The Blue Jays enter play on Saturday one game back of the Baltimore Orioles for top spot in the American League Wild Card race while Detroit, who has one extra game to play, sits just a half game behind Toronto.
Baltimore and New York begin play at 4:05 p.m. ET, so the Wild Card picture should gain some clarity by the time that J.A. Happ and Eduardo Rodriguez take the mound at Fenway Park (Note: Today’s game is a 7:10 p.m. ET start).
Until then, here are some news and notes that you might have missed from the past few days in Blue Jays coverage:
During Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox it was announced that the Blue Jays had completed their trade of Pat Venditte to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later.
Lopes is a 22-year-old second baseman who has also made a handful of appearances at shortstop and third. He was selected by the Mariners in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB Draft and is from Huntington Beach, California.
After two seasons of advanced-A ball, Lopes made his double-A debut last season with the Jackson Generals and posted a .284 batting average in 131 games. He also managed to produce a strong .358 on-base percentage, but his power tool is a relative non-factor. Lopes added 26 stolen bases and was caught stealing six times.
Lopes is the younger brother of Christian Lopes, a Jays prospect that enjoyed a strong season with the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season. The brothers could open 2017 together in New Hampshire, but that would present an interesting dynamic as both play primarily at second.
The sky isn’t completely falling on the Blue Jays playoff chances as they still have approximately a two-thirds likelihood at playing a 163rd game:
ICYMI: The Jays Nest Podcast, episode 92
They were simpler times on Tuesday night when Shaun Doyle of Jays From the Couch and I recorded episode 92 of The Jays Nest Podcast. Past our discussion of the Yankees brawl that cost the Blue Jays Joaquin Benoit, we discuss the future of John Gibbons with the team if they are unable to reach the playoffs.
Happ’s unexpected breakout
The potential has always been there with J.A. Happ, but his breakout season with the Blue Jays has left his teammates impressed. They’re not necessarily surprised, though.
“He radiates calm,” R.A. Dickey told The Toronto Star’s Brendan Kennedy. Without elite velocity or even much variance in his fastball speeds, Happ has remained inches ahead of opposing hitters all season long and should rank very highly in American League Cy Young voting.