Monday, May 7, 2018

Ten weekly random thoughts: Week 5 Apr 30-May 5

The calendar has turned to May, the second full month of the MLB season. The Blue Jays had a busy week of games with a double header against Cleveland sandwiched between 2 three game series against Minnesota and Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays will be in a dog fight in the AL East with the Yankees and Red Sox looking strong the past 2 weeks. Here are 10 random thoughts from week 5 of the MLB.

1. The Blue Jays bullpen is still very overworked as the starters can't consistently pitch deep into the game. They need a pitcher who can pitch multiple innings in the bullpen. Currently, most of the relievers are 1 inning pitchers. Joe Biagini would be perfect as a long reliever/spot starter. He pitched into the 5th inning in the second game of the double-header on Thursday. He was pretty effective for the first couple of innings then the Indians hit him hard. To me, this indicates that his ideal role is middle/long relief and as a spot starter when someone is injured.  Last season, as the 5th starter due to Aaron Sanchez's ongoing blister issue, he made 18 starts and pitched 7 innings 3 times and 8 innings once. In April of 2017, he was used in a relief role and gave up 4 runs and 11 hits in 16 innings over 13 appearances.  This season in 2 starts, both in the back end of a double header, Biagini has pitched 10 innings, giving up 9 runs on 16 hits He's not a bad pitcher but he is being misused.

2. Another pitcher who is struggling on the Blue Jays is Marcus Stroman. Stroman had a difficult month of April, not making it past the 6th inning. His first May start was his best as he threw 7 solid innings. TSN's Steve Philips wrote this article on the struggles of Stroman this season. His next three starts are tentatively against Seattle, Boston and Oakland.

3. The Blue Jays depth in the outfield is being tested. Randal Grichuk was placed on the 10 day DL on April 29 after injuring his knee making a diving catch. Steve Pearce joined him on the DL after leaving the first game of Thursday's double-header with a rib injury that forced him to miss a game this week. Finally Curtis Granderson strained a hamstring running the bases in the first inning of Friday's game. Teoscar Hernandez has taken over in RF and one of Dalton Pompey or Anthony Alford will be in left field until the regular players are healthy. Henderson has been excellent since his call-up April 3rd. He'll likely remain with the club for the remainder of the season. Pompey and Alford will be sent back to Buffalo.

4. Jose Bautista made his return to the majors on Friday. He signed a minor league deal with Atlanta a couple of weeks ago. He hit a double off the wall in his first AB and finished the night 1-4. Bautista will be playing 3B instead of the traditional RF he played in Toronto. Check out his tribute to Toronto fans that he wrote on the player's tribune. Joey Bats and the Braves will be in Toronto June 19-20. Expect the Rogers Center to be rocking as fans pay tribute to one of the greatest players to wear a Blue Jays uniform.

5. Justin Smoak saw one of the strangest shifts deployed against him this week vs. the Twins. They moved the SS to LF and shifted the left and center fielders to the right. They had the traditional shift in the infield for a left handed batter. Smoak could have and tried unsuccessfully to bunt his way on base. It will be interesting to see if other teams try a similar shift against him.

6. Congrats to Albert Pujols on hitting his 3000th hit vs. the Seattle Mariners Friday night. Pujols is in the twilight of an 18 year career split between St. Louis and LA. He currently splits time at DH and first base. Pujols and the Angels travel to Toronto for a May 22-24 series. The last game of the series will be on Facebook only.

7. The LA Dodgers had a combined no-hitter with 4 different pitchers Friday. With the era of pitch counts firmly entrenched, solo no-hitters will be more and more rare and combined no-hitters will be more commonplace. Unless a pitcher is throwing a perfect game, managers are going to be more apt to pull them for a reliever in the later innings. It's a shame really because pitchers used to throw 120+ pitches in a game regularly with no ill-effects. I'm ok with having pitchers warming up in the 7/8/9 innings of a no-hitter in the event the pitcher loses the bid, but history should be made.

8. A feel good story took place in Arizona this week. Cory Hahn made his major league debut ... as a scout. On February 20, 2011, Hahn suffered a spinal injury sliding heads first into second base. He severed his C5 vertebrae leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. While he'll never play baseball again, he has aspirations to get into the managerial side of the game. Check out the story here.

9. The Blue Jays lost Aledmys Diaz to an ankle injury on Sunday. The play was eerily similar to the one that cost Troy Tulowitzki 2 months and counting. Expect the Blue Jays to take every precaution with Diaz. The good news is Xrays taken at the ballpark showed no fracture. However, ligament injuries can linger and be harder to rehab. Hopefully the extent of the injury is better than replays would appear to show.

10. Blue Jay of the week: Yangervis Solarte. In an injury-filled week, the nod for the weekly award in this post goes to the player who did a face plant running the bases and set a record for most hits in a double header (8). Hopefully the Blue Jays have better health luck next week.

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