Bless those Red Sox!
No, really. The Jays can’t seem to get out of their own way and create some distance in the AL East race, but when opportunity presented itself for Boston on Sunday and Monday they failed to catch up, despite having games against the lowly A’s and Padres. The Jays still lead the AL East by a game, and at 6-4 over their last ten have somehow played better than the 5-5 Red Sox. That’ll do!
Cue obligatory crowing about how good teams sometimes lose to bad ones. Boston managed just one run over the two loses to these also-rans, and not to belabour a point that I feel compelled to make far, far too often, but if the Jays had done that people would going off the goddamned deep end. We all know that Boston didn’t suddenly get any less scary. Baseball is a funny game sometimes.
Here’s something that might *actually* make the Red Sox seem a little less scary, though: their schedule. They have just ten home games left, compared to the Jays’ 13, and once they get out of San Diego the task looks awfully tough. Boston visits the Jays this weekend, then hosts Baltimore and New York next week before playing series in Baltimore, in Tampa, and in the Bronx, then finishing with the Jays at Fenway.
I can live with that. The Jays just have to take care of their own damn business.
What do you meme?
Of course, when Boston’s manager is around, routine baseball moves seem to get sucked into the upside down…
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) September 5, 2016
(Yes, I’m using my own tweet here — sue me!)
R.A. Dickey had an extraordinary second half in 2015, which ended with him justifiably being a part of the Blue Jays’ postseason rotation, and to an extent continued into 2016 as well. So much is made about David Price and the big offence that led to the Jays curb-stomping their way through baseball in the second half of last year, but Dickey was a bigger piece of that than I think a lot of people realize. He posted a 2.80 ERA in after the 2015 All-Star break. In his All-Star season in the NL in 2012 his ERA was 2.73.
The strikeout rate wasn’t 2012-like, but he walked almost nobody, kept the ball in the ballpark (8 HR over 99.2 innings), and held opponents to a .224/.265/.345 line.
I probably don’t have to tell you that Dickey’s second half here in 2016 hasn’t gone nearly so smoothly. It’s only 47.2 innings so far, but his ERA is a gaudy 6.23 since the break — a point at which it stood at a respectable 3.39. He’s given up eight home run in *that* span this year, and has walked over 10% of the batters he’s faced, up from 6.9% last season, and 5.8% when he took home the Cy Young award. The Jays need his innings, and he’s a better pitcher than what he’s shown, but you wonder if somebody like Drew Hutchison was still in the organization he might be taking a whole bunch of starts away from Dickey down the stretch. I don’t think the Jays are ready to do a thing like that just yet, but the .271/.360/.463 line opposing batters have put up against him since the break is not real tenable. And though there have been some real nice starts in that sample, with his career with the Blue Jays winding down — as an impending free agent he’ll surely be elsewhere, likely the National League, next season — it wouldn’t shock me if something were eventually to give here.
Then again, maybe I’m falling into the trap that all the Dickey whiners do. It’s just… three of his last five starts have lasted five innings or less. If his primary job is “innings-eater” that’s… not good.
* * *
Over the last 14 days the Jays have been the sixth best offence in baseball by wRC+ and the fourth best in the AL. Over the last 30 days they’re seventh in baseball and fourth in the American League. Not exactly elite numbers anybody should be writing home about, and not as good as I think we all think they should be, but… yeah, they’re fine.
Hey, so it turns out yours truly and my good friend an co-host Drew Fairservice are stepping up our game for the September stretch drive and, god willing, the playoffs. We’ll now be bringing two podcasts per week to you — the big show, which we typically record on Thursday nights, and a mini episode early in the week. Here’s the debut mini ‘sode!
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Did I mention that game one in New York didn’t go so well? Uh… because it didn’t. Nor did the series in Tampa, almost right to the very end. But the Jays have two more chances to get things right, and then an off-day before The Big One. Or the big-ish one, at least. Boston comes to the Rogers Centre on the weekend to begin a string of thirteen straight games for the Jays, which will see them also host Tampa Bay, then go to Anaheim and Seattle. After that it’s the *actual* big one: four at home with the Yankees, followed by three with the Orioles, and then a potentially titanic finish in Fenway. Things are getting good! By which I mean scary. By which I mean good!
Tuesday – Wednesday @ New York (AL), 7:05 PM ET
Thursday – Off
Friday vs. Boston, 7:07 PM ET
Saturday – Sunday vs. Boston, 1:07 PM ET
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