Blue Jays: The Good, the Bad and Not So Ugly in Texas
The Blue Jays left New York on a high after taking two of three games against a Yankees team that is predicted to win the AL East. Going into the Texas, many wanted to see a sweep of the Rangers or at minimum winning the series. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays hitters have not started to feed off each other and only a few players have put together a good start of the season. Add in one horrible start and the Blue Jays lost the series and drop to 3-3 on the early season.
Here is a look at the Good, the Bad and the not so Ugly in Texas.
The starting rotation put together two strong performances from Steven Matz and Hyun Jin Ryu. Matz started the first game of the set and pitched into the seventh inning, throwing 6.1 IP allowing just four base runners and one run while striking out nine. The southpaw started the game retiring the first nine batters, striking out six of those hitters. He would pick up the win and now surpasses his total in 2020 as he finished 0-5. His pitching performances in both Spring Training and on Monday have given a lot of confidence to fans and management.
Ryu started the final game of the series and pitched well enough to pick up the win, but the team fell short. Outside of some trouble in the second inning, which included a lead off home run to Nick Solak, Ryu stayed out of trouble during the game. Ryu’s ability to keep batters off balance shows why he is an Ace of the pitching staff. The veteran pitched seven innings, allowing seven hits, no walks and struck out seven. Ryu was taken out of the game after the seventh inning and 90 pitches, while I would have pushed him to at least start the next inning, I understand why he was taken out. I feel that with the depleted rotation you can lean on Ryu to eat more innings to save the bullpen. Ryu had only thrown 90 pitches with David Dahl and Joey Gallo leading off the eighth, both were left-handed bats and both had struggled against Ryu.
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All we heard during the offseason is how elite the Blue Jays offence was going to be; however, they have just not gotten things going. There are too many ugly swings, which was led in this series by Teoscar Hernandez who went 1 for 12 with just a single while striking out six times. There were many articles comparing Hernandez’s 2020 season to Jose Bautista’s 2010 breakout season, however, I don’t think Teoscar is quite at that level. It is still early on and he had a great opening series, here is hoping he gets things turn back forward this weekend.
The brunt of most comments by Blue Jays analysts and fans early on is directed at Tanner Roark. After a horrid 2020 season that saw him post a 6.80 ERA and 1.74 WHIP things did not get better in Spring Training. During the Grapefruit League schedule, Roark had four starts and surrendered 10 earned runs in just 10.2 innings pitched. Many had written off the second game of the series as a loss when Roark was penciled into the starting role. In just three innings, right-hander surrendered five runs, including three home runs and he was the benefit of throwing in a pitcher’s park as he surrendered some hard hit deep flyball outs. The question now is does Roark stay in the rotation before or after injuries to Robbie Ray and Nate Pearson heal?
Not So Ugly
When the Blue Jays signed George Springer there was almost immediate discussion that Randal Grichuk would be traded out of town for pitching help as many felt he was too good to be a fourth outfielder.
The early discussions and predictions regarding the Blue Jays line-up for the season was whether Randal Grichuk would be in everyday or would Rowdy Tellez get the bulk of the at-bats. However, with the early season injury to Springer, both players were written into the lineup and Grichuk has taken full advantage of the opportunity. In the three-game series, Grichuk played both centre field and right field defensively. At the plate, he hit 4 for 10 (.400) along with a walk with a pair of RBI. Grichuk has not only soared past Tellez (who has started the season 0 for 16), but is now pushing Hernandez.
The Blue Jays now head back to Florida where they will play host to the Los Angeles Angels at their current home field in Dunedin. The Angels have started the season 4-2.