Blue Jays Morning Brew: Luck, the bullpen, and other notes
The Blue Jays moved to 30-26 with their win over the Boston Red Sox last night at Fenway Park
Eight Men in the ‘Pen
Prior to the series opener in Boston last night, manager John Gibbons told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that he expects to remain with the current roster construction until shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returns from injury.
This means an eight-man bullpen which is good news for Ryan Tepera, who has hung on following the addition of Jason Grilli. While it does leave the Jays very limited positionally, especially given the value of Josh Thole or Ryan Goins outside of their defence, it hasn’t seemed to hurt the club in Tulowitzki’s absence.
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As the majority of you have heard by now, Bob Elliot is retiring. Not only is Bob Elliot a Hall of Famer and a gift to the game of baseball in this country, he’s also a profoundly respected individual within the journalism community and one of the most beloved figures in the game. Of the many articles on his retirement, I certainly suggest this one from John Lott at VICE Sports.
The Commissioner Writes Back
Displeased with the actions and subsequent punishment handed to Texas Rangers second-baseman Rougned Odor, a fourth-grade class and their teachers at Toronto’s Humbercrest Public School decided to write a letter. To Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. And he wrote back.
“Mr. Odor’s seven-game suspension,” he wrote, “following his appeal, was the longest that a position player has received for an on-field altercation in more than three years. In that context, I believe the office acted appropriately.”
Over at Blue Bird Banter, Eric Elliot looks at the interesting angle on the Blue Jays’ success (or lack thereof, at time) in 2016: cluster luck. Essentially, a team producing base hits in consecutive at-bats as opposed to being spread out over all nine innings (where they will not stack together for runs) is positive cluster luck. The same applies for pitchers.
Toronto currently ranks 21st in the MLB when it comes to cluster luck, which aligns with their 26th-place ranking in team BABIP. Sure, there’s been traditionally “bad” baseball along the way, but luck always plays a heavy role.
Speaking of Luck: Joe Biagini Edition
Nick Ashbourne of Sportsnet looked at Joe Biagini, whose rock-bottom ERA to open the season seems unsustainable for a Rule 5 pick despite his quick and unlikely ascent into the setup role. Is there some luck involved there? With a FIP and xFIP above his ERA and more of a reliance on his defence than the average back-end reliever, there’s something to it.
He’s managed this, in large part, by forcing weak contact. “Among pitchers who’ve allowed at least 50 balls in play,” Ashbourne writes, “Biagini’s average exit velocity against of 85.1 mph ranks sixth lowest. On fly balls and line drives his 86.7 mph ranks third.”
Next: LeBlanc, Diamond earning MLB consideration with play
Hutchison a bullpen option?
I’ll highlight Gregor Chisholm’s inbox article from this week as it includes a question I’m surprised I haven’t gotten already this season: Is Drew Hutchison a bullpen option?
If Hutchison had completely crashed and burned over multiple seasons, perhaps, but his value to the Blue Jays as a starter right now is too high. He’s the next man up for a spot start or injury replacement. This could enter the conversation at the end of the season, however, if the Blue Jays are in need of a longer arm out of the ‘pen.