Blue Jays Weekly: Russell Martin Mashing in May
Here at Jays Journal, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the performances of Jays players to monitor who impressed and disappointed each and every week. Through five weeks, it’s finally starting to feel like we’re getting right into the thick of things with the Jays and there continue to be several developments that have given us a good sense of what’s to come in the 2015 season. Here’s this week’s round up:
Russell Martin: To this point, Martin’s season has been a story of extremes. While the Jays prized free-agent acquisition started off ice cold to begin the season – much to the concern of a sometimes impatient Jays fan base – Martin has exploded offensively in the last couple of weeks. For the month of May, Martin has posted a very impressive .429/.417/.886 slash line with 4 home runs and 8 extra base hits. When contrasted with his .197/.367/.410 line for April, going forward it will be interesting to keep an eye on whether Martin continues to be a streaky hitter or whether he levels out somewhere in the middle in line with his career averages. My take is that Martin will eventually begin to cool off, but seems to have justified the pre-season prediction as another run producing bat in the middle of the Jays lineup.
Liam Hendriks: In the early parts of May, Hendriks has added some much needed stability to the Blue Jays bullpen. In two appearances in May, Hendriks has pitched 5.1 innings, giving up only one earned run, showing excellent control by not issuing any walks to post a 1.69 ERA and more impressively, a 0.38 WHIP. It’s been noted by Jays on-air commentators that Hendrik’s move to the bullpen has allowed him to throw his fastball at a higher velocity and he appears to be far more effective in comparison to the few spot starts he had in 2014. Alongside Jeff Francis, the Aussie may end up being a valuable innings eater out the Jays bullpen. However, if Hendriks continues to impress, one wonders whether John Gibbons will be more inclined to use him in higher leverage situations later in ball games.
Chris Colabello: In May, Colabello has simply been on fire. In 21 at bats, Colabello has registered 12 hits (3 for extra bases including 1 home run) that have produced 4 RBI’s and an eye-popping .571 batting average. Of course, we need to factor in sample size and that Colabello will eventually come back to down to earth, but it is worth noting that Colabello is no stranger to these types of streaks in his limited MLB playing career. In April of last year, Colabello recorded an astonishing 27 RBI’s with the Minnesota Twins before injuries slowly decimated his early season returns. This makes it very difficult to predict what Colabello’s future performance will be, but for now it’s really fun enjoying the former Independent League journeyman mashing at the plate.
Devon Travis: After a scorching hot April, Travis’ ascension to the lead-off spot has not been very kind to the rookie. In May, Travis has posted a .171 batting average…a clear drop off from the .325 average he surprised us all with in April. My feeling is that Travis was a huge beneficiary of hitting in between Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista and after being moved to the lead-off spot in Reyes’ absence, opposing pitchers have had a bit more room to work with when dealing to Travis. Combined with the fact that Travis hasn’t really had many at bats in the lead-off spot throughout his minor league career, it’s not a surprise that his numbers are down in May. What continues to impress me, however, is that Travis continues to put up quality at bats and may just be on the wrong side of some bad luck. I have noticed that Travis has continued to hit with solid contact, and his low batting average may be being influenced by a .179 BABIP in May (compared to .339 in April).
Kevin Pillar: Despite recording a two-hit game yesterday evening against a stingy Baltimore pitching staff, Pillar has struggled a bit in May. Hitting .231/.279/.333 this month, Pillar’s improved plate discipline doesn’t seem to have transferred over from Spring Training. Though he has reduced his strikeout rate from 23% in 2014 to 13% this year, Pillar’s paltry OBP remains an indication of his sometimes overaggressive approach at the plate.
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