Blue Jays: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Miami
The Blue Jays flew into Miami for a quick two game mini-series with the Marlins this week and flew out of town with a split. Here is a look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Series:
Another solid start by Julian Merryweather has many fans feeling a lot more excited about the prospect they got in the Josh Donaldson trade. Merryweather was used for the second time as an opener in the first game of the series and what he left you with, was wanting more.
Like his first outing, Merryweather pitched just two innings and was nothing short of dominant. The Marlins failed to gather a hit while striking out three times to one walk. Merryweather has now pitched 7.1 innings and has struck out 12 in that time while allowing just five base runners (two hits). In his first opener appearance he threw 36 pitches, which was followed up with just 31 in Tuesday’s appearance. I’m anxious to see if Charlie Montoyo lets him build up to 40 or 45 pitches in his next outing. The team is being cautious with the 29-year old as he is just two years removed from Tommy John Surgery.
The Blue Jays are starting to see a turnaround in Lourde Gurriel Jr’s hitting of late. Down in Miami, Gurriel Jr. led the team in hits and extra-base hits. He went 3-6 in the series while collecting both a double and what turned out to be the game winning two-run home run in the second game. Gurriel Jr. now has six hits over his last three games, and five of those are extra-base hits.
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We saw another solid outing from Hyun Jin Ryu on Wednesday night as he had his sixth straight start of pitching at least five innings and surrendering one or less earned runs. In the finale, Ryu threw six innings, striking out eight and allowing just the one run to pick up his third win of the season. Ryu has struggled to have quick innings and if he can improve in that aspect then we can see deeper games, which will help the bullpen have some rest.
It was unfortunate to see Randal Grichuk start to get back to his old habits of swinging at bad pitches. Grichuk went 0-8 in the series while striking out four times. Since hitting his extra-inning, game-winning home run on Sunday afternoon, Grichuk has gone 12 at bats without a hit.
It wasn’t the best introduction to the team for Jonathan Villar over the two game series. Since he was acquired from the Marlins on Monday he was able to get into the lineup for the Blue Jays immediately after the deadline. Villar struggled in the field as he made errors at both shortstop and second base, as well as some miscommunication with Teoscar Hernandez in right field on a shallow fly ball. While he did get two hits on Wednesday he erased both of them by getting picked off on the bases.
Anybody that watched the series has to know the ugly is an easy decision as the team was not good on the base paths. In just two games, the Blue Jays got thrown out four times. On Tuesday night Vladimir Guerrero Jr got caught falling asleep at second base and was an easy out when Josh Smith spun a throw to the base. Guerrero Jr. needs to be paying better attention in a spot like that, however first base coach Mark Budzinski has to help him out. The coaching staff has had too many mistakes so far this year.
In the second game of the series, as stated by the broadcast it was unclear what Villar saw on his first base hit, however he made a break for second base on a standard single and was thrown out easily. Later in the game while standing on third base, Villar got caught flat footed after a pitch and was picked off by the catcher. Again in this situation he needs a little bit of help from Luis Rivera to pick up on the third basemen coming in.
You would think that was as bad as you could get, however with Gurriel Jr. standing on first base, Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro blocked a ball in the dirt. Gurriel Jr. got caught half way between first and second, when he picked up the ball he did not know what to do and after freezing tried to return to first base. He must not have thought the throw was coming as he went back to the bag standing up. Again, Budzinski’s has to be on top of letting him know the throw is coming and to get down.
The Blue Jays will now fly into Boston for a weekend series that starts Thursday night which has an unusual five game series as they have a double header on Friday. What did you think of Villar and Robbie Ray’s debuts?