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The Blue Jays (Sort Of) Played a Game Today: Notes on Mat Latos, Justin Smoak, and more

The Blue Jays were dropped 3-2 to the Devil Rays in what was a game featuring a bunch of mediocre pitchers completely dominating a bunch of random hitters you’ve never heard of. Spring, baby.

  • Mat Latos got the start today, and probably had his best go of the spring. He threw three-and-two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on one hit and two walks while collecting three strikeouts. The one hit, unfortunately happened to be a two-run bomb by Tampa’s hot prospect Jake Bauers, who’s been tearing the cover off the ball all spring.
  • The more interesting note on Latos from the day, though, was that Arash Madani reported he would be willing to accept a demotion to Triple-A Buffalo out of spring, as his contract has an opt-out clause if he doesn’t make the team. This is a good thing for the Jays because it gives them more flexibility out of camp in regards to dealing with their pitchers who don’t have options, as they now don’t have to worry about completely losing Latos if they don’t bring him north.
  • That also brought forward another discussion, which was whether Latos projects more valuable to the team as a reliever or as the sixth starter in Buffalo. On the surface, it makes the most sense to use Latos as the sixth starter, because he actually has big league experience and the Jays have bullpen depth. But looking beyond need, Latos could actually impact the team as a reliever. He’s been terrible as a starter the past few seasons largely because his velocity has completely cratered. But if he’s coming out of the ‘pen and only tossing an inning or two, he could actually be effective. Is that more worthwhile than having a bad starter in Triple-A available in case of injury? Is the difference between Latos as a starter and, say, Casey Lawrence in that role as big as the possible lightning in a bottle that could be Latos as a reliever? Am I talking out of my ass right now? Am I actually worrying about the Bisons’ No. 1 starter? Can the regular season please start yet? 
  • Overall it was a very solid day for Blue Jays pitching. Through nine innings, they only allowed four hits, unfortunately, though, three of them were for extra bases. But anyways, Latos, as I said, had a good outing, Jason Grilli was tagged for a run on a couple hits, and Jeff Beliveau, Danny Barnes, Joe Smith, Chad Girodo, and Leonel Campos combined for five-and-one-third clean innings to close out the game. Pitching depth, damn, it’s a nice thing to have.
  • Justin Smoak had another walk today, and has looked much, much better at the plate than he did at the beginning of spring when he was whiffing at everything thrown in his direction. In his first 15 at bats of spring, Smoak struck out seven times and didn’t walk once. Since then, he’s had 18 at bats, and he’s cut the strikeouts down to three and has raised the walks to five. That’s promising stuff, right?! I don’t think Smoak is randomly, at the age of 30, going to figure things out and become a solid hitter, or anything. He’s still going to be a free swinger who whiffs often and can’t hit anything that breaks who occasionally runs into one and clubs it 420 feet, but his improved approach the past few games has been a nice sight nonetheless.
  • Both Melvin Upton and Zeke Carrera, our outfield platoon, were scratched before the game due to injury. As a result, some hack who runs a fake Ken Rosenthal account tweeted that Upton had been dealt to the Angles for CJ Cron. How the fuck do people fall for these?! Please, for the love of fuck, check for the blue checkmark next to the name. It isn’t that hard!