The Blue jays played FOUR games this weekend. Let’s get into some of the things that mattered:
Saturday: 6-5 loss to Yankees
- Devon Travis played his second game of the spring just one day after he made his first appearance of 2017. Travis was the designated hitter, so he didn’t see any action in the field, obviously, but he clubbed a leadoff double and drove in a run with a single in the seventh inning. The key with Travis in these games, of course, is his knee, which looked fine when he was running the bases. Overall, it’s been about as good of a return for Travis as anybody could have asked for, and so long as things go well the next few days, he’ll be able to start the season with the team, which is fantastic.
- With Travis likely going north with the team out of camp, Ryan Goins is expected to be the odd man out. There isn’t really much he can do about it, unfortunately. Goins clubbed his first homer of the spring off of Adam Warren on Saturday, but it’s hard to imagine the Jays cutting Darwin Barney or, hell, Melvin Upton (more on this later) to fit him on the roster. That said, in Sunday’s game against Baltimore, Goins was drilled in the back with a wild fastball from Jayson Aquino, and had to leave the game. Maaaaaaaybe the Jays could use this as a chance to toss Goins on the 10-day disabled list, giving them a week-and-a-half to slide him through waivers later on when teams are less likely to make a waiver grab? You can say as much as you’d like “LOLOL Goins is bad who cares!” but there’s no doubt the organization values him as a versatile depth player with an excellent glove, and they’d obviously hate to lose him.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia has had himself a quite solid spring, erasing any doubt that he was going to get cut in favour of somebody like Reese McGuire or Juan Graterol. Salty smashed a monster home run off of Adam Warren in the third inning that landed on the roof of whatever the hell that building is out in right field in the Yankees spring training complex. But yeah! Salty! He’s got three homers this spring, which is more than Josh Thole had in four seasons with the Blue Jays.
- In terms of regulars with guaranteed roster spots, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Pillar, and Josh Donaldson all put up goose eggs. Donaldson still doesn’t have a hit through his first eight bats of 2017, but as we know, only good spring stats matter, bad ones can be tossed out the window (unless you’re a whipping boy type player, then you’ll get shit on for it).
- Mat Latos had what was likely his last chance to impress the Blue Jays in spring training, and it went pretty much how his entire spring has gone. The first inning was good, a one-two-three with a bunch of soft contact. Then, in the second and third, he allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, one home run, and one walk. His ERA for the spring is up to 6.75 now, which, uh, isn’t good. He said last week he was down to start the season with Buffalo and work his way up to the team. Many believe he’s best suited to be the team’s sixth starter, because they straight up don’t have anybody who can create any confidence in a spot start role right now, but I see him being better as a reliever, simply because he can actually be good in that role. Latos’ durability is poor and his velocity has dipped considerably, but if he’s only facing a few batters and can go out there guns blazing for like fifteen minutes, he could be effective.
- His competition for the role of long man, sixth starter guy out of the pen, Mike Bolsinger, had a solid outing and seems to be the frontrunner now for the role. Bolsinger tossed three innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while striking out three, facing a good chunk of the Yankees 2017 opening day roster. Bolsinger has had a much better spring than Latos, doesn’t have options, and simply makes more sense in that role right now.
Saturday: 16-0 win over Team Canada Juniors
- With this spring’s embarrassing loss to the listless Team Canada World Baseball Classic squad, aka Freddie Freeman and a group of beer league slow pitch players, fresh in their memory, the Jays split squad kicked the shit out of Team Canada’s Junior squad to even the score.
- The big draw of the game was Vlady Jr. getting the start at third base, which is a cool sight. The Jays top prospect went zero-for-five, but didn’t strike out, which is sort of a positive. But anyways, seeing him in a Jays uniform is an exciting preview of what could be seeing frequently in a couple of years. Also, Bo Bichette, one of last year’s draft’s top picks, drove in a run with a double. He’s an interesting name to watch this year, I figure.
- Fuck it. I’m not going into any detail about this game. It would be asinine to garner any sort of conclusions about a shit-pumping of a bunch of kids.
Sunday: 2-1 loss to Orioles
- I was talking about Goins and how the Jays can figure out a way to not lose him to waivers out of camp earlier, but I wanted to bring him up again because of this interesting tweet from Mike Wilner. According to Wilner, if everybody’s healthy, which seems to be the case right now, the final spot on the roster is between Melvin Upton and Ryan Goins. Upton had a double today in three at bats, but has just a .192 batting average and .586 OPS so far through the spring, which doesn’t inspire much confidence. Wilner went on to say that they wouldn’t outright release Upton if he didn’t make the team, because he has some trade value and they could get something for him. If they did choose Goins and let Upton go, I imagine that means Steve Pearce would be playing quite a bit in left field, because they would be going into the season with Zeke, Jose Bautista, and Kevin Pillar as their only true outfielders, and one of those guys is going to need to see time at DH throughout the year, too. I don’t think Upton is a world-beater, or anything, but he has more value to this roster than Goins does.
- JB Woodman, the Jays second round pick of last year’s draft, was the star of the day on Sunday. He made a nice diving catch in centre field, doing his best Kevin Pillar impression, and he went two-for-three with a couple of singles.
- When a guy who picked up two singles is your star of the day that’s, uh, that’s a bad sign! The team only mustered five hits in total, three of which we’ve already talked about. Justin Smoak had a single, but also struck out twice to kinda offset it, and Juan Graterol had a single as well. The only run the team scored came on a sacrifice by Salty in the first inning that scored Upton.
- In terms of pitching, though, today’s game was quite excellent, Francisco Liriano continued his dominant play, allowing one earned run on two hits and two walks in four-and-two-thirds innings of work, while striking out SEVEN. He’s now up to an absurd 25 strikeouts in 14/ 1/3 innings of work overall, and will get one more start in Montreal before heading into the season.
- Jason Grilli retired the one batter he faced in relief of Liriano, and will pitch tomorrow, his first back-to-back of the spring, while J.P. Howell and Joe Smith each had clean innings, and appear to be well on track to being ready for middle-relief roles on the team come the regular season. The only blemish from the ‘pen came from Tim Mazya, who’s likely worked his way out of the conversation for the final lefty role, as he allowed the winning run on a triple that was immediately cashed in on a sac fly. The problem here is that he allowed a lefty to drive the run in, and then allowed another lefty to smash a single into the outfield immediately after. That’s not good for somebody vying for a lefty specialist role, is it?
Sunday: 4-3 win
- I didn’t actually watch this game, because the Baltimore game seemed more interesting, so I won’t go into too much detail, or anything.
- Casey Lawrence, who, I think (?), is still pushing for that final bullpen spot, had a decent start, allowing two runs on six hits while collecting three strikeouts over five innings of work. He’s had a quite solid spring, proving he can eat a bunch of innings, but I doubt he’s doing enough to warrant making the team over Bolsinger, who would have to go on waivers if he’s cut. It would be ugly asset management. That said, he’s certainly made a name for himself and will go down to Buffalo and have a shot at getting called up at some point in the season if/when there are injuries, which is great for a dude who was apparently close to calling it quits not too long ago.
- Ryan McBroom, a college player drafted in the 15th round (I can’t read, apparently!) of the 2014 draft, sort of labelled as a non-prospect, has low-key had himself a very solid spring, which has likely helped put him on the map in the organization (along with a decent season in Dunedin in 2016). McBroom has a great name, of course, and has three home runs this spring, as he took Bruce Rodon deep in the seventh inning for a two-run shot. Fuck, I’m rooting for this guy because I would love to have a guy on the team named McBroom who mashed at the plate. It’s a perfect fucking name, especially when you’re playing the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. Heyo!