Blue Jays: Estrada’s back, and it’s not too late to matter

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 05: Marco Estrada
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 05: Marco Estrada /

Marco Estrada had another strong outing on Thursday evening, making in three in a row for the veteran starter. It appears he’s found his groove again, and it’s not too late for that to much for the Blue Jays.

There is still a lot of baseball to be played in 2017, and there are plenty of reasons to keep tabs on the Toronto Blue Jays, whether they can claw back into the Wild Card race or not.

With a win on Thursday night, the Blue Jays took the three game series from the New York Yankees, and as of this writing they sit 4.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot. They’re going to have to go on a historic run to make up the current deficit, but the fact that the club is playing better baseball of late is a plus either way.

One of the reasons the team is playing a little better has been the performance of Marco Estrada, who was excellent against the Yankees in the series finale. He allowed just five hits through seven innings of work, walking three as well. If you were watching the game, Estrada was definitely passing the eye test, as his change-up was sharp, and he was inducing the kind of weak contact that Blue Jays’ fans have grown accustomed to from the Mexican born hurler.

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It would appear that he’s found his groove once again, and it’s not too late for that to be relevant for the Blue Jays in several ways. First and foremost, if they can find some way to get back in the playoff picture, improved starting pitching will go a long way to helping them pull off the improbable.

But secondly, the trade market still exists for a little under three weeks, and contending teams are keeping their eyes on the available options. As we all remember, Estrada was a popular topic of trade discussions prior to the non-waiver deadline on July 31st, and it’s possible the Blue Jays could be receiving calls about him this month as well, especially as he’s re-emerged.

It’s not known if the Blue Jays have already placed Estrada on the revocable waivers list this month, but if they haven’t yet there’s a good chance they will, even if they plan to keep him. Every August there are fans that get upset because they hear about their favourite players being on waivers, but things work a little differently in the summer months. GM’s are often interested in finding out what kind of interest their players may garner, and it’s easy enough to pull them back if another team puts in a claim.

If the August waiver process works in the Blue Jays’ favour, it’s possible they could still gain an additional asset by moving Estrada now. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season anyway, so losing him for a month and a half isn’t exactly the end of the world, especially if you can get some sort of return for him. Trading him in August doesn’t preclude the Blue Jays from bringing him back as a free agent either, as we saw from the Yankees with Aroldis Chapman last year.

So while it would have been nice if Estrada would have performed like this all year, or at least before the trade deadline so his trade value could have been maximized, it’s not too late for his improved performance to matter. In a worst case, the Blue Jays have another reliable starter in their stable, and with the revolving door they’ve had in their rotation and their bullpen, every inning eaten by someone like Estrada has value.

Next: Is there any scenario where Jose Bautista returns?

In a best case scenario, the Blue Jays maybe find another Teoscar Hernandez (I’m still pumped about that trade), and even have the opportunity to re-sign Estrada in the offseason, if they so wish. Having him back to being a confident producer on the mound has many benefits, and regardless of what happens it’s good to see him looking like himself again.