Things worth mentioning…
- Hey, how about Robbie Ray? The lefty having a rebound season after his difficult 2020 campaign (which featured a nightmare in Arizona and some noticeable improvement after he was dealt to Toronto) is pretty key to the Blue Jays’ success this season. If the Blue Jays can even just get the Robbie Ray of 2019 (in which he posted a 4.34 ERA over 33 starts), that would be nice. If they could get the Ray of 2017 (in which he posted a 2.89 ERA over 28 starts and got Cy Young votes), that would be incredible. The hope here is that the Ray who posted a 6.62 ERA in 2020 and walked everyone is gone and the old Ray, now having worked with Pete Walker, is back. Based on his results so far in spring, things are looking good. On Saturday Ray made his third start of spring against the Orioles and tossed four hitless innings while picking up three strikeouts. The only blemishes on Ray’s outing were two walks but the fact he threw 30 strikes on 52 pitches is a positive in that regard. All told, Ray has tossed eight-and-one-third innings so far in spring with two earned runs on two hits, four walks, and 11 strikeouts.
- The Blue Jays continued to dominate the Trash Birds after Ray left the game. Francisco Liriano threw a scoreless inning, picking up two strikeouts while also walking two. Rafael Dolis had a clean frame with two strikeouts and both Jordan Romano and Ryan Borucki struck out the side in their innings. The only hit allowed in the entire game by the Blue Jays was a double by former No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman off of Romano.
- So, all told, the Blue Jays allowed one hit and four walks to the O’s over eight innings while picking up eight strikeouts. That’s what you like to see.
- For the most part, it was more of the same pitching dominance for the Blue Jays on Sunday against the Yankees, a somewhat more impressive opponent than the Trash Birds. The star of the day was Alek Manoah, who’s quickly working himself into everyone’s plans for this season. The Blue Jays’ 2019 first-round pick absolutely mowed down New York’s lineup, striking out seven Yanks over three innings of work without allowing a hit or a walk. Here’s how it went down, courtesy of Keegan Matheson and Pitching Ninja…
Alek Manoah's 5 strikeouts through two innings against the Yankees:
Voit: Swinging (slider)
Bruce: Swinging (slider)
Frazier: Swinging (fastball)
Dietrich: Swinging (changeup)
Higashioka: Swinging (slider)
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) March 14, 2021
Alek Manoah, Wicked Changeup and Slider.
Filmed with a potato. pic.twitter.com/Pi9UBXolEM
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 14, 2021
- Manoah obviously isn’t going to crack the Blue Jays’ roster out of camp given the highest level he’s pitched professionally is Rookie Ball in Vancouver. But, still, this is incredibly exciting stuff from one of the team’s most important young arms. Could we see Manoah at some point later in the season? Maybe!
- After Manoah came Simeon Woods Richardson, another top prospect who came to the Blue Jays by way of the Marcus Stroman trade a couple of years back. Woods Richardson, who’s another young arm who could realistically make his way up to the big-leagues later on this year, tossed three scoreless frames, surrendering two hits while striking out three. Like Manoah, he hasn’t allowed a run yet in spring.
- Jackson Rees and Adam Kloffenstein each tossed scoreless frames after that and the Blue Jays had themselves a 16-inning shutout streak going between Saturday and Sunday. But then 2020 second-round pick CJ Van Eyk came in and had himself a rough go. He couldn’t find the strike zone and was tagged for five earned runs on two hits and three walks and didn’t record an out. He was the only Blue Jays pitcher to allow a run this weekend.