? Pat? Dean, Andrew Albers, Pat Light, and the other random lucky fans from the audience (probably named Pat) that the Twins chose in a raffle before the game to pitch in relief. 

Justin Smoak clubbed a three-run home run in the second inning for his first homer since August 10, Russell Martin hit a bases clearing double in the sixth and a two-run homer in the seventh, and Josh Donaldson and Darwin Barney both homered to lead the onslaught. 

More games like this, please! 

News and Scuttlebutt 

It’s Dinner Time! The Blue Jays sent a minor league pitcher, Colton Turner, who’s 25 years old, was drafted back in 2012, and owns a 1.33 ERA this season between Lansing, Dunedin, and New Hampshire, to the White Sox in exchange for Dioner Navarro, who spent 2014 and 2015 with the team. 

Navarro hasn’t had a very memorable season in Chicago, slashing a .210/.267/.339 line, which is significantly worse than both his career average and the numbers he produced in 712 plate appearances with Toronto. Still, though, he’s an upgrade over current backup catcher Josh Thole and third-string catcher Erik Kratz, was a very popular player in the clubhouse, and provides an extra switch-hitting bat off the bench. 

John Lott wrote about the deal last night, what it means for the team’s roster, current backup catcher Josh Thole, and how the players and coaches on the team were thrilled to find out their former teammate was going to be back for another run. 

It isn’t certain what’s going to happen yet, but as Lott suggested in the article I linked above, Navarro has three days to report to the team, meaning Josh Thole can catch R.A. Dickey on Sunday afternoon, then the team can release him, and sign him to a new deal after the rosters expand on Sept. 1. 

That said, Mike Wilner also said on Twitter that Ross Atkins indicated that Thole would be DFA’d after Sunday’s game to make room for Navarro, meaning he could possibly be claimed. Uh, wait a second. Why are we actually worrying about Josh Thole getting claimed on waivers?!

Speaking of roster moves, there’s an interesting article over at Baseball Prospectus Toronto that goes over some possible players who could be added to the Jays bench on Sept. 1 when the rosters expand. Names like Bo Schultz, Ryan Tepera, Andy Burns, and Ryan Goins are fairly obvious ones, but the article also discusses where Dalton Pompey stands in all of this, whether the team would bother bringing up Chris Colabello and his .202 Triple-A batting average, and the possibility of Jesus Montero getting the call. 

Today 

Blue Jays: 

Marcus Stroman: 9-5, 4.47 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 9.3 H9, 2.2 BB9, 7.5 SO9

Twins:

Ervin Santana: 6-10, 3.33 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 1.187 WHIP, 8.5 H9, 2.2 BB9, 7.0 SO9

After a terrible stretch from the middle of May until the end of June in which people were demanding he be demoted to the minor leagues, Marcus Stroman has started to look like the staff ace that we saw break out during the stretch run last fall. His recent stretch has been so good that it prompted Mike Podhorzer over at Roto Graphs to put out an article asking whether Stroman is the best pitcher in baseball right now. 

I mean, sure! I’ll take it! The article talks about Stroman’s recent stretch of dominance in which he’s reminding everyone why they were so excited about him in the first place. Since June 14, he’s made 12 starts, some of them good, some decent, and some terrible. But over that time, he’s striking out 25.2 per cent of the batters he’s facing, walking virtually nobody, and he’s getting a ridiculous 61.5 per cent ground ball rate. It’s all in the article. Give it a read if you want to feel good about the ace that many of us forgot about. 

Anyways, Stroman has had one start this season already against the Twins, and it was one of his best. He tossed seven-and-two-thirds innings while surrendering only one run on three hits. And based on the way he’s been going recently, I think we can expect another excellent performance. On the other side, we’ll see a familiar face in Ervin Santana, who apparently almost became a Blue Jay back at the end of July. Santana has actually been quite good this season, and has enjoyed a stretch recently where he hasn’t allowed more than two runs or thrown fewer than six innings in six consecutive starts.