The Rays series has given hope to the masses in Blue Jays land. With a few come from behind victories and some decent relief pitching (Lincoln’s bases loaded walk aside), the Blue Jays seem to be finally steering in the right direction…well they were until our rotation started to get decimated by injuries (sound familiar?). With J.A. Happ still recovering, Ricky Romero remaining brutal and Buffalo bound with a not-ready-for-prime-time pitching adjustment still fresh and not wholly repeatable yet (4.1IP, 7H, 6ER, 5BB, 4K, 12.46 ERA, 36ERA+), we are left with Edgar Gon….oh wait designated for assignment…so it”s ummmmmm…Ramon Ortiz(??!!!). What the flippin’ heck?
As long as we keep hitting perhaps we can ride out this wave. Josh Johnson should be back soon and Mark Buehrle surly cannot have fallen off a cliff already (7.02 ERA, 60 ERA+). His 11 home runs allowed leads the American League so far. He has always been a guy giving up hits (10 out if 14 years he allowed more hits than innings pitched) but he has always been able to get the outs when needed. Still waiting on that…
Game 1: Ramon Ortiz (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs Jon Lester (4-0, 3.30 ERA)
Game 2: Mark Buehrle (1-2, .308 opp BAA) vs Clay Buchholz (6-0, 1.60 ERA)
Game 3: Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.69 ERA) vs Ryan Dempster (2-3, 2.93 ERA)
Lester gave us fits in his first start against is giving up no runs. His next start was on the other end of the spectrum, having given up 5 earned. Which Lester should we expect to see? Well since April 13th when his ERA was 1.42 after his third start, that same ERA has risen ever game since to it’s current 3.30. That is almost two full runs a game over four starts. Sounds like he may be trending in the wrong direction.
Ramon Ortiz? Typical 4A pitcher just being used as filler until Josh Johnson and J.A. Happ are healthy. After this start we won’t need a 5th starter until May 21 so we should be able to suck it up.
Game 2 should be interesting. After the spitball allegations from Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst you know the Boston fans are going to be fired up. I am sure Buchholz will also be primed and ready for this game. More than a strikeout an inning, a .193 opp BAA and a WHIP of 1.03 suggest that it isn’t just a spitball. Buchholz always had the pedigree and perhaps he is finally putting it all together at age 29.
Hard luck starter Mark Buehrle is just an enigma at this point. A 12 year career of workmanlike slightly above average pitching was all we asked of him. Perhaps having his Pit Bull back home with his family has really taken an emotional toll on him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him request a trade and get traded at the deadline.
After a terrible showing in Texas after the trade deadline, Game 3 starter Ryan Dempster signing with the Red Sox seemed odd. Wasn’t Dempster more valuable in the National League? With a 11.51 K/9 inn ratio and an ERA under 3, he has been much more than expected. The Canadian held out of the World Baseball Classic to further his adjustment back to the American League and his work has paid off.
Brandon Morrow also appeared to turn a corner with his 8 strong innings last time out. The five walks were a bit worrisome but I am sure it is a mechanical issue that he and Pete Walker can work out. His 2:1 K/BB ratio is slightly worse than his career average of 2.26:1. He has always been a bit wild but at 29 I was hoping he would do the same thing Buchholz is doing for the Red Sox: taking the next step forward to being a consistently elite pitcher.
The following are the probable line-ups for both squads:
Again, as in years past, the Red Sox have strong cogs up and down the line up as their 3rd place Team BAA of .268 proves. Dustin Pedroia is still the heart and soul of this team and he leads by example (.316 BAA and .411 OBP). Although the team is ranked only 7th in Team ERA (3.87), it has been the pitching that has kept the Red Sox on top (well until the Twins mopped the field with them). Their bullpen has been spotty and they have lost Joel Hanrahan for perhaps the season with forearm issues. And so it’s Andrew Bailey closing and that seems to be just fine in the interim (1.46 ERA, .140 opp BAA and a WHIP of 0.81). Pretty good second option.
The Final Word:
Well we showed some spark on offence in Tampa Bay that we hadn’t seen for a while. We may have split the series but for the first time in a while we seemed to play very well for the entire series….offensively that is. If our starters can buck up and go 7 or 8 innings strong we should pull out a series win. If the Red Sox old men continue to perform without health issues and if David Ortiz keeps raking like a mad man (.353 BAA, .384 OBP, .662 SLG% and 1.045 OPS) then we will be in trouble.
A sweep of the Sox while they are reeling is critical to keeping our playoff aspirations somewhat conceivable. Losing 3 of 4 handily to the already afterthought Twins seems to reveal cracks in the armour. With the way the offence is coming around we may be able to rip a few holes in their armour and begin the slow climb upwards in the standings.