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Photo Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The Rotation Review, Vol. 2: ACEstrada and GarciACE

Another trip through the rotation is in the books, and once again, the Blue Jays went 3-2, splitting the final two games in a series win over the White Sox, and winning two of three in Texas. Let’s dive in!

J.A. Happ

5.1 IP, 7H, 4R/ER, 1BB, 9K, 2HR, 93 pitches, 60 strikes

Happ worked around some trouble in his first two innings, giving up five baserunners and throwing 47 pitches. He was able to escape with only run one allowed, however, thanks in part to five strikeouts. He only allowed three more hits in his final 3.1 frames, however two of them left the yard. Of his nine strikeouts, seven came on fastballs.

One interesting (small sample warning!) trend we’ve seen from Happ so far is using his sinker more often over his four-seamer. In 2017, he threw his four-seamer 42.3% percent of the time, compared to the sinker being called 29.1% of the time. So far through two starts, the sinker has become his primary pitch, used 37.6% of the time, versus four-seamers being 31.8%. With two strikes, however, he still favours his four-seamer, getting seven of his fourteen strikeouts with the pitch. Happ has also continued to use his curveball sparingly, down to 3.7%. He threw four on Tuesday, three of which were balls and the other hit Jose Abreu.

Aaron Sanchez

6.0 IP, 6H, 3R/ER, 2BB, 7K, 1HR, 98 pitches, 58 strikes

It’s been well documented that Aaron Sanchez has been using his changeup alot more this year, and with good results. It’s become his go-to pitch with two strikes, using it 44.7% of the time, and has recorded five of his nine strikeouts with it in 2018. For contrast, prior to this season he used it 7.4% of the time with two strikes and recorded only sixtreen strikeouts with it. He used it even more on Wednesday than he did in his first start, so it’s definitely something he’s becoming increasingly comfortable with and this is going to be something we’re going to see all year long.

That thing took a bigger dip than Rougned Odor’s career

Marco Estrada

6.0 IP, 5H, 1R/ER, 1BB, 7K, 1HR, 105 pitches, 69 strikes

I mentioned last time that the Jays need Estrada to come back to his pre-2017 form in order for them to have a shot at making some noise this year. He was dominant in his second start of the season, however the way he’s been doing it is a bit different. He’s been leaning on his four-seamer a little more this season, even with two strikes.

2015-2017 Estrada Spray Chart with two strikes
2018 Marco Estrada Spray Chart with two strikes

So far, six of his nine strikeouts have come on fastballs up, all of them have been swinging. It’s always fun watching hitters get blown away by a fastball that averages about 89mph, although I’ll admit I’m gonna be a bit sad if it means we don’t get to see the awkward swings his changeup can generate. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to watch if this trend continues, and results it will produce.

This was an interesting sequence to Joey Gallo on Friday night. He gets him to chase a first-pitch changeup, then pounds him with fastballs up to get him swinging.

This is STILL not Aroldis Chapman

Marcus Stroman

4.2 IP, 6H, 5R/ER, 5BB, 3K, 0HR, 105 pitches, 69 strikes

Not much to say about this one, Stro simply didn’t have it. He threw less than 50% of his pitches for strikes, and allowed 11 baserunners in under five innings. The fact he was able to escape his first four innings with only one run allowed was a small miracle, however Texas broke through in the fifth to end his night.

Jaime Garcia

5.1 IP, 5H, 3R/ER, 2BB, 5K, 1HR, 96 pitches, 60 strikes

I spoke last time about how nice it is to have a fifth starter who isn’t terrible, and Jaime Garcia delivered another solid outing in the rubber match against Texas. He’s been able to use his slider as a weapon, his changeup has been producing strikeouts, and his fastball has generated a lot of weak flyouts.

How did we not all die of alcohol poisoning?

The Jays now roll into Baltimore, sending Happ, Sanchez and Estrada to the mound to hopefully beat the shit out of the Trash Birds.