A fascinating dispatch from Chris Zelkovich’s Great Canadian Ratings Report for Yahoo, in which he notes that the Jays’ rising tide is lifting Sportsnet’s boat in bigger ways than just with Jays viewers. The third most-watched sporting event over the long weekend (after the two Jays games) was Monday’s Game Three between Boston and Cleveland (listed in the report as being on Sunday, when it was originally scheduled). That’s more than any NFL game watched in Canada over the weekend. And Friday’s game in that series drew 882,000 viewers — the sixth highest number and more than any CFL game played over the weekend. Pay Edwin.
Great, uplifting stuff from Eno Sarris of FanGraphs, who looks at the Jays’ key advantage against Cleveland in the ALCS: the fact that Cleveland made its offensive hay this season against breaking stuff. The Jays opponents were one of the worst teams in the AL in terms of production against fastballs, and the Blue Jays happen to have some very fastball-heavy guys in J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, and Marcus Stroman (if you include sinkers, which the metrics Eno uses do). “Even Marco Estrada, in his own weird way,” fits the profile, we’re told. So… y’know… hopefully that works!
Ahh, but elsewhere at FanGraphs, August Fagerstrom counters that the Jays’ pitchers will give up a whole lot of that supposed advantage because of rather large, shared disadvantage they’ll bring: their inability to control the running game. Cleveland’s running attack is very good, with guys like Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Jason Kipnis all being able to potentially exploit this advantage on the bases.
More great stuff still from FanGraphs, as Craig Edwards looks at Roberto Osuna, who has been the second best Blue Jays player by Win Probability Added this postseason (trailing only Josh Donaldson), and has been used quite progressively by John Gibbons. But… uh… he’s also showing some warning signs, including a plummeting strikeout rate, which coincides with his slider’s ineffectiveness. The pitch generated whiffs 30% of the time over the first five months of the season, but just 10% in September. Osuna has upped his sinker usage though, Edwards notes, so perhaps he’s effectively compensated for the slider trouble. It’s just… man, you’d like to see some more swing and miss when he’s out there, I think.
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star gets you set for tomorrow’s big Game One with five key matchups in the ALCS, while Jeff Blair of Sportsnet looks at six key players for the ALCS — including Melvin Upton, who apparently has done some damage against Andrew Miller in his career, and is therefore someone we might see called upon to face him.
Elsewhere at the Star, Richard Griffin looks at the Jays’ rotation options beyond Marco Estrada (who gets the call in Game One). He suggests Marcus Stroman in Game Two, followed by J.A. Happ and then Aaron Sanchez — whose innings he rightly points out are still being closely monitored, and who would then potentially be available in relief in Game Seven, if needed. Hmmm.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com looks at the series from a “Shapiro Cup” angle, and in the process makes a couple of points that some Jays fans still don’t seem to quite grasp (and the I, evidently, can’t let go of): “In the summer of 2015 — before the Blue Jays even went on their late-season win binge — Shapiro was approached by a Toronto team not only successful in the present tense, but with the long-term ability to become one of the sport’s economic giants,” he writes. “It was an offer Shapiro couldn’t refuse, and so he departed his native organization and his native land to spread his wings north of the border.” Later Castrovince adds that, once he was into the job, “a top-heavy payroll and a farm system thinned by Anthopoulos’ necessary aggression last summer meant rounding out the roster in the sort of low-profile ways that were Shapiro’s operational standard with the Indians.” In other words: stop extrapolating from his years in Cleveland and his first winter here in order to piss and moan that he’s going to be cheap in perpetuity.
Speaking of, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times looks at Shapiro’s development of Cleveland into a feeder system for other clubs throughout the sport, and basically his history as an executive. As you’d expect from Kepner, it’s great stuff.
More on Shapiro from Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail, who at first seemed like maybe he was going to deliver a hit piece, but which wound its way into a thoughtful look at the club president’s first year in charge. (Could have used not furthering the “Cleveland North” nonsense, though.)
Elsewhere in the Globe, Jill Mahoney looks at the Jays’… uh… Tome-team advantage, which apparently means that the Toronto Public Library has been tweeting book-inspired trash talk at the libraries in the cities of the teams facing the Blue Jays. Kinda awesome.
Great stuff, as always, from John Lott, as he debuts at the Athletic with a terrific piece on John Gibbons.
Back to Sportsnet, where we’re given a handy guide through what the Cleveland media (which exists!) has been saying leading up to the start of the ALCS.
Over at BP Toronto, Tammy Rainey gives us a great preview of the Blue Jays’ players who are playing out west in the Arizona Fall League — featuring key prospects like Anthony Alford, Conner Greene, and… uh… some other guys.
Jays Prospects talks to Cavan Biggio, son of Craig, who had an impressive debut season as a pro after being drafted by the Jays back in June.
Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network talks to a bunch of former Blue Jays who are still pulling for their old club.
Lastly, because why the hell not relive it, MLB.com’s Statcast breaks down the Jays’ game-winning play in Game Three of the ALDS against Texas. Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun takes a break from trying desperately to slag those who look down on Cleveland’s nickname and mascot (because doesn’t it suck how we can no longer denigrate entire groups of people with impunity???) and looks specifically at Edwin Encarnacion’s slide — which his teammates worried might have been illegal under the “Utley Rule,” which undid a go-ahead play in Tampa earlier in the season. Josh Donaldson explained: “I looked at Eddie. I said, ‘Please tell me you had a good slide. If you didn’t have a good slide, this is not good. We are not cool right now if you did not have a good slide.’ ” The slide was, of course, good. Or… well… it was at least ruled good.