Monday, April 22, 2019

Ten weekly random thoughts: Week 3: April 15-21

The Blue Jays had a good week taking 3 or 4 from the Twins, and sweeping the Oakland A's. Unfortunately it wasn't all good news. Matt Shoemaker was lost in the bottom of the third inning to a gruesome looking knee injury, conformed Sunday to be an season-ending torn ACL. Freddy Galvis and Eric Sogard continue to impress. Top prospects Vladimir Guerrero Jr is expected to be recalled this week and his major league debut. The team is holding him back to get multiple games in a row in. Due to increment weather and scheduled off days Guerrero Jr. Junior has essentially been playing every other day. Both the future and the present look bright. Here are 10 random thoughts from week 3 of the MLB.

1. Let's start with the big news of the week. On Saturday, Matt Shoemaker took to the mound looking to win his fourth game of the season. He was in a run-down trying to catch A's baserunner Matt  Chapman. As he tagged Chapman out, Shoemaker appear to land awkwardly on his left foot and his knee buckled on him. Shoemaker  hopped several times on his right foot before teammates helped him down to the ground. As trainer Nikki examined him, you could see the frustration on Shoemaker's face. MRI results Sunday confirmed the worst possible outcome: torn ACL, which brings his season to an end. The free agent signing had been pitching very well to that point. Hopefully he uses this latest adversity as motivation and comes back next season as strong as he started this one.

2. The next inning, the Blue Jays very nearly lost Sam Gaviglio to an injury. Gaviglio came in for Shoemaker in the beginning of the top of the bottom of the fourth. Seven pitches into the inning, Gaviglio threw a pitch and appeared to be uncomfortable. Assistant trainer Jose Minstrel came out of the dugout and briefly spoke with Gaviglio. Thankfully the Blue Jays reliever was able to finish the inning and throw three more innings.

3. Sunday was just as bad for the Blue Jays with injuries. Starter Aaron Sanchez was knocked out of the game with a broken fingernail. Sanchez has had chronic issues with blisters, broken fingernails, etc. and that has caused him to miss significant time. Expect him to go on the IL this week and miss at least one start.

4. In the ninth inning, Freddy Galvis appeared to strain his hamstring diving for a ground ball. He stayed in the game for two more batters before being removed with two outs in the 9th inning. It may have been a precaution, but if Galvis needs to miss a few days, it's the perfect opportunity to recall Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Galvis has been the Blue Jays best hitter and arguably the best free agent signing. Hopefully the injury is minor and he misses just a few days.

5. The good news on the injury front is Ryan Tepera made his regular season debut after missing the first couple of weeks with an elbow injury. Tepera pitched a perfect inning Thursday striking out one. His outing Sunday wasn't so up 3 runs on 1 hit and a pair of walks in his customary role as setup man. Tepera will likely pitch in the 7th or 8th inning of a close ball game.

6. And then there's this crazy double play. With one out and Justin Smoak at first base, Teoscar Hernandez laced a fly ball that was going to go for a home run, but then A's CF Ramon Laureano robbed Hernandez by leaping over the wall to snag the sure opening runs. He then overthrew it back to first base (Smoak was basically back safely at this point), A's catcher Nick Hundley quickly corralled the wild throw and threw a strike to second base to nail a sliding Smoak. The whole play might have been moot had Smoak had the presence of mind to stay put. Instead, he didn't think Hundley would get to the ball so quickly and took off for second base. Smoak is among the slowest runners in all of baseball, so an unwise decision to advance on his part.

7. Just before I leave the craziness of the weekend series behind, I just want to comment briefly on two incidents that took place during Saturday's game. On two separate occasions, fans stupidly elected to hop the fence and run onto the field of play. The second fan got onto the mound and nearly grabbed the ball out of the pitcher's hand. First of all, never go onto a field of play, it's dangerous. Second, it's disrespectful to the players and other fans trying to behave and have a good time. In the past, TV stations used to give these idiots their fifteen minutes of fame and show them running around on the field. The past season or two, I've notice that Sportsnet doesn't show the streaking fan, but will keep their cameras on the players. Hopefully these "fans" are barred from the stadium for a long time.

8. Now that we're a couple of weeks into the season, we are starting to get a feel for Charlie Montoya's strategy with the offence. So far, he has used the sac bunt more often than John Gibbons did in almost a full season. On Sunday, he also put on a double steal. In both cases, it put runners at second and third and directly manufactured runs (a batter after Bily McKinney bunted to move Rowdy Tellez and Danny Jansen up a base, Alen Hanson drove in Rowdy Tellez with a single. A pitch after the double steal, Randal Grichuk drove in Hanson with an infield single). Look who's first in the AL East, Charlie Montoya's previous team the TB Rays, who regularly and effectively use the sac bunt, steal baaes, and even do the occasional suicide squeeze. I like watching home runs too, but you don't need to win by 50 runs, you need to win by 1 run. Also, pitchers can take away the long ball by pitching lower in the zone. I want to see more of this strategy in the coming weeks.

9. Finally, let's end things off this week by looking at flame throwers. Here are the hardest throwers for each team. It's interesting that some of the pitchers on this list are starters, like Justin Verlander and some are closers, such as Ken Giles. Yu Darvish has run into injury troubles perhaps due to throwing too hard. What would be interesting to look at is the strikeout-walk ratio of these flame throwers. Giles in particular can have control issues at times. It's one thing to be able to throw so hard, it's another to consistently get it in the strike zone

10. Blue Jay of the week: Eric Sogard. The recent call-up this week had 9 hits in 22 at-bats with a pair of runs scored and 5 RBI. He has a smart baseball mind and is patient at the plate. He'll be around for a bit if he keeps this kind of play up.