………so I assume you are waiting for a crazy preview for this upcoming series against the Mariners. I’ll give you something but from here on in I think it’s time to focus on the individual performances as the rest of the year drags on. These guys had better be playing like a man on fire. The atrocious abundance of errors are unlike anything I can recall seeing with the Blue Jays. Has the loss of Brian Butterfield had a big impact on this? I would say so. The errors are just poorly thought out execution: overthrowing the cut off man, passed balls, ill thought out throws and a general look of malaise amongst all the players is inexcusable. I called out Pete Walker a bit last time but now it’s time to call out the rest of the coaches too. There is a lot of major league inexperience with Chad Mottola, Pete Walker and Pat Hentgen. All stellar people but sometimes that isn’t enough.
In Seattle we may have a bit of an edge. Manager Eric Wedge is still recovering from a small stroke and will miss this series against the Blue Jays. Strangely enough there has been a bit of a boon recently in Seattle. One of the biggest surprises for me is that the Mariners rank 3rd in the AL in home runs behind Baltimore and your Toronto Blue Jays, one homer shy of tying the Blue Jays for second in the league. I had no idea that spacious Safeco Field would wield a team of sluggers but sluggers they have. 8 players with 10+ home runs will do that but if I told you Raul Ibanez led the team with 24 you would probably think I was drunk. AS fun as that sounds I am stone cold
crazy sober. Both teams are fairly even in their mediocrity but the nod for better team at this point goe to the Mariners. Their pitching is almost league average while our pitching is….hmmm…better than Houston…
Game 1: R.A. Dickey (8-11, 4.66 ERA) vs Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4, 2.76 ERA)
Game 2: Josh Johnson (1-8, 6.60 ERA) vs Felix Hernandez (11-4, 2.30 ERA)
Game 3: J.A. Happ (2-2, 4.91 ERA) vs Aaron Harang (5-10, 5.27 ERA)
Dickey had a very strong outing against the Athletics last time out. 6 scoreless with 8 strikeouts sounds like the makings of a Cy Young winner. Well that is definitely in the past right now. If Dickey can get another strong outing then perhaps he has finally turned a corner. Not likely though. A great outing is pretty much not in the cards…at least not this season. He seems like he is back to health do maybe it won’t be an aberration. The big thing is to not give up the home runs. Safeco Field may be the perfect type of place if his game is on. As usual it is a biiiig if.
An even bigger if is in store because the Jays get to face one of the premier and underrated pitchers in all of baseball in Hisashi Iwakuma. He is slowly getting his due though. is 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his last four starts since the All-Star break and is 5-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 12 starts at Safeco this year. He has given up almost a homerun per start so in the right situation we could knock in a few against him. Let’s hope Saefco is feeling generous tonight.
I have put Josh Johnson as a probable and that seems to be by default and pedigree at this point. No one can believe the way he has been pitching this year. Flawed mechanics and a possible bout of self doubt may be creeping in. This may be the bottoming out phase of his career. If he changes into pitcher from thrower we may be seeing the start of that design and he is struggling with it. I would still offer him a qualifying offer next year and let him pitch for contract. He is either going to become a clone of Roy Halladay or another Mike Hampton or Barry Zito: great pitchers in their 20s who kind of burped up lousy games in their early 30s.
Taking on Johnson will be the king of the hill, Felix Hernandez. As a baseball guy I love watching him pitch. Even knowing he has a shite team behind him (in past years) he still takes the mound every fifth day and gives his team a chance. These are the stats for his last ten games: 4-0, 1.93 ERA, 70 IP, 12 BB, 71 Ks. That is pretty hardcore. He is Cy Young worthy every year so against a fallen star like Johnson this could be ugly.
Our last game is going to see the probable re-emergence of J.A. Happ. When he was knocked out by that line drive to the head he was pretty much the only starter who was worth noting as the others all failed. His knee is sound and his rehab seems to have gone well. I don’t expect much more than 5 innings (due to his penchant for high pitch counts each inning) but to just see him back on the mound after what happened seems like a miracle unto itself.
Aaron Harang will take the mound against Happ and is pretty much just rotation filler until the young guns in the minors are ready to go (Canadian James Paxton being one of the probabilities). His last outing was brutal as he gave up 7 runs in 5 innings. He is no lock to win this game and for the sake of loving our beleaguered Jays I will toss this one down as a win for the boys in blue.
Probable Starting Lineups
Toronto Blue Jays
When one goes up another goes down. That seems to be the plight of the Blue Jays. Brett Lawrie is hitting .360 during this road trip but that seems to be countered by an epic slump from Adam Lind (last 10 games…5-35, .143 BA). Our team has never seems to click on all cylinders save for the long forgotten win streak. I know we have the talent to be great but this season is a write off. We need to look at the culture of this club and see if the chemistry is really there. Alex Anthopoulos will not sit idly by while this team tanks. We need a winning culture in here and perhaps trading for someone with a great background would be a great idea this off-season. If the money is there, as anticipated, then perhaps we get to make that change. Thing is when does A.A. go from savvy G.M. to just another G.M.? This off-season will be crucial. The health of the kids will be crucial (Hutchison, Nolin, Drabek etc.) It can’t be this bad again next year…can it?