The Blue Jays Played a Game Today (Sort Of): Thursday, March 2nd

Image and the fact that the Phillies used to kinda be the Blue Jays via Todd Radom

The “Blue Jays” and the “Phillies” played a game of “baseball” today, which ended in an 8-8 tie.

If there ever was a game of baseball played to an 8-8 tie today between the Blue Jays and the Phillies, this was almost certainly it.

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Some thoughts!

If you’re like me, for one, congratulations (for stealing Parkes’s joke from 2008). And for two, you probably still can’t quite shake the notion that J.A. Happ, who made his Spring 2017 debut for the Jays today, is going to turn back into a pumpkin at some point.

“Yeah, he was outstanding in Pittsburgh at the end of 2015, and yeah, he had a really good season for the Jays,” you might say, “but was it that good?”

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I get it. How much of how great we think Happ was last year ends up going back to the fact that his record was 20-4? How good was he really?

The answer is: yeah… actually pretty fucking good!

And what I’m encouraged most about it, apart from the fact that we now have that much more data telling us J.A. Happ is actually good, is how he got stronger in the second half of the year.

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From July 1st onward he pitched to a 2.64 ERA over 95.1 innings, striking out 94, and holding opponents to a .214 average. Yes, yes, there’s a lot of noise in numbers like ERA and average, and a lot of stuff Happ couldn’t control, but still! His 24.3% strikeout rate over the season’s final three months looks especially better than the 16.9% rate he’d posted from April through the end of June, and his FIP dropped from 4.48 to 3.41.

Did we realize Happ was that much better in the second half? Or, y’know, did it take me adding a couple of brilliant starts at the start of July, before the All-Star break, to really make those numbers shine? *COUGH*.

Anywho… Happ looked fine today and I’m definitely not just salvaging a bunch of stuff I wrote about Happ before I realized your boy Cam Lewis had already done a Game Threat.

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  • Justin Smoak can’t even hit higher than sixth in this lineup? LOL. 
  • It’s ridiculous to make more than nothing of a handful of plate appearances this early in the spring, but it really does seem as though Justin Smoak is bad and Rowdy Tellez is good. AM I WRONG???
  • Smoak went two-for-three today. That is, if you count at-bats in which he didn’t strike out as hits. Smoakey can’t be defined by your “traditional” numbers! But if he could it would be 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
  • Tellez — who is much less Smoak’s competition than Steve Pearce is, but with there being a non-zero chance of Smoak having to cover for Devon Travis at second base to start the year (or, *GUFFAW*, playing the outfield), maybe??? — tied the game with an RBI single in the ninth. 

  • Moving on to stuff that matters more than this little slice of invented drama: José Bautista crushed a home run in the fifth inning off of… some shitbag Phillies pitcher. Jos-[ALT-0233]! Jos-[ALT-0233]! Jos-[ALT-0233]!

  • Russell Martin was in the broadcast booth with Mike Wilner and Benny Fresh at the time (so… he’d probably know who the pitcher was), and was positively Tulo-esque in his comments. When your best players are your true leaders, that’s probably pretty alright for the team.

  • At one point Martin said that José Bautista is the hardest working guy he knows. No word on whether Josh Donaldson was, at the same time, rocking back and forth mumbling “just one more year” over and over to himself.
  • Anthony Alford also went deep (off some Phillies shitbag), clubbing what Mike Wilner described as a “no-doubt, opposite field home run.” Dalton Pompey had a day at the plate, too, starting a ninth inning rally with a hit and scoring a pair of runs on that hit and a walk. Kendrys did the kind of Kendrys things that I’m starting to think Kendrys is going to be doing all year. Something something Kevin Pillar. And Salty… looked like a backup catcher at the plate.
  • Brett Oberholtzer is gonna look real good in Buffalo. Or maybe not even.
  • More pitching stuff: Roberto Osuna: Still a boss. Move over Charlie Sheen (and Aaron Sanchez), because Conner Greene’s best friend is the radar gun right now — he doesn’t have a whole lot else going on for him, results wise (though everybody seems excited by the way he’s filling out, physically). Aaron Loup wasn’t awful like the last time. T.J. House didn’t do himself any favours (unless getting the fucking TJ Maxx jingle stuck in my head does something for him). Aaaand Dermody and Barnes pitched, but didn’t get the kind of glowing reviews from the broadcast booth that yesterday’s entrant in the Second Bullpen Lefty competition, Tim Mayza, did. (Speaking of Mayza, the Jays are pretty keen on him, too.)