Blue Jays: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly against the Rays
The Blue Jays had a weekend to forget – well at least their bullpen had a weekend to forget against the Tampa Bay Rays as they got swept and lost all four games.
Here is a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The duo of Teoscar Hernandez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr has become arguably the most dangerous tandem’s in the Major Leagues, especially over the last few weeks. Over the four-game set, the pair combined to go 14 for 35 (.400) while slugging five home runs, scoring nine runs, and driving in 12. Guerrero now leads the American League in home runs (15) and is tied with Ronald Acuna for the Major League lead.
A few weeks ago, many would say that Marcus Semien was playing more closely to his 2019 season than his 2020 season but now I would say he is playing exactly like his 2019 season that saw him finish third in AL MVP voting. Semien collected four extra-base hits over the weekend, including a pair of home runs while also picking up his ninth stolen base of the season. His biggest hit of the weekend came in extra innings on Monday, as the team trailed by two and he responded with a home run to tie the game, but it would be for not.
It may come as a surprise if you didn’t watch the games and only looked at the outcomes, but the starting pitching was very effective. Although Ross Stripling didn’t start Monday’s game, I am going to include him in the starter numbers as he came into the game in the second inning and pitched seven strong innings on Monday. Stripling, along with Anthony Kay, Robbie Ray, and Hyun Jin Ryu threw 24.2 innings and posted a 1.82 ERA striking out 25 to just seven walks. Ray and Ryu both pitched into the seventh inning and should have picked up wins. Stripling had his best performance as a Blue Jay tossing seven innings without surrendering a run and allowed just four base runners on seven strikeouts.
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You can’t hide the fact that the bullpen was absolutely atrocious this weekend as they allowed 27 runs (16 earned) over just 16.1 innings (8.82 ERA). Those numbers include two perfect innings thrown by Jordan Romano, who helped things look better than what they really were. Every inning pitched this weekend by the bullpen felt like they were in trouble and throwing strikes was the biggest problem. In total, 18 batters were given free passes while they surrendered another 18 hits. I can’t even pick out one or two pitchers that were bad, as it was the entire group. Six different pitchers allowed at least three runs over the weekend with only Romano and Rafael Dolis failing to surrender a run. My feelings are the struggles are a combination of over usage and young arms that the rest of the league are getting used to. Either way, the club desperately needs some veteran help.
The bottom of the batting order really struggled this series as there was almost no offense coming from anyone below Lourdes Gurriel Jr in the line-up. Considering how successful the top of the order was, all the team needed was to get some runners on base from the 7-9 hitters. The bottom half collected just six hits over 52 at-bats (.115) and drew just four walks. Santiago Espinal struggled the most as he went 2 for 17 with six strikeouts and added a pair of errors. If the team could have turned over the line-up with a few more base runners, the bullpen would not have been much of a factor.
Not only did the Blue Jays lose four games to the Tampa Bay Rays, but they went 1-6 over a one-week span against AL East competitors. At the beginning of the week, Toronto was closing ground on the Boston Red Sox for first place and held the top Wild Card spot. Fast forward seven days and they now find themselves 5.5 games behind the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays and have to climb three teams in their division. If they don’t get things sorted out quickly, we won’t be talking about how great of a season Marcus Semien is having, we are going to be talking about what type of return the Blue Jays will get for him when traded to a competitor.
What solutions do you see to fix the Blue Jays bullpen?