Monday, June 25, 2018

ten weekly random thoughts: Week 12 June 18-24

Three months of the baseball season are in the books. The Blue Jays are 1 loss worse than their record this time last year (36-41). They are dealing with similar injuries as last year (Donaldson with his calf, Sanchez with his finger. Anyway, lots of news to get through, so without further ado, here are ten random thoughts from week 12 of the MLB.

1. The big news of the week was Roberto Osuna was suspended 75 games without pay, retroactive to May 8th, the day he was arrested. This means Osuna will be eligible to return on August 4. In his absence, Ryan Tepera has stepped up quite nicely, picking up 6 saves. Will Osuna be a Blue Jay when he returns? Yes he will because teams will not want to take a risk on him until he plays a few games to see how the suspension and alleged assault on his girlfriend will affect his play on the field. It's up in the air whether Osuna would return as the closer given Tepera's play.

2 It was a game of musical chairs for the  DL this week. Steve Pearce made his return to the Blue Jays lineup Friday. Pearce went 3-4 in his first game back and hit a huge 3 run HR in the 9th inning Saturday. His return creates  a log jam in the outfield with 5 players vying for playing time at three positions. Kevin Pillar is likely a lock in CF most games so LF and RF will be platooned between Randal Gruchuk, Curtis Granderson, Teoscar Hernandez and Pearce, It's very possible that somebody is moved in the coming weeks for younger assets.

3. Marcus Stroman made his return to the rotation Saturday after missing 6 weeks with shoulder inflammation.. He pitched 5 innings of 6 hit ball and he walked one batter. Stroman has to be happy with his game, probably his best start of the season. Hopefully he'll build on this start and get stronger as the season goes on.

4. Returning to the DL was Jaime Garcia with a recurrence of shoulder soreness. Garcia was slated to start on Sunday but was placed on the DL Saturday. As a 5th starter, Garcia has had good games (pitch 7 solid innings against Baltimore June 7) and games where you wonder if management regrets signing him (lasted only 3 innings vs. Atlanta).

5. Also heading to the DL is Aaron Sanchez, who left his start Thursday after just one inning with a finger problem deriving from apparently banging his finger against something on the way to the ballpark. Sanchez also has an issue with his landing foot that may be affecting his delivery. Sanchez is definitely not utilizing all his pitches. He is throwing his curve less, perhaps out of fear of causing another blister, and at times there has been minimal difference between his fastball and change-up. Expect Sanchez to be on the DL longer than the 10 days.

6. Reliever Danny Barnes was also placed on the DL with left knee tendinitis. Barnes pitchd 2/3 of an inning on the 21st. Barnes has been struggling a bit as a reliever and appears not to have his manager's trust. Barnes tends to be called upon in situations where the game is not tight. Expect Barnes to also miss more than the minimal 10 days.

7. here's something quirky: the Boston Red Sox have 2 more wins than the Yankees and yet are second in the AL East due to NY having a better win%. The AL East is almost certainly going to be between the Yankees and Red Sox with the loser hosting a wild card game. Given Boston's recent playoff history, you can bet they will do everything in their power to avoid having to play a wild card game. On paper, this looks like a very strong lineup, but anything can happen in sports.

8. If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Washington Nationals would be on the outside looking in. The Nationals currently have 12 players on the DL, including Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Jeremy Hellickson. Bryce Harper isn't doing himself any favors towards earning a big contract. He is batting .212 with 73 strikeouts. I think Washington will turn it around and make the playoffs, as they are 3.5 back of first place in the AL East and sit 1.5 back of a wild card spot.

9. Here's hoping the Seattle Mariners continue playing good baseball and earn their 1st playoff game since 2001, the rookie season of recently retired Ichiro Suzuki. The Mariners had a very good team in 2001, led by Bret Boone, who had 37 HR and 141 RBI. Edgar Martinez drove in 116 runs and had 23HR. Mike Cameron had 110 RBI and 25 HR. Their pitching staff was excellent, led by veteran lefty Jaime Moyer, who was 20-6 that season with a 3.43ERA. Ace Freddy Garcia was 18-6 with a 3.05 ERA. Righty Paul Abbott was 17-4 with a 4.25 ERA. Closer Kazuhiro Sasaki saved 45 games that season. The Mariners are being led by strong pitching this year and some timely hitting from the offensive. The Mariners have a strong hold on the second wild card spot with division rivals 6 games back. As long as Seattle keeps winning they'll be playing in October.

10. Blue Jay of the week: Steve Pearce who came back swinging in his first weekend back from injury. Pearce had 5 hits in 11 AB this weekend, including a big 3 run blast that led the Blue Jays to victory on Saturday.

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