Monday, July 8, 2019

Ten weekly random thoughts: Week 14: July 1-7

Here we are the unofficial end to the 1st half of the 2019 season. The Blue Jays are battling hard for 4th in the AL East, 25.5 games back of the 1st place Yankees. The week started off with a resounding win on Canada Day over the KC Royals, taking 3 of 4 from the lowly KC squad. Then Boston rolled into town and took two of three from the Blue Jays, including an epic comeback on Thursday, where they erased a five run deficit with a 6-run 6th inning. Rafael Devers destroyed Blue Jays pitching with 7 hits, 4 runs scored and 9RBI in the series. Danny Jansen had his way with Boston pitchers with 7 hits, 6 runs and 6RBI. Freddy Galvis had a strong series vs. Boston as well with 7 hits, 2 runs scored and 4RBI. Brandon Drury had 5 hits, 2 runs scored and 2RBI. A great series for the offence. The last series before the all-star break was against the last place Baltimore Orioles. They got strong pitching from Andrew Cashner (3 hits, 1 run over 7 innings) and Dylan Bundy (3H 1R 2 walks over 6.2 innings). Chris Davis drove in three runs on Friday. The Blue Jays took the final game to go into the break on a positive. Looking ahead, the Blue Jays open the unofficial second half with a 10 day, 3 city road trip with stops in New York, Boston and Detroit. Here are ten random thoughts from week 14 of the MLB.

1. Let's start with Aaron Sanchez's situation. The Blue Jays righty made his final start before the AS break Friday, laboring through 5 innings. On Sunday, Sanchez reaches five years of MLB experience. This means Monday he can refuse a demotion to the minors. Sanchez is in the midst of the worst season of his career with a 3-12 record and a 6.16ERA in 19 starts this season. He had to leave several starts early with issues with the finger he injured last season in the zipper of his suitcase.A stint in the minors might be good for Sanchez to give him time to work on his mechanics and adjustments needed for his finger. What's more likely to happen is one of three things. The Blue Jays give Sanchez a few more starts to try and work through his difficulties. They could place him on the IL for a mental break and to try and right the ailing digit(s). A third option is to use an opener on the days he pitches. Ultimately, Sanchez should be in the bullpen.

2. Another pitcher with uncertainty is Marcus Stroman, who missed his final start before the all-star break and will skip the all-star game withe a pectoral injury. It's expected that Stroman will be ready to return, perhaps the first game after the all-star break. He has had a bounce-back season after a disappointing 4-9 record with a 5.54 record in 2018 in 18 starts. This season, he is 5-9 with a 3.18ERA in 2019 in 19 starts. Stroman should have more wins if he got a little run support. What happens if Stroman's injury lingers? He's expected to be traded at some point this month. Teams want to see Stroman healthy.

3. There has to be concern about the health of Randal Grichuk, who injured his back vs. Boston on Wednesday. Grichuk has been a stable presence in the outfield in a season where Eric Sogard, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Cavan Biggio have had stints in the corner outfield positions. None of the three are natural outfielders, but Gurriel Jr. is likely to remain in left full time due to defensive yips in the infield. Grichuk is batting .233 with 15 HR and 38 RBI  in 84 games this season. The team needs him back for stability in the outfield.

4. The Blue Jays rotation should be getting back a couple of arms soon after the all-star break. Lefty Ryan Borucki, who injured his elbow in spring training, began a rehab assignment in single-A on Canada Day. Borucki had a strong rookie campaign in 2018 with a 4-6 record and a solid 3.87ERA. Edwin Jackson is also nearing a return from a lower back strain. Jackson has struggled in a Blue Jays uniform going 1-5 with a 12-43ERA in 7 games (5 starts). Borucki will likely get the opportunity to start, while Jackson pitches out of the bullpen.

5. Another injured player who could return sometime after the break is outfielder Dalton Pompey, who sustained a concussion in a freak accident in the dugout where he slipped on some bats. The Canadian outfielder looked like he was out of the Blue Jays long-term plans last season. However, circumstances have changed with the early season trade of Kevin Pillar. Teoscar Hernandez has had a horrible season, batting .203 with 8HR and 25RBI. Like Gurriel Jr., he has had his own defensive yips and has 3 errors. Socrates Brito was even worse with just 3 hits in 39AB and struck out 17 times. He had 2 crucial errors in the outfield that resulted in runs. Anthony Alford is injured and is struggling in the International league. Jonathan Davis is batting .143 with 1 HR and 2RBI in 49AB. All these struggles open the door for Pompey to get a chance. It's up to him to take advantage of the opportunity.

6. Moving on, the sad news of the week in the MLB was the sudden passing of Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs, who was found unresponsive in his hotel in Texas last Monday. Skaggs leaves behind a wife, who he married in December, not to mention the numerous friends, coaches, teammates who he played alongside and against. I'm not even going to speculate cause of death here. It's a tragedy that his life ended at such a young age (27). He finished his 7 year career with a 28-38 and a 4.41 ERA in 96 starts for the LA Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks. RIP Tyler Skaggs, you will be missed.

7. Another sad news story arising this week is Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco revealed that he is fighting leukemia. My grandma had leukemia so I've seen the effects that type of cancer has on people. His record this season is 4-6 with a 4.98ERA, which is well below his standard. No doubt the fatigue associated with leukemia affected his performance in games. Here's hoping he recovers and is back on the field soon and kicking ass.

8. Let's do some midseason awards:

  • AL MVP: Anaheim Angels CF Mike Trout - .300 average, leads AL with 26HR, tied for 2nd in AL with 63RBI
  • AL Rookie of the year: Tampa Bay Rays 2B Brandon Lowe - .276 with 16HR and 49RBI 76 games played
  • AL Cy Young: Chicago White Sox RHP Lucas Giolito - 11-3 with a 3.15ERA in 18 starts
  • NL MVP: LA Dodgers RF Cody Bellinger - .344 with 30HR and 71RBI
  • NL Rookie of the year: NY Mets 1B Pete Alonso - .280 with 29HR and 66RBI
  • NL Cy Young: Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke - 10-3 with a 2.73ERA in 19 starts
9. Finally, with the All star game this week, lets look back at Blue Jays history with all-stars. For this point, I am looking at the main AS game only and the HR derby, not the futures game
  • First all star: OF Ron Fairly. 
  • Year with most all-stars 1993 (2B Roberto Alomar, OF Joe Carter, DH Paul Molitor, 1B John Olerud OF Devon White P Duane Ward, and P Pat Hentgen)
  • Most all-star appearances as a Blue Jay: Dave Stieb and Jose Bautista 6 each
  • This year will be unique in a couple of ways. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be the first rookie to take part in the all-star game festivities participating in the HR derby. It will also be the 1st time that the Blue Jays have not had a rep at the all-star game. Marcus Stroman was named to the  team, but he is injured and was replaced by Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka. The MLB should have picked Ken Giles so the Blue Jays would have a rep in the AS game, but that's just me. Note: Stroman will be in Cleveland but he will not play.
10. Blue Jay of the week: Danny Jansen: 10-27 with 6 runs scored, 7 RBI this week. He's made backup Luke Maile expendable at the deadline.