Toronto Blue Jays Weekly Round Up – Yankees, Orioles, and wins oh, my
Here at Jays Journal, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the performances of Jays’ players (and the decision making of John Gibbons) to monitor who impressed and disappointed each and every week. Although it’s early in the season, there have been a few developments of the course of the past week that have been quite interesting and provided a nice continuation of some of the storylines we were following in Spring Training. I for one am grateful that regular season baseball is back, and that we can now begin our 6 month (hopefully 7) long analysis for the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays.
Devon Travis: One of the knacks on Travis being reported after the Anthony Gose trade (who seems to have found a nice home patrolling the outfield in Detroit) was that while Travis’ bat was major league ready, his defensive skills were still a work-in-progress. Over the past week, Travis looks to have put rest to that criticism and has looked every bit the part of an everyday major league middle infielder. In addition to the quick feet required to turn the double play, the Florida State alum also looks to have the ball-in-glove-to-hand transfer down that often is the difference between two outs and one. At the plate, Travis has impressed me most with his plate coverage and ability to defend against pitches on either side of the plate with a very compact hitting approach. Equally impressive has been his situational hitting, with Travis understanding what’s required to score runners with less than 2 outs and recording 3 RBI’S in 6 games.
John Gibbons: Despite overwhelming yet unsurprising criticism from the Jays’ fan base, I’ve actually been impressed with Gibbons’ management of the Jays so far. I fully acknowledge that on Wednesday night in New York he made a mess of the late game bullpen situation, but what’s impressed me is his decision making ever since. After the bullpen implosion on Wednesday, I had fully expected Gibbons to stay the course, trusting his experienced relievers in Aaaron Loup and Brett Cecil to continue be used in high leverage situations and requiring at least 10-15 games before redefining roles in the bullpen. Instead, Gibbons took Cecil out of the closer role the next day and opted to use Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro in critical situations in the series decider on Thursday evening. Now, proactive isn’t a word that usually comes to mind with John Gibbons, but moves like sticking with Dalton Pompey in the 2-hole on Saturday after a nice day at the plate on Friday evening in Baltimore comes across as a slight change in philosophy for the Jays’ manager. Gibbons is a manager who likes to trust his senior players, but his flexibility to move Russell Martin around in the order makes me think that his approach may have changed in 2015. Or maybe that’s just what good managers do…
Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro: If these two can continue to blow away opposing hitters over the next couple of months, they may end up serving as the x-factor in the Jays’ bullpen that was missing when the Opening Day lineup was being projected during Spring Training. Now, major league hitters will eventually have enough video on the two young flamethrowers, but for now we should sit back and enjoy the injection of youthful exuberance in the Blue Jays bullpen. With 0 runs allowed in a combined 5 appearances, Alex Anthopolous looks pretty good right now with his decision to bring these two up to the big leagues.
Aaron Sanchez: It’s really hard to point out disappointing performances after 5 games, but with the Jays looking awfully good as a team through 5 games, the only starter to underwhelm in his first outing was Aaron Sanchez. If there was one criticism of Sanchez as a starter in the minor leagues it was his lack of control. On Saturday evening against the Orioles, Sanchez found himself too often behind in the count with the Baltimore hitters feasting on pitches that ended up catching too much of the plate. Sanchez couldn’t get out of the 4th inning, giving up 2 home runs and 3 earned runs. Given his success last year (although in the bullpen), I fully expect Sanchez to rebound from this outing.
Jose Bautista: Again, it’s difficult to begin judging the performances of specific players after just 5 games, but with 9 strikeouts and an underwhelming .167 batting average, Jose Bautista hasn’t looked himself in the first week of the season. Bautista has yet to homer, and has been uncharacteristically chasing a lot of pitches nowhere near the strike zone. Joey Bats has been one of the best players in the MLB over the past few years and I expect him to get it going offensively in the next week.