What would happen if the Blue Jays played a season and there were no Griff Bags or Benny Fresh chats for me to hijack?
Not a whole, it turns out, because 2016 has been a season without those sweet, delicious, painful collections of questions from utter dopes. And it’s turned out fine, I guess. Minus just a little slice of magic.
But we do have one other option, and that’s Gregor Chisholm’s Inbox. And while it may be the Griff Bag’s infinitely less bent cousin, and I may actually be mostly giving actual, serious answers here, I hijacked the shit out of his latest one for BlueJays.com anyway.
So let’s do it to it!
Who do you think would start the Wild Card Game if that’s where Toronto finishes?
— Shawn S., Rochester, N.Y.
Even the Jays would have a hard time fucking up their position enough to see them miss the Wild Card play-in game, so it does indeed seem like that’s where they’ll finish. But this one can’t really be answered because it depends entirely on who is available.
As the season comes to a close they could have some significant decisions to make. Right now the rotation is setup to have Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and then Aaron Sanchez pitch in Boston on the weekend. The play-in game is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Jays will want to make sure it’s at Rogers Centre, which may mean choosing to go all out all the way through game 162. In that scenario they would then be forced to choose from Marcus Stroman on regular rest, Francisco Liriano on an extra day of rest, Marco Estrada on short rest, or R.A. Dickey for Tuesday’s all important game. However, it’s not a guarantee that they would choose to go all-out for home field advantage — in fact, it’s probably not even likely. If on Sunday afternoon they’ve already clinched a spot in the play-in game, but have yet to sew up home field advantage, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them turn to R.A. Dickey, in order to save Sanchez for the far more important task.
Ideally it won’t come down to any of that. If the opponent is clearly going to be Detroit, then I’d expect Dickey to pitch Game 162, then Sanchez to handle the play-in game, which would leave Happ setup to pitch Game One of the ALDS on regular rest, with Sanchez pitching Game Three on regular rest. If the opponent will be Baltimore, or if they don’t know but have the luxury to do so, maybe Dickey gets Game 161 and “Charlie Wholestaff” takes Game 162, leaving Happ available to face and Orioles lineup that has struggled badly against left-handed pitching this season (among their regulars only Manny Machado and Joey Rickard have posted a wRC+ above J.J. Hardy’s 104 against lefties; Chris Davis has posted a pedestrian 94 wRC+ in the split, and Wieters, Schoop, Trumbo, Reimold, and Jones all fall between an abysmal 64 and an even more abysmal 46).
In other words, the safe bet is that Sanchez will start the play-in game, but don’t count out the possibility that they’ll set things up for Happ — who, unlike Sanchez, won’t face them in this week’s series — to take on the Orioles.
Who would you use in the eighth inning of the Wild Card Game with the Blue Jays up by one run?
— Desmond, Halifax, Nova Scotia
That’s not a perfect answer, mind you. Stroman is a liiiiiitle too home run prone and relies on his defence a little too much to be viewed as a saviour in the wake of Joaquin Benoit’s injury, but with due respect to Jason Grilli, whose passion and exuberance I love, and who was absolutely vital to the bullpen’s mid-season turnaround, he’s been making me nervous lately. And that’s not just because of the big blow-up on Monday night against the Yankees — it’s also walking guys and getting the hook in two of his previous four outings as well.
And here’s the thing: even though I’ve been arguing of late that Stroman will provide more value to the team in more important situations if he’s moved to the bullpen for the playoffs, rather than having him as the fourth starter, this isn’t even about that. The play-in game falls on Stroman’s day to pitch, so he’d be good to go, and then the Blue Jays wouldn’t need a fourth starter again until Game Four of the ALDS. Which is to say: he could pitch out of the bullpen in the play-in game without impacting his availability to be the fourth starter in the ALDS. (And, of course, if there comes a time in the Division Series when John Gibbons wants to go to again Stroman in relief and go with Francisco Liriano as his Game Four starter, that’d be OK too.)
Mind you, I wouldn’t be upset if they went with Grilli in this kind of scenario, but with his ability to miss bats, and Stroman’s struggles with runners on base, I kind of like the idea of Stroman starting an inning with Grilli waiting in the wings in case something goes wrong, rather than the other way around.
Has R.A. Dickey made his final start for the Blue Jays?
— Joel M., Moncton, New Brunswick
Hopefully not! And probably not. But he’s only got one more in him at most. He’ll be getting the Mark Buehrle treatment come playoff time — a towel to wave and a spot on the bench.
Classy act on part of the Blue Jays to appoint Paul Beeston as president emeritus. Do you see him being actively used in the decision-making process, or is it solely a symbolic move?
— Derek Donati
Devon Travis has been struggling in the field. Wouldn’t it make sense to give Darwin Barney or Ryan Goins a shot given their defensive prowess?
— Ryan W., Ottawa, Ontario
This question is academic at the moment, of course, but yeah… no. No it wouldn’t make anything resembling sense.
What happens if Baltimore and Toronto finish the year tied for the Wild Card spots? Who gets home-field advantage?
— Scott W., Toronto
The Jays’ win over the Orioles on Tuesday night clinched the season series for them, and thus the Wild Card tiebreaker. The Jays hold the tiebreaker over Detroit as well. Because they’ve been good against good teams and shitty against shitty teams all fucking frustrating season! They are 31-28 against teams with records below .500 and 56-42 against teams at .500 and above.
I know that it’s a long shot, but don’t you think people are giving up on the division a little too quickly?
— Mike, Burlington, Ontario
I’ll give you a break on this because your question was written, like, a week ago, but no. I think that ship has all but sailed. It was time for us to reset our expectations and start steeling ourselves for the one-and-done play-in game. Stupid Red Sox being so damn good, eh?