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Daily Duce: Tuesday, May 16th

Daily??!?!?

Great stuff from Joshua Howsam of BP Toronto, as he looks at just how the hell Justin Smoak has had such a hot start to the season and whether it’s sustainable. Another great one from BP Toronto came before the weekend, as Dave Church looked at a resurgent Roberto Osuna, who is (finally) starting to look like his old self again.

Speaking of Smoak (which… weren’t we?), Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun talks to the suddenly lovable first baseman about hitting against the shift, and how he’s been dealing with it.

And it’s more Smoak stuff! Damien Cox, for some reason, writes in the Toronto Star about Smoak’s hot start. For those of you wondering, yes, he did manage to shoehorn in a hockey reference.

Elsewhere at the Star, Richard Griffin sees light at the end of the tunnel for these slow-starting Jays, and he talks to Ross Atkins about the state of the Blue Jays, at the state of MLB’s new 10-day DL. Elsewhere still, Laura Armstrong tells us about “Air Maile” — catcher Luke Maile’s outstanding arm.

As always, John Lott brings the goods for the Athletic, telling us this time about today’s starter, the great Marco Estrada — who seems to only get better with age.

Oh, was it some kind of anniversary yesterday? I guess we’d better acknowledge it:

Speaking of the pissbaby Rangers, David Singh of Sportsnet grabs a quote from Rougie Odor about the infamous punch, and apparently he doesn’t revel in it like all the shitbag Rangers fans who have no actual history to celebrate beyond a couple overrated ballplayers fist-punching people. “It’s something I never want to think about,” Odor said. Probably feels guilty for how he tried to throw that ball right into JosĂ©’s oncoming fucking face. (Or maybe that his weak-ass punch couldn’t even knock the guy down.)

Also at Sportsnet, Jeff Blair looks at the coming to life of Devon Travis, who lost weight over the winter in part to help “baby his knees and make his recovery faster,” and is perhaps now truly getting his strength back. Whatever it is, with Tulo returning quickly to health, Travis has put his offence together just in the nick of time to spare us a whole mess of Ryan Goins should be a starter garbage takes.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at the Jays’ bullpen — and Ryan Tepera, in particular — and the key role they’ve played in the clubs recent not quite all the way there yet but almost can call it a turnaround.

 

Mark Colley of Bluebird Banter has a great interview with Jays bat boy John Neglia. And elsewhere at BBB, Matt Gross looks at how bad the production has been from Blue Jays catchers not named Russell Martin. Yep. Backup catchers are bad. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before! Though let’s be clear, at the plate, so far Luke Maile has been especially bad (his wRC+ is -62, which seems damn near impossible). And there isn’t a whole lot in his track record to suggest it’s going to get that much better. But he at least is a good defender and, y’know, at least we can take comfort in the fact that — again — they’re all bad.

There’s maybe some hope for Jays backup catchers yet, though, as Chris Mitchell of FanGraphs looks at their KATOH projection system’s most improved hitting prospects so far in 2017, and oh man, Mike Ohlman makes the list. “Previously an organizational catcher with a touch of power, Ohlman has found new life with the Blue Jays this year,” he explains. “He hit .246/.388/.594 at Triple-A, which has earned him a promotion to the big club. His 33% strikeout rate is a cause for concern, but the power and walks lead KATOH to believe he belongs in the big leagues.”

Elsewhere at FanGraphs, a look at (and talks to!) Lansing’s OBP machine Jake Thomas, who has drawn 27 walks in 84 plate appearances so far (!!?!?). Add those to his 17 hits, and you get freaky slash line of .315/.536/.407. At 23 he’s a little old for the league (his teammates, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are 18 and 19 respectively), but he sure seems to have figured something out, and I guess we’ll see how his skillset plays as he moves up the ladder.

Over at Jays Droppings, Ryan Di Francesco has a lengthy interview with the great Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, voice of the Lugnuts (as part of his duties as the club’s media relations guy) and expert on all of the great prospects the Jays have been sending through their Midwest League affiliate these past few years — and, especially, this one.

Elsewhere at Jays Droppings, Ryan has a handy Blue Jays Antihero Guide as well. For those of you looking… for… an antihero?

I like just about everything Jonathan Bernhardt writes… except when it’s about the Blue Jays. Always looking for the negative! Like in this one for Fan Rag Sports.

On a more positive note from the national media in the US, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports looks at how Kevin Pillar has picked up the Jays in the absence of their injured stars (and the absence of production from their underperforming ones).

MLB Hot Corner tweets that a band called Southtown will be playing pre-game and in-game during the Jays’ upcoming “Country Day” at the ballpark. Said band features none other than John Gibbons’ daughter!

Hey, remember Neil Ramirez? Me either, but after being outrighted by the Jays last week, the former Giants reliever has elected free agency. MLBTR has the details.

Ryan Mueller of Jays From The Couch wonders if John Stilson can help the Jays’ bullpen, which.. OK?

This tweet thread between Jesse Litsch and A.J. Burnett on the tenth anniversary of Litsch’s debut — in which he went 8 2/3 innings, before “the damn manager came and got me lol”. (Relax, Gibby haters, it was Cito.)

R.A. Dickey reminisces about his favourite memories as a Blue Jay in this chat with Scott MacArthur of TSN 1050 — a conversation that’s rather bat flip heavy. Because, y’know, how could it not be?

Lastly, not Jays related, but great stuff from Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports as he interviews the always thoughtful Adam Jones of the Orioles, on the subject of race, Curt Schilling, the Boston incident, and why he’s not afraid to speak out.