Blue Jays: Gibby, we have a problem
The Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation and their constant propensity for not pitching late into games coupled with the continued offensive drought from a handful of starters has cast a shadow of doubt on the Jays chances this season.
The Blue Jays most recent four-game funk has seen their record plummet to 14-12 after an encouraging start to the campaign. They have seven of their last ten and find themselves nestled in third place in the division behind the Red Sox and Yankees.
The biggest cause for concern from the starting staff is Marcus Stroman who resembles a shell of his former self on the bump. Stroman sports an inflated 8.88 earned run average in his first five starts and hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of those outings. The 26-year old also has 15 walks which are not very typical of the hurler. Hopefully, he is still trying to build arm strength and get into a rhythm after missing part of spring training with shoulder inflammation.
Marco Estrada has not been much better pitching to the tune of a 6.00 earned run average. He has only made it past the sixth inning on one occasion and has surrendered seven home runs already in only five outings.
Jaime Garcia has been average at best with a 4.57 earned run average while Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ have been the only reassuring two who can be relied upon consistently at this point. Happ leads the staff in wins and strikeouts while Sanchez is at the top in earned run average and fewest homers allowed.
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The issue with the underperforming rotation is the bullpen has been taxed to no end during the first month of the season. There are seven relievers with 10 or more appearances thus far and Danny Barnes and Tyler Clippard already have 14 under their belt. A trend that cannot be reasonably sustained over the course of a 162-game season.
Along with the pitching, the likes of Devon Travis, Randal Grichuk, Kendrys Morales, Aledmys Diaz and Russell Martin all are hitting under the Mendoza Line and have virtually provided no offence with the exception of Diaz who has four round-trippers. To add insult to injury the 37-year old Curtis Granderson leads the team with a .316 batting average.
Grichuk is batting a dreadful .079/.192/.206 with 24 whiffs in 73 plate appearances and has been relegated to bench duties after having the starting rightfield job handed to him out of spring training. He would be in Buffalo already if he had any minor league options left but the Jays are reluctant to pass him through waivers at this stage of the game.
The anemic offense will heat up and Travis has shown signs of life recently, however, the slumping starters have opened the door for Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.to grab some of their playing time moving forward. The return of Josh Donaldson who has only played 12 games this season will also add some clout to the meat of the order when he returns off the disabled list.
Next: Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson to begin rehab games
When you crunch the numbers the Blue Jays are actually fortunate to be treading above .500 although they will need a life preserver very soon if these underwhelming performances continue from their core players.