Blue Jays: Three Takeaways from the opening series
By Jeremy Wilks
The Toronto Blue Jays opened their season with a 2-1 series win over the AL East favorite New York Yankees. It is very early to be discussing takeaways, however, three games in, there are several positives that can be taken.
These are a few things that were noticeable throughout these games and could be a sign of things to come this season.
Here are THREE takeaways from the first series:
The bullpen could be a lot better than many people were expecting.
The Blue Jays opened the season with several questions regarding this bullpen. With the recent injury to newly acquired closer Kirby Yates, the Jays are looking for someone to step up in that closer role. Enter Julian Merryweather.
Merryweather came into two of the three ballgames this series, pitching 2.0 innings while striking out five of the six batters he faced. He got credit for two saves and looks electric on the mound. Another arm out of the pen that pitched exceptionally well in the opening series was Jordan Romano. Romano also threw two innings of zero-hit ball in this series. The Blue Jays bullpen was nothing short of spectacular in this first series. If the Blue Jays bullpen can be solid this season, it will go a long way in their hopes of competing.
Starting pitchers are going to have to go deeper into ball games to be sustainable
The Blue Jays bullpen was lights out in the opening series but had to throw a lot of innings. Over the course of a 162 game season, the Blue Jays cannot sustain this amount of pressure on the bullpen. Hyun-Jin Ryu looked outstanding on opening day but only pitched 5.1 innings. Ross Stripling pitched 3.1 innings in game two, and T.J. Zeuch pitched 4.0 innings in game three.
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The Blue Jays starters gave up a mere five runs over the course of this three-game series so they pitched very well. But it is going to be awfully difficult for a team to sustain this success if their pitchers are not getting deeper into ballgames (especially with the lack of depth in the Jays rotation).
Vladamir Guerrero Jr. could be in for a big year
Vladamir Guerrero Jr. is coming off a solid second season in the majors, playing in all 60 games last season. Vladdy has continued to improve and looks to be on track for a break-out season. After hitting exceptionally in spring training, he has picked off right where he left off hitting .333 with a couple of walks to bring his OBP to .500.
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the off-season improvements and weight loss of Vladdy throughout this off-season. If he continues to play at the level he played at in spring training and to start the season, this could be a breakout year for the young star. Three games into the season is not nearly a big enough sample size to see where this season is heading, however, this could be a sign of things to come.