A sweep! I almost fell out of my lawn chair after the Blue Jays clinched a sweep at Texas. It just goes to show just how cyclical a baseball season can be. Sometimes one or two players is out of sorts and causes some issues but it seemed The Jays feasted on Rangers pitching and our pitching staff, although they were dynamite, may have caught the Rangers knee deep in a team wide batting slump…the kind that we had in April. Good teams will usually recover to be the team they really are. With Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie returning to the fold perhaps by the weekend we should be trending pretty high amongst the top teams in baseball. If we finish June at .500 or better we definitely have a shot at playoffs considering that the majority of our games will be played against those in our own division.
The NL West is a very evenly balanced division of good teams that each have their own issues to deal with. The Rockies, with their mediocre record, sit a half game back of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the lead in the NL West. The Rockies Are also the second best hitting team in the National League (.276) and their team OPS of .790 is tops. However their team took a major blow offensively and defensively with the loss of Troy Tulowitzki to the disabled list with a broken rib. If that man could stay healthy all season I would love to see the numbers he could put up. The Rockies pitching is 9th in the NL (4.07 ERA) thanks in large part to their bullpen. They have four pitchers with ten or more starts with an ERA over 4.25. YIKES! The way the Jays are hitting right now we could be in for another series
Probable Starting Pitchers
Game 1: Jorge De La Rosa (7-4, 3.49 ERA) vs Josh Johnson (0-2, 5.40 ERA)
Game 2: Jeff Francis (2-4, 5.87 ERA) vs Esmil Rogers (2-2, 3.21 ERA)
Game 3: Juan Nicasio (4-2, 4.86 ERA) vs Mark Buehrle (3-4, 4.66 ERA)
Both pitchers in game one are coming off outings involving slight problems to their hands. De La Rosa has a cut on his middle finger and Johnson battled a blister problem last time out. For De La Rosa it is a minor setback. He and Tyler Chatwood have been saviours for a rather ordinary starting staff. In his last ten starts he has given up three or fewer runs in eight of them. He opp BAA is .265 so you can also credit the team defense with keeping his numbers respectable. It also helps that all season he has given up only five home runs. For a Rockies pitcher, that is an amazing feet considering the thin air in Colorado.
Johnson laboured through his last start but gave up only 3 runs so he gave a workmanlike effort. If his blister is no problem anymore I am sure he will be better at hitting his spots and possibly start to get hot a la Buehrle. Johnson has the pedigree for it and we have a need. His strikeout to walks is decent at 29:13 so if he can keep his pitch count low and sets the pace of the game, this should be a great pitching battle.
For game 2 I have one question really. How in the world is Jeff Francis still pitching in a major league starting rotation? I like the guy, he is Canadian and a lefty like me, but with an ERA near 6. Since 2008 he has ERA’s of 5.01, 5.00, 4.82, 5.58 and 5.87 (he missed 2009 due to injury). How does THAT get constant work? I just don’t get it.
Esmil Rogers looks like he is going to make things difficult once Brandon Morrow is ready to return. At this point it would be foolish to remove him from the starting 5 unless he starts falling off but who do you drop (Dickey???)? Rogers has a great arm and an even better attitude and that’s why we are going to run the Rockies right out of the building. This one has the potential to be an ugly lopsided game…yay for us!
In game 3 it also looks like it may be a laugher as well. Mark Buehrle has finally found his groove. In June so far he is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA, a WHIP of 110 and a K to walk ratio of 3:1. This is the man we dealt for. This is the type of pitcher every team needs. He isn’t perfect but he knows how to pitch. He hasn’t lasted this long in baseball because of a fluke. I even thought all those innings over the years had done him in but thankfully he is proving me wrong.
Juan Nicasio would be a 6th pitcher to most of the other teams in baseball but here is can easily be slotted number 4. Until this season he hadn’t started more than 13 games in the majors and his ERA is consistently over 4.50. He walks a few too many and has a penchant for giving up homers…not at a ridiculous rate but something worth eyeing in the friendly confines of Rogers Centre. Chalk this one up to the veteran Buehrle and a series win for the Blue Jays
Projected Starting Lineups
Toronto Blue Jays
Who has been raking? Michael Cuddyer has been raking. His current 14 game hitting streak is the longest current streak in the NL. He is hitting .340 overall with a .988 OPS. This from a guy I thought had talent but would only be a decent left fielder with some power and some speed but would always struggle to hit. Apparently the snow in Denver is much better than Minneapolis. If you think it is a fluke look deeper. He is hitting .340 against lefties…AND righties. His Ba at home is .370 but it is also .308 on the road so it seems very legit. With him and Carlos Gonzalez going strong it helps mask the loss of Tulowizki much easier.
Which beings me to the man I thought would be left for dad in the minors. Adam Lind may have started out slow but so did we all. Right now? He may be the hottest hitter on the planet. In his last 10 games he is hitting .455 with 3 HR, 10 RBI. Heck he is even hitting lefties to the tune of .520!! Is this a mirage? I don’t think so. Everyone always thought Adam could hit. But a tweak to his mental approach seems to have allowed him to turn the corner….or maybe it’s the beard. Fear the beard!
We can do this. Percentages don’t matter. The Jays supposedly have a less than 5% chance of making a run for the playoffs. Who is to say they cannot be that 5 percent? They are hitting so well right now and getting contributions up and down the lineup. The starting pitching seems to be holding strong…bending but not breaking. If our vet come back from injury and ineffectiveness then we truly can pull this off. I may not be a fan of the unbalances schedule in some respects but it does allow for quicker movement up the standings in ones own division. We are more than capable of finishing June with a winning record. Let’s get there first and see what happens.