Blue Jays Weekly: Looking Back at June


Jun 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays celebrates the victory against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre. Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Canada Day readers! With June coming to an end and a very busy July ahead, we’re going to take a look back at the past month to see what performances stood out along with those that disappointed. Overall, it was a great month to be a Jays fan, with the club winning 18 games and losing only 9, helping to push them right back into the very closely contested AL East division race. Since it was a great month for the Jays, it was difficult to point out many disappointing performances, while it was difficult to narrow down the impressive ones.

Stock Up:

Kevin Pillar: After struggling mightily in May, Pillar rebounded with a stellar month of June, hitting .365 with 8 extra base hits (including 4 home runs) and a team leading 18 RBI’s. By Fangraphs, Pillar led the Jays in WAR for the month of June with his combination of timely hitting, glimpses of power, stellar defense and speed on the basepaths (Pillar added 5 stolen bases during the month). When the Dalton Pompey experiment came to a premature halt earlier in the year, there was some concern whether Pillar – who was considered to be no more than the team’s fourth outfielder – would be able to handle the responsibilities of playing every day and if he could be an offensive contributor for the Jays. While it’s been an up and down season for Pillar, the past month helped to provide some reassurance that until Pompey either makes it back to the big leauges or is traded in a deadline deal, the Jays do have a solid everyday center fielder in the former 32nd round pick.

Jose Bautista: Despite his recent 0-24 slump, Bautista had a very productive month of June. Even during this slump, Bautista has walked 8 times and along with a .183 BABIP for the month, right now I don’t think there’s too much cause for concern for the Jays’ slugger. We know that Bautista is an extremely consistent hitter, so it’s likely only a matter of time before he starts producing offensively again. Outside of the recent slump, Bautista did hit a team leading 8 home runs during the month and drove in 20 runs and now leads the team with 50 RBI’S. Still, I don’t think the Jays have seen the best of Bautista (or Edwin Encarnacion either), which is scary considering just how dominant this offence might be if those two get going in unison.

Liam Hendriks: With the bullpen steadily improving in June, Liam Hendriks has become a major contributor for the Jays. In June, Hendriks pitched 13 innings in 11 appearances, and dominated hitters with 11 strikeouts (vs. 2 walks), a 1.85 FIP and remarkable 0.00 ERA. There has been plenty of chatter about late inning relievers and the need for a dominant arm to help close out games decided by 1 or 2 runs…but sometimes I get the feeling that the performances of Hendriks and Steve Delabar may not get the recognition it deserves. Sure, the Jays could definitely benefit from the addition of another hard thrower in the bullpen, but it’s difficult to deny that the Jays have received excellent contributions in June from players who weren’t projected to play big roles in 2015, and Hendriks is a great example.

Stock Down:

Brett Cecil: Simply put, Cecil had a disastrous June. A 4.18 FIP, 9.00 ERA, 10 earned runs allowed in 10.0 innings with 7 walks was enough for John Gibbons to remove Cecil from the closer role and insert young flamethrower Roberto Osuna. Zooming out a little bit, Cecil has proven to be one of the more consistent relievers for the Jays in the past 2-3 years, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that he will struggle to match his 2013 All-Star caliber level of performance this year. Cecil probably isn’t suited ideally for the closer role, with an underwhelming fastball and curveball that demands precise location, so it’s not a surprise to see him struggle when his off-speed pitches are missing their spots. Given the opportunity to close out games on a regular basis this year, Cecil has failed to earn much confidence and is likely headed for more of a situational late inning relief role for the foreseeable future.

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