Blue Jays Trade Targets vs AL East
It is getting to the point where you can’t walk down the street without getting hit by a new Toronto Blue Jays trade rumor. They’re everywhere. Some will have truth to them. Others will not. While it is difficult to decipher the truth from the “Yeah, right”, it doesn’t change the fact that the Blue Jays need pitching if they are going to contend. At 4.5 games out of first place in the division, we’re looking at some very important games coming up. September alone has 22 games against division rivals.
With that in mind (and assuming this club will still be in the hunt in September) I wanted to find out which of these trade targets would handle pitching in the AL East the best. Do they have a history? What I found is rather interesting. I used ESPN’s sortable player stats to look at how each player has done against AL East teams and/or in AL East stadiums. Given that most of these rumored targets come form the National League, I used the last 3 years (2012-2014) to allow for as much info as possible. I then looked at 2015 to fill in the picture.
So, for the purposes of this post, let’s assume every name is on the table and the Blue Jays have a shot at bringing them aboard. I know it’s hard, but it’ll make things easier if you go along with it. As well, what you know about small sample sizes will have to be put on hold for a bit.
Also at Jays Journal: The ‘Manalyst’ says the Blue Jays are Not Likely to Make a Trade!
Against Tampa Bay- In one start, Hamels went 7 innings of 3 hit shut out baseball, striking out 7. Batters hist .136. In one game against the Boston Red Sox, again went 7 innings and gave up 3 runs including 2 home runs. But, he picked up the victory. Both of these starts took place in the Phillies home park. So, pitching in the hitter parks of the AL East may yield different results. Perhaps it would help Blue Jays fans to note that over the last 3 years, Hamels’ ERA in August is 2.16 and in September is 2.94. This season, Hamels has struggled in the one start he made against both the Red Sox (7.20 ERA in 5 IP) and the Yankees (9.00 ERA in 5 IP).
Toronto Blue Jays
Cueto has almost as limited experience against the AL East over the last 3 years. If we take out the start against the Blue Jays where he went 8 innings and only gave up 3 runs, he has a 7 inning loss against the Rays and two starts against the Yankees. In those 2 starts, he got one win. He gave up just 4 runs, walked 6 and struck out 12. In those two games, batters hit .283 against him. Both of those starts against the Yankees came at Yankee Stadium. In those two starts, he only surrendered one home run. In 2015, Cueto has not had to face an AL East opponent.
The Shark has faced every team in the AL East. And, against Blue Jays rivals, he’s 0-1, 3.19 in one start against each of the other 4 teams. He was brilliant against the Yankees going 7 innings of shutout baseball to pick up the no decision. The Orioles and Red Sox have had the most success against him scoring a total of 7 runs in 12 innings. Samardzija has gone 7 innings 3 times in the above 4 contests. It should be noted that none of the above numbers came from starts in AL East stadiums. This season, Samardzija struggled against the Orioles in 2 starts. He gave up 13 hits in 12.2 innings for 8 earned runs. That is mostly due to a ghastly outing he had in Camden Yards where his ERA is 12.6 this season. He went 7 innings in a start at Rogers Centre (0.00 ERA) and Tropicana Field (3.86 ERA)
If there are children reading, you might want to hide their eyes. Ross’ numbers are not pretty against the AL East over the last 3 years. At all. He has a 24.92 ERA against Baltimore in 2 games (one start) totaling 4.1 innings. Against the Red Sox he owns a 20.25 ERA in one game. It was only 1.1 innings where he gave up 6 hits and 3 earned runs. But, wait. There’s more. He also has a 6.55 ERA against the Yankees in 3 games (two starts) where he collected 11 innings of work. He gave up 17 hits and 9 runs. Oh, and the Rays? Well, he has a 8.10 ERA against them. In 3 games (2 starts) he gave up 21 hits and 12 runs in 13.1 innings. Perhaps, the good news is that all of this ugliness came in very limited time in each stadium. He was mostly a reliever back then and the numbers look worse when you struggle badly in a short outing. Ross has not made a start against the AL East thus far in 2015.
Of the group, Shields has by far the most experience against the AL East. While he has not made a start against his old division this season, over the last few, he has 23 starts and has gone 12-8, 3.03 in 154.1 innings. He’s averaged nearly 7 innings per start. In total, he’s made 11 starts within the stadiums of the AL East (excluding Rogers Centre). His ERA in these stadiums is 3.50 including a 1.80 ERA at Fenway Park. Early on in his career, Shields made his name succeeding in the AL East. Could the older version of himself continue that?
What all of this tells us is that the AL East could be quite the challenge for any pitcher the Blue Jays bring in at the Trade Deadline. Can it be worse than it has been already? Perhaps not. The names above may be different levels of pipe dreams for Blue Jays fans. But, if this club is going to make a serious run at the division title, it is going to have to go through the last month of the season battling its division rivals. Small sample size or not, these numbers don’t yield a tremendous amount of confidence. If one of the above players is indeed brought in, they’re going to have to show numbers and performances that justify the package the Blue Jays will give up to get them.
Next: Blue Jays' First Half Disappointments