Daily?!?!
Times are good in Toronto Buffalo.
Since getting swept by the Yankees and losing their series-opener to the Orioles, the Blue Jays have launched themselves on a season-high five-game winning streak. I mean, to be fair, these wins have come against a couple of bad opponents in Baltimore and Miami, but, still, the team is firing on all cylinders right now. The bats are teeing off, the starting pitching has rounded into form, and the bullpen hasn’t imploded in a few days.
I wrote last week that the Blue Jays needed to have a good run during this soft part of the schedule to compensate for the poor results they had against the Astros, White Sox, and Yankees. My hope was that they would put together, at the very least, a 9-3 run in this 12-game stretch against Baltimore, Miami, and Seattle. They’re 5-1 so far with three games left against the Orioles and a three-game series against the Mariners after that.
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By the end of that aforementioned Seattle series, the calendar will have switched to July, and we’ll really start to be able to talk about the team making upgrades to go on a run in the second half.
Many have questioned why Ross Atkins and Co. have stood pat thus far while the bullpen throws away so many winnable games. Well, the reality is that trades don’t happen very often in June. There are a handful of teams on the bubble out there who aren’t ready to give up just yet and the good teams will have to pay a premium in order to pry an extra month of quality talent away.
Kevin Goldstein at FanGraphs had a good post earlier this week about why both buyers and sellers wait and how this whole thing is ultimately a big game of chicken…
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Much like buyers, sellers are waiting for their own market expansion, as more teams in buying mode means more potential suitors for your players. From the beginning of the season until mid-July, sellers set high prices for their players, and understandably so. If you want that extra month or months from a player, and you want a team to act now and eliminate multiple potential suitors, you need to pay a premium. Instead, sellers will often find an acceptable offer and sit on it, hoping for something better elsewhere or an improved offer as time-based desperation sets in.
And he also talked about an added wrinkle this year, which is that teams need to wait and see how pitchers perform with MLB’s recent crackdown on sticky stuff before going all-in…
This season presents a new challenge for teams looking to add depth to their pitching staffs, as the recent crackdown on foreign substances has caused teams to pause in terms of their trade target evaluations. Target identification for many buyers began during spring training, and players have been tracked via data/video and scouted for months. But sources from multiple organizations have indicated that they are setting a new line beginning this week to see how pitchers change with the enforcement policy in effect. For many relievers who rely on big-spin breaking balls, the quality of their pitches will be closely monitored, which could dramatically re-configure the order of many target lists.
Anyways, the key for the Blue Jays is to keep themselves in the mix into mid-July, and then the trade market will start to solidify and they can address their obvious needs. As of right now, they’re 5.5 games back of the Rays in the AL East, and they could surely inch themselves closer over the next few weeks if they kick the piss out of Baltimore and Seattle and do well in their early July six-game head-to-head with Tampa.
On Thursday morning, Mark Shapiro appeared on Sportsnet 590 and said that he was confident that the team would add pieces that would help the team win…
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Shapiro talked about eventually making external additions to the team as the trade market begins to form, but, more interestingly, he also spoke about how some of Toronto’s additions could also come internally.
There will be players coming back from injuries, such as Julian Merryweather, Travis Bergen, Ryan Borucki, and Thomas Hatch who will help the pitching staff, and also Alejandro Kirk, whose bat will be welcomed to the lineup. But there could also be other players in the system who could come up and have an impact on the team.
Nate Pearson is one of those guys who we’ve all talked about as a possible solution to the bullpen. The challenge here, of course, is the fact Pearson is again dealing with a groin injury and we don’t yet know how long he’ll be out for. That said, Pearson getting injured might ultimately push the team to use him in a bullpen role rather than as a starter because it’ll be difficult to build him up again if he misses a significant amount of time. This situation is impossible to predict right now.
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Also down in Triple-A, the Thunder-Bisons have a handful of arms pitching quite well…
  • Zach Logue, 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 10.3 SO/9
  • Kirby Snead, 19 2/3 IP, 1.37 ERA, 11.9 SO/9
  • Connor Overton, 29 2/3 IP, 1.52 ERA, 9.1 SO/9
  • Hobie Harris, 16 1/3 IP, 1.88 ERA, 13.8 SO/9
Now, none of these guys are on the 40-man roster, which is an obstacle given the fact the Blue Jays will already be facing a roster crunch when guys return from the 60-day Injured List. But there’s also a familiar face already on the 40-man down in Double-A who could possibly help later on in the season…
Sticking with trades, over at The Athletic, Kaitlyn McGrath and Jim Bowden walked through five potential trades that the Blue Jays could make to fill their needs. Two of them are particularly interesting…
Pirates trade: Righty reliever Richard Rodríguez and first baseman Colin Moran
Blue Jays trade: Catcher Alejandro Kirk and left-handed pitcher Nick Allgeyer
Twins trade: Right-handed starting pitcher José Berríos
Blue Jays trade: Right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson
Both of these trades feature a couple of top prospects who have been viewed as key parts of the organization’s future. Pearson is still the team’s No. 1 prospect and Kirk is a legitimate two-way threat behind the plate with a potentially elite bat.
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But, given the emergence of Gabriel Moreno in Double-A this year, moving Kirk isn’t an unrealistic possibility. The Blue Jays have five catchers on their 40-man roster and I doubt that Reese McGuire will clear waivers again. If the team pulls the trigger on a big deal, it’s reasonable to assume Kirk would be involved, given the organization’s depth at the position. That said, doing so for a bench bat and a reliever seems like a stretch.
And then there’s Pearson, who was deemed untouchable this time last year. After an array of issues, including an inability to stay healthy and a challenge with throwing strikes, there’s some genuine concern as to whether Big Nate will ever make good on his enormous potential. Would the team rather stick it out and try to make it work with a potential ace or get a year-and-a-half of Berrios, a guy who’s already a top-end starter?
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A Blue Jays rotation that includes Berrios would also be a boon to their bullpen. They could roll with Hyun Jin Ryu, Berrios, Robbie Ray, Ross Stripling, and Steven Matz as their five, and push Alek Manoah into a multi-inning bullpen role later in the season. Doing so would lessen the need to pay a premium for a high-quality closer such as Pittsburgh’s Richard Rodriguez.
Who knows what’ll happen! Regardless, I’m glad the team has gone on this mini heater and we aren’t talking about the idea of selling high on Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray before the deadline.