Blue Jays’ Nation Of Domination?

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This week’s installment of Blue Swagger gives meaning to the term ‘domination’.

Both the position player and pitcher had to rise above the hot play the Toronto Blue Jays performed in the last seven days. The Blue Jays have kept their name in the hat for the playoffs, even with only fourteen days left. Either the Blue Jays are fighting for their playoff lives or for jobs next season, in Toronto or a new team. Regardless of the situation, the time is now to evaluate what the club has to offer and start planning what to do next. These two performers have left their mark on those decisions.

Pitcher

Usually, these articles start off with the position player of the week. Forget that! With the way the starting rotation is playing for the Blue Jays recently, everyone can’t stop talking about them. Why should this article be any different?

The five starters allowed only eleven runs in six starts. Six of those runs were charged to Mark Buehrle, although he is the only one to start two games. Dickey had another good outing, giving up three runs and striking out five Tampa Bay Rays batters for the win. J.A. Happ only gave up one run, unfortunately in a loss, in seven innings to those same Rays. Drew Hutchison dominated the Chicago Cubs, allowing only one run and striking out ten batters in just over six innings of masterful work.

However, if we are going to discuss domination, we need to look at what Marcus Stroman did in his last start. Yes, it was the Cubs. Relax. He wasn’t facing the Orioles or the Angels. Having said that, in the era where young pitchers are held back from burning out their arms, closely-watched pitch counts abounding throughout the league, Stroman took the ball and never gave it back. He pitched all nine innings for a complete-game shutout. Stroman never even gave up a walk as he racked up eight strikeouts. The only blemish on his night was the three hits that went for not.

We are talking about a 5’9″, 185lbs of right-handed youth who threw that shutout. Here’s a young gun who only throws his fastball 53.5% of the time. Even if you add his cutter (17%), you are still talking about a pitch used less than 70% of the time on some nights. Combine that with having a great slider that looks like a curve and a curveball that looks like a slider, depending on how much he’s feeling it on the mound, and a changeup that he can place exactly where he wants, and you have the makings of an incredible talent.

Granted that he is young and has not always been the incredible force that he has been lately. However, ask any rookie pitcher, or better yet a seasoned veteran and a proven winner, and say you could have a record of 10-5 with a 3.61 ERA on a team that has been very inconsistent with run support (more lacking than provided) and they would tell you that they would take that season any day. This is a breakout season for the kid, who may only get even better from here. Time to strut a bit, or, better yet, swagger.

Position Player

Sep 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind (26) hits a three run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

If anyone says any player other than Adam Lind, you need to check yourself at the door right now.

The man is hitting .400 in the last seven days. He has a .500 on-base percentage. He has two doubles, a triple, two home runs (including the two-run game winner against Tampa), and seven RBIs, with less plate appearances than Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion.

The only person to even come close to the same numbers is Jose Bautista, who has eight RBIs and a home run. By no means is that anything to sneeze at. But his .211 batting average and lower OBP means that he got hits when it counted, instead of helping to consistently manufacture more runs after his time at the plate.

Bautista has been a great leader in other areas on and off the field, doing what has needed to be done. Lind just did it more consistently, dominating the play in recent games. The fact that he was hurt for a big chunk of the season makes many fans wonder about what might have been, especially with Lind’s power to all fields.

Final Word

The Blue Jays need to continue that consistency of domination if they are to succeed this season and in the future. The starting lineup is finally beginning to show what they were supposed to do in April of last season. They have kept runs off the scoreboard and imposed their will on batters, especially in the last few weeks. Lind, Bautista, and the other bats have also left their mark, either creating runs or cashing in people in front of them. It just may be too late for some Blue Jays fans, as the grim reaper of post-season play comes to end the regular season push.

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