The Blue Jays open their weekend series in Chicago at 40-34, just behind the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox in the AL East
Two games in four days? Like an oasis in the desert, so arrives a stretch of 17 games in 17 days that will bring the Blue Jays up to the MLB All-Star break beginning on July 11th. They’ll see the Tigers, Royals, Indians, and Rockies, but first: a three-game set with the White Sox in Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field.
Some love from Devo
One of the best to ever do it in a Blue Jays jersey, Devon White, spoke with Sportsnet’s Kristina Rutherford about Toronto’s current defensive dynamo Kevin Pillar.
“He’s gung-ho, hard-going,” White told Rutherford. “Seems like I did it a lot easier, but the end result is catching the ball. Doesn’t matter how you do it. I think at that age, I ran a little faster so I got to a lot of balls.”
Syndergaard was almost a Marlin?
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Here’s the “whoa” tidbit of the week,
. According to a report from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Marlins were given their choice of the “Lansing 3” in the mega-deal involving
The Lansing 3 was made up of Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, and Aaron Sanchez. Stoeten nails the most important takeaway from this: what if the Marlins had of selected Syndergaard, and the New York Mets had requested Sanchez in the R.A. Dickey deal thus leaving the Jays with Nicolino? A [hypothetical] bullet dodged.
Is Saunders really breaking out?
An interesting angle here from Matt Gwin at BP Toronto, where he looks at how much of a “breakout” this season truly is for Michael Saunders. Often times in the past his greatest challenge hasn’t been performance, it’s been health. So while he’s inarguably seeing a spike in his play on the field, simply being on the field is a huge boost.
There’s luck and fortune involved, as course, as there is in most “boom” seasons for a professional player. Gwin notes that Saunders is also hitting the ball much harder, though, with an average exit velocity of 92.7 MPH which ranks him 34th in baseball.
More on Saunders
Saunders has also been doing a much better job of covering the plate this season, something that was once a hindrance to his success. Nick Ashbourne of Sportsnet takes a look at this here, noting that 51.04 percent of the pitches thrown to Saunders have been on the outside third of the plate.
This has led to a complete 180 in Saunders’ ability to go to the opposite field, something he’s done better than almost any major league hitter in 2016.
A cautionary tale
With the Blue Jays entering this tough stretch on their schedule, Matt W from Blue Bird Banter looks at how some (very) similar stretches have tested Toronto in recent seasons. They’ve averaged a 5-11 record leading up to the last three All-Star breaks.
Toronto would need to make an absolute cliff-dive to even entertain selling assets at the trade deadline, but a strong run in the coming two-to-three weeks could move their aggression forward as buyers.