Blue Jays Morning Brew: Under the microscope

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The Toronto Blue Jays have now taken sole ownership of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, and sit just 1.0 game behind the Angels who currently occupy the first spot. As one of the hottest teams in baseball the Blue Jays are electrifying a fan base with their bats, but also with some dominant pitching performances.

Toronto will look to secure a series win later today against the Twins then head to New York to se their sights on the division crown, which currently sits 5.5 games against the Yankees. For now, get your day started with the Blue Jays Morning Brew!

Martin’s declining walk rate  –  Kyle Matte of Capital Jays took a great look at Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin and the declining walk rate he’s experience in 2015. The numbers have lined up in an odd way, especially considering that Martin’s power numbers are so impressive, he’s using all fields an has already shot up to a 3.3 WAR.

As he explains, the walk rates aren’t a problem at all. In fact, it has to do with opposing pitchers challenging Martin more frequently with fastballs, and Martin responding with success. In the end, Kyle finds that “he’s just as patient as before, and the declining walk rate is nothing more than a by-product of opposing pitchers utilizing an increasingly aggressive approach to attack the Blue Jays catcher.” It’s well worth the read, and will leave you even happier with Toronto’s All Star.

Dickey’s ace-like July  –  Steve McEwan of Blue Jays plus continued his July rotation review series recently with R.A. Dickey, who is in a real groove right now. In five July starts, Dickey posted a 2-2 record with an impressive 2.57 ERA. If he can continue this through August and September, he may just earn the opportunity to pitch in October.

In breaking down the reasons behind this surge, Steve finds a link between knuckleball velocity and Dickey’s success. During his best seasons, Dickey was floating them in at 77 MPH, but had regressed to an average 75.2 MPH through 2015. Now that he’s pumping the knuckler with greater velocity, Dickey has produced a greater swing-and-miss rate. Dickey has also increased his ground ball rate, which will play a huge role in his stretch success.

The anatomy of a Donaldson swing  –  Talk about an in-depth look at Josh Donaldson’s swing from FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris. This is a fascinating look behind the curtain at the mechanics of an MLB swing, and one you shouldn’t miss. Surprisingly, Donaldson tells Sarris that he doesn’t pay a great deal of attention to his hands. Instead, he views his swing from more of a “whole body” standpoint, with his hands acting simply as bat-holders.

“Honestly I never really think about my hands,” Donaldson tells Sarris. “It more has to do with angles with your legs, your spine, your shoulders. I wouldn’t consider myself a guy who has a handsy swing, that’s more of the old-school kind of thing, or guys that slap the ball around. I use more of my entire body.”

Next: Looking at LaTroy: Old Reliable!

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