The Optics Towards .500

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


With the Jays having an "Up & Down" type of June, the main topic of discussion amongst the fanbase is when the team will finally reach the .500 mark. As it currently stands, the Jays are 2 games below the goal, sitting at 33-35 (.485) and have failed to take advantage of games that we have otherwise felt were winnable (i.e. the series against Chicago). Moreover, the Jays have found themselves swapping players on the roster for those coming back from the DL, hindering their depth and forcing the need to bring up players from the minors that would otherwise still be in development. By doing so, it makes it increasingly more difficult for the Jays to reach the .500 mark. But it should also be noted that, with a week full of games ahead, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the Jays can both attain and eclipse the goal, changing the description of their month of June from "Up & Down" to "Solid."

This was a strong discussion point in the conversation I had with Ryan of Jays Droppings on the first episode of The Weekend Hangover Podcast (even though my math was severely flawed, initially) as we looked at the schedule ahead. If we're taking it series by series, in order for the Jays to reach the .500 mark, they would need to take three out of the four games against the Rangers in Texas. This is obviously no easy feat, as the Rangers are currently sitting at .500 (34-34) and have won 7 of their last 10 games; two of those wins were against the red-hot Houston Astros in Houston. Although our gut-reaction is to scoff off the Rangers due to the history they have with the Jays and regard them as chokers (which... ya know, they pretty much are...), it shouldn't be discounted how important this series is and also shouldn't be taken lightly.

If you want to look at the positives, what immediately stands out is that the Jays will avoid facing Yu Darvish, and will also close out the series facing Martin Perez, who has been having a June I'm sure he'd like to forget (7.07 ERA, 21 hits, 11 earned runs, 6 walks, & 12 strikeouts over 14 innings). On the flip side, the Jays will have Estrada, Liriano, Biagini, and Stroman - respectively - on the hill during the season, which offers reason for optimism, despite Biagini's most recent outing (I don't want to talk about it... and I'm sure you don't either). Of the 4 starters for the Jays that are scheduled to face Texas, only two have faced them previously this year; Estrada and Biagini. Earlier in May, Estrada had a strong outing, pitching 6 innings giving up only 4 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts and picking up the win. Biagini's outing was also pretty good, even though it unfortunately resulted in a loss - 6 innings, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts. Given that Liriano has been pitching strong as of late, and also finding it hard to not trust Stroman, there's a lot of room for optimism in believing that the Jays could finally reach the .500 clip during this series. Given the history of the two teams, along with the... um.... "incident" that occurred in Texas last year, there's certainly no love-loss between these two teams, and hopefully the Jays can use this as motivation to reach their goal (what can I say - I'm a fan of intangibles. Judge me!). 

However, immediately following the series in Texas, the Jays travel to Kansas City to face the Royals for three games over the weekend. With no off days coupled with the woe of traveling, this series may be a bit more challenging than the aforementioned one against Texas in terms of fatigue. Coincidentally, the Jays and Roayls currently have the exact same record in a division that looks eerily similar to the AL East in terms of how close of a race it is. During this series, the Jays are scheduled to face Jake Junis, Jason Vargas, and Jason Hammel respectively. Junis has been struggling during the month of June, holding an ERA of 6.75 while giving up 22 hits, 15 runs (12 of which were earned), 4 walks, and 13 strikeouts over the course of 16 innings. Given the fact that the Jays face Vargas - who has been having himself quite the year thus far - the following day, they would have to capitalize on Junis' struggles in order to take the series. Now, I'm not saying that the game against Vargas ought to be regarded as an inevitable loss for the Jays; afterall, this is baseball. However, I'd be hard pressed to regard Vargas as a non-factor. He's certainly going to be a challenge. Closing out the series for the Royals, however, is Jason Hammel who, despite having regular season numbers that would are easy to brush off, his June numbers are telling quite a different story. During the month of June, Hammel has an ERA of 2.21 giving up 17 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, and 15 strikeouts over 20.1 innings. Given the Jays recent struggles, this series against Kansas City will be regarded as a test for the team that they can hopefully overcome. 

It should be noted, though, that the Jays will have Happ, Estrada, & Liriano - respectively - to combat the Royals during the series, so it shouldn't be viewed as an insurmountable obstacle. If the Jays can take the series in Texas and ride that momentum in Kansas City, the optics of the team will certainly shift from middle of the pack to a team that can certainly compete for at least a Wild Card spot. 

Currently, the Jays are only 2 games back from said spot, and it's not at all beyond the realm of possibility that they can make up enough ground to claim one of the Wild Card positions. Further, with Aaron Sanchez continuing his rehab process, throwing a bullpen session this past Friday, the Jays may find themselves in a better position to not only claim a Wild Card spot but also hold on to it. I know after a series against a team the Jays should have beaten (White Sox) it's hard to feel positive about them facing teams that are much more challenging, but we've seen the Jays work their magic before. For now, the goal is to keep chipping away towards .500, then towards a Wild Card spot, and then, who knows?! Maybe even the Division!!

OK, let's not get too crazy (yet).


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 14

Episode 14 of the SOT6 Podcast is now up. In it, I expand on the news regarding the Toronto Blue Jays that has occurred this past week. Topics are:

  • Yankee series.
  • Francisco Liriano off the DL.
  • Martin's Neck Issue.
  • Schedule ahead.

Music:
Intro: "Welcome" by Anitek
Raptors: "Kerouac" by Tab & Anitek
Intermission: "Lonely Spider" by Cullah
Blue Jays: "City Breeze" by Tab & Anitek
Outro: "Blue Bloods" by Aulx Studio

As always, I appreciate your ears and word of mouth for this podcast and website. Honestly, sharing is the best thing you can do for any independent blogger/podcaster, so I am in your debt if you do this for me. I'm trying my best to keep this podcast completely ad-free, as I know how annoying it is to constantly hear ads about Square Space, Harry's Shave Club, Blue Apron, or whatever. I'm not about that life. I do this completely out of my own pocket. I do this for fun, enjoyment, and the opportunity to connect with fellow fans, such as yourself.

You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, and/or Stitcher by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking the respective icon. Any suggestions, criticisms, or compliments can be issued by visiting the Contact section of the site. Or, hit me up on Twitter @ACorsair21, or @SouthOfThe6ix (or both!). I'm always looking to improve and cater to you guys, the audience. 

Thanks for listening!

Russell Martin Dealing With Neck Issue. Will Not Play Friday 6/2

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


Well here's some unfortunate news, via Arden Zwelling of SportsNet 

Yep. 

It's definitely not something you'd like to read, especially after getting crushed by the Yankees the night before. However, if there's one thing to hold your hat on it's notion that the Jays are taking the cautious approach. Rather than forcing the issue and prioritizing a bounce-back win over the health of one of the more pivotal pieces of the roster (and feeding the DL Beast), the Jays are allowing Martin a day of rest. 

Another positive is that, according to Zwelling, the current neck issue is unrelated to the one that put Martin on the DL earlier this season. Now, not being a medical professional and being a complete layman, I consider this to be a good thing. Perhaps when Zwelling says "issues" it could just be a common stiff neck or perhaps he slept on it wrong. I don't know. But the fact that he hasn't exacerbated his previous injury leads me to believe that this probably won't be a long-term thing.

Regardless, it's going to be the Luke Maile show tonight, so hopefully the other bats can mitigate that a little.

Don't freak out. I'm sure it's probably nothing... right?


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Eating My Words: Justin Smoak Edition

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


With the amount of attention that was given to both Justin Smoak's contract extension and the loss of our previous primary first baseman, it was easy to be a bit discouraged with the aspect of having Smoak be inserted into the lineup on an everyday basis prior to the start of the season. For most of Spring Training, the conversation regarding the position was centered around a preference of having either Smoak or Steve Pearce at first base, with a good chunk of people vocalizing their trust in the latter due to the performance that Smoak gave in 2016. With Pearce having some experience at the position, plus the possibility that Kendrys Morales may be able to fill in from time to time, the choice seemed simple enough; with the type of offense that we expected the Jays to produce, Pearce could mitigate the hole that they clearly had at the corner well enough that it wouldn't cause too much of an issue. Further, having a new player that we weren't really familiar with (Pearce), it was a bit easier for us to throw our eggs in his basket rather than wrapping our heads around the thought of having someone we've seen time and time again play on a daily basis.

Full disclosure: I was one of those people.

However, with Smoak taking the reigns at first base for the vast majority of the season thus far, I think it's only fair that we (well... I guess... I) man up and admit that he's exceeding the expectations that were vocalized and, given enough playing time and at-bats, he has been and still may be better than we anticipated.

Numbers don't lie. We hear this often, but given that Smoak has been pretty reliable since the beginning of the year, it's worth looking into a bit more. Granted, it's only been two months of the season thus far, so perhaps it's best to compare his April & May numbers from 2016 to those of 2017. However, by doing so, we must also be aware that Smoak didn't have as many at-bats and didn't play in as many games as he has thus far, for obvious reasons. Maybe that throws this whole analysis off more than a little bit, and that's fair, but it's still worth looking into. So check it out, via Baseball-Reference.com - 

April 2016

Smoak played 21 games, started 10 of them, with 37 at-bats and 48 plate appearances. He had a line of .189/.375/.216 with an OPS of .591. He produced only 7 hits, 3 runs, 0 home-runs, 4 RBIs. 10 walks (21%), and 18 strikeouts (37.5%), 

Not that great, but again, with only 48 plate appearances, it's fair to expect him to fail to fall into a groove and be unable to produce as well as we'd like him to, ideally. Smoak only played first base in 16 games that month, while only logging 5 complete games at the position. It did get better in the month of May, however.

May 2016

Smoak played 29 games, started 24 of them, with 94 at-bats and 104 plate appearances. He had a line of .309/.375/.521 with an OPS of .896. He produced 29 hits, 12 runs, 5 home-runs, 9 RBIs, 10 walks (10%), and 27 strikeouts (26%).

The production spiked perhaps because his usage did as well. Smoak played 27 games at first base, starting in 23 of them at the position. It's important to remember that he wasn't the only player that was available and capable of playing first base, as we all know. 

What may be surprising to some, his numbers thus far have been eye-opening and  his production from this time last year has been quite the jump. To boot -

April 2017

Smoak played 25 games, started 19 of them, with 77 at-bats and 82 plate appearances. He had a line of .273/.305/.506 with an OPS of .811. He produced 21 hits, 7 runs, 4 home-runs, 12 RBIs, 4 walks (5%), and 19 strikeouts (23%). 

The polarity between '16 & '17 is evident. It's fair to suggest that Smoak may have been motivated with his contract extension and perhaps put in some extra work in the off-season to tweak a few things. But perhaps being the only real option to rely on at first base, he took the ball and ran with it; using it as motivation and is riding it as long as it can. Also, it would have been fair to assume that Smoak would have fallen back to earth, as he did after May of '16, but that has not been the case. In fact, he's improved.

May 2017

Smoak played 27 games started 26 of them, with 93 at-bats and 107 plate appearances. He had a line of .280/.374/.570 with an OPS of .944. He produced 26 hits, 22 runs, 8 home-runs, 22 RBIs, 14 walks (13%), and 14 strikeouts (13%). 

Currently, Smoak leads the team in home-runs (12) and RBIs (34), and has a WAR of 1.0, which is quite the jump from his WAR in 2016 (-0.1). Further, he's only 2 home-runs shy of his total from 2016, has the same amount of RBIs already and it's only been two months in the books. Arguably, Smoak has been the Jays most consistent and productive hitter since the start of the season, with Pillar being the only one you could use to counter this claim. With this type of production, it's hard to find reasons to complain about the extension that was offered to him last season and maybe, just maybe, Smoak has found some sort of groove that he can more or less ride for the remainder of the year.

Now, I don't want to get in over my head here. Of course we would assume that this type of success and consistency is not sustainable. It's fair to expect a regress as we would with any other player. However, it cannot be denied that Smoak has more than exceeded our expectations and, along with Morales, is helping us cope with the loss of our beloved bird carrier quicker than we ever thought before the season began. Again, I was part of the camp that didn't want anything to do with Smoak being the starting first baseman, going so far as vocalizing my displeasure with thought while texting Ryan from Jays Droppings right at the dawn of the season. At the time, Pearce was the player to roll with in my mind, while also trying to rationalize a way to get Bautista into the mix to supplement the load. Looking back at it, I'm not sure why I was so dead-set on finding reasons for Smoak to not be included in the Jays everyday plans. I mean, could you imagine where we would be if the Jays actually did go with Pearce on an everyday basis? We'd not only be down one more everyday fielder to the DL, but the offense wouldn't be nearly as productive as it has been, leading to more games being lost, leading to us not experiencing this current sense of optimism for the Jays being back in it. Make no mistake - despite being in last place in the AL East, they are back in it. 

Obviously I don't consider Smoak to be the main reason the Jays are where they are right now. That's a stretch, I think. But if you told me that Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Martin, and Pearce would all be on the DL at some point in April and May, and Smoak would be one of the - if not the - most productive bat in the lineup producing the aforementioned numbers, I'd say you were crazy. But here we are. Apparently, not so crazy.

So with that, it seems a bit more than necessary to acknowledge that I was wrong about Smoak and how productive he would be in this lineup. Hopefully he can carry over this success in June and help propel the Jays up standings now that they're only 1 game under .500. This 4-game series against the Yankees this weekend is huge, I'm much more confident in Smoak starting at first and batting in the 5-spot of the lineup.

Humbly, I will eat my words. 


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Game 52 of 162 Takeaways

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


I'm going to try to post one of these little quick thoughts after as many games as possible. By doing so, I plan to list what I thought was worth highlighting, both the positives and negatives (but I'll try not to focus so much on the negatives unless they're glaring). With that, here are a few things that I noticed for tonight's game against the Reds on May 30, 2017 - 

  • Just like that - J.A. Haps returns from the DL to start for the Jays tonight! Slowly but surely, the core pieces are starting to come back together. Need more proof? There's this - 

Slowly but surely.

  • File this under the - "When did this happen?!" category: 

Apparently Mat Latos got released? OK then...

  • For the Reds, Asher Wojciechowski (yes, I had to Google search and copy/paste that. No shame. Judge me!) took the mound. Fun fact! When the Jays made that 10-Player Trade with Houston back in 2012 that brought J.A. Haps over for his initial run, they also traded Wojciechowski to Houston as part of the deal. Sort of serendipitous, no? 
  • Also, before I get into tonight's game - Last night? 17 runs off 23 hits?! A Tulo Grand Slam!? Russell Martin and Justin Smoak also hitting bombs? All day.
  • Soooo.... back-to-back home-runs to start the game. Yeesh.
  • BUT! Happ battled back with a 1-2-3 2nd. 
  • Happ wasn't as sharp as you'd like him to be, but being on a pitch-count and right off the DL, it was a good performance. Happ finished tonight throwing 81 pitches - 48 for strikes (59%), over 4 innings, giving up 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 strikeouts, and 3 walks. Given that he was scheduled to throw only 75 pitches, he retired the last 4 batters he faced and looked like he was beginning to fall into a groove. He also didn't look like he was suffering any set-backs, so there's that. 
  • 5th decker for Josh Donaldson! He DESTROYED that one! Honestly, if you didn't see it, it was absolutely gorgeous. 
  • Back-to-back in the 1st for Cincinnati? OK. Back-to-back in the 4th for the Jays! Bautista is seriously raking this month and it's coming at a great time!
  • Martin homers two days in a row! How can anybody not be loving this team?!?
  • Wojciechowski was sharp up until the 4th, serving some cookies which almost resulted in THREE consecutive bombs. Wojciechowski finished tonight throwing 69 pitches - 43 for strikes (62%) - giving up 4 hits, 4 earned runs, and 2 strikeouts in 4 innings. 
  • Danny Barnes relieved Happ in the 5th inning and was alright if you ignore the home-run to Cozart to bring the game within 1 run.
  • MORALES SAVES THE DAY!! Is it just me or has the past couple games felt like 2015? 
  • Osuna with the save. But of course!
  • Jays take it, 6-4.
  • Player of the Game: I want to give it to Morales for the tie-breaker, but that Josh Donaldson home-run was a thing of beauty. 
  • Getaway game for the Reds tomorrow at 12:37. Can't hate on daytime baseball while at the office. 

Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 13

Episode 13 of the SOT6 Podcast is now up. In it, I expand on the news regarding the Toronto Blue Jays that has occurred this past week. Topics are:

  • Sanchez Back to the DL.
  • Josh Donaldson, and Troy Tulowitzki Off the DL.
  • Happ's return is near!
  • Bautista and Travis are alive!
  • Jays are Turning the Corner!

Music:
Intro: "Welcome" by Anitek
Raptors: "Rolla" by Drake Stafford
Intermission: "Casets" by Drake Stafford
Blue Jays: "Faded" by Drake Stafford
Outro: "Blue Bloods" by Aulx Studio

As always, I appreciate your ears and your word of mouth for this podcast and website. Honestly, sharing is the best thing you can do for any independent blogger/podcaster, so I am in your debt if you do this for me. I'm trying my best to keep this podcast completely ad-free, as I know how annoying it is to constantly hear ads about Square Space, or Harry's Shave Club, or Blue Apron, or whatever. I'm not about that life. I do this completely out of my own pocket. I do this for fun, enjoyment, and the opportunity to connect with fellow fans, such as yourself.

You can subscribe on iTunes by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking the iTunes icon. Or, you can subscribe on SoundCloud by following the same instructions, just with the SoundCloud icon (obviously). Whatever's easier for you. Any suggestions, criticisms, or compliments can be issued in the comment section of this page. Or, hit me up on Twitter @ACorsair21, or @SouthOfThe6ix (or both!). I'm always looking to improve and cater to you guys, the audience. 

Thanks for listening!

 

See Corner - Turn Corner.

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


So the pieces are starting to come back together.

The Toronto Blue Jays will be reunited with two of the more pivotal pieces of their lineup in Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki to begin their series against the Rangers in Toronto. The importance of the duo returning to the lineup should not be understated, as their presence will not only provide a boost for a lineup that has held their own during their absence (to be fair), but also may provide a jolt of energy that the Jays may need to turn the corner and be the team we expected - and still believe them - to be.

However, let's not act like the Jays have been struggling too much without Tulo and Donaldson; they've actually performed better than we perhaps otherwise thought that they would. During the month of May alone, the Jays have won 13 out of 22 games, with their more notable players breaking out of their April woes, or carrying over their April success into the current month. Specifically, so far this month, Bautista has produced a line of .313/.421/.638, with an OPS of 1.059 in 95 plate appearances and 80 at-bats. Moreover, he has manufactured 25 hits, 18 runs, 7 home runs, 16 RBI's, with K% of 22% (21 total strikeouts), a BB% of about 14% (13 total walks), and he's reached base in 16 consecutive games going into tonight's against Texas. Compare this to his April performance, and it ought to be nothing short of encouraging. During April, Bautista had a line of .163/.302/.221, with an OPS of .523 in 106 plate appearances and 86 at-bats. His strung together only 14 hits, 12 runs, 1 home run, 6 RBI's, with a K% of 27% (29 total strikeouts) and a BB% of 15%. (16 total walks). If you thought that Bautista was washed up, or his age was catching up to him, or he just doesn't have it anymore, I hope that this evidence shows otherwise. 

It gets better when you look at Devon Travis and how he has improved from April to May, as well. Looking at Travis' May numbers so far, he has a line of .362/.375/.609, with an OPS of .984 in 73 plate appearances and 69 at-bats. He's produced 25 hits, 11 runs,. 1 dinger, 10 RBI's, with a K% of 19% (14 total strikeouts), a BB% of 1% (1 total walk), and he's also riding a 9 game hitting streak going into tonight's game. Taking a look at his April numbers, and he's not dissimilar from Bautista in terms of being encouraged by the improvements. In April, Travis had a line of .130/.193/.195, with an OPS of .388 in 83 plate appearances and 77 at-bats. He managed just 10 hits, 5 runs, 1 home run, 4 RBI's, with a K% of 19% (16 total strikeouts) and a BB% of 7% (6 total walks). 

Also, we can't ignore how well Kevin Pillar has been hitting, despite our projections before the start of the season. So far, he has been outstanding at the plate, laying off bad pitches and may have "figured it out" in terms of his approach and capabilities. What we perhaps thought would be short-lived success in April has carried over in the month of May. Thus far, Pillar has a line of .303/.353/.429, with an OPS of .845, producing 56 hits, 7 home runs, 13 RBI's, with a K% of 13% (27 total strikeouts), a BB% of 7% (14 total walks), over 202 plate appearances, and 185 at-bats. 

With this type of production and improvement from three of the players the Jays would expect it from during the absence of both Donaldson and Tulowitzki, it's hard to ignore that perhaps the Jays are starting to turn the corner that we've all been searching for since the start of the season. When you add Tulo and Donaldson into the mix and combine the production we know they can give to the likes of Bautista, Travis, Pillar, and others in the lineup that have also contributed, perhaps this is the break we've been searching for.

As I mentioned in this week's collaborative hijacking of Jays Talk with Ryan of Jays Droppings, in order for the Jays to get back "in it," in terms of fighting for a postseason spot, they're going to need to string together some winning streaks in order to get out of the April Hole they've found themselves in; a sentiment echoed by Ross Atkins this week. It's not impossible and it's certainly not something we should regard as highly unlikely, either. With how well key pieces have been hitting, in addition to how the bench has picked up the slack for the most part, perhaps the Jays are approaching a golden opportunity to turn it around.

Now, all of this is obviously easier said than done. Prior to getting swept by Boston, the Rangers had won 9 of their last 10, but these were against some ill-respected teams, if we're being honest. It's not that impressive when you're able to win a stretch of games against the Padres, Athletics, Phillies, and Tigers. When they had to travel to Boston and face a team that - even though we hate to admit it - provides some real competition, they lost each game by an average of 4.6 runs, with the likes of Drew Pomeranz striking out 11 in last night's contest (and this is DREW POMERANZ!). With the history these two teams have, and with how the Jays were able to utterly embarrass them in last year's ALDS, and with how the club is coming back home for the next 10 games, and with the return of Donaldson and Tulowitzki, and with the team riding a 3 game winning streak after just sweeping Milwaukee in their home field, it's hard not to get a little giddy. 

Looking ahead, the Jays have even more of an opportunity to gain some ground, as they host a struggling Cincinnati team for three games. The Reds have lost 7 of their last 10 (last night's game in Cleveland was postponed), Granted, they've averaged 5.6 runs per game during that span, so it's not something I would immediately scoff at. But with the Jays' lineup shaping up, and perhaps the addition of one of Happ and Liriano returning from the DL by the end of the month, the time is right for the Jays to take advantage of this opportunity.

So for now, let's get it! The Jays have been able to capitalize on the Rangers when it has counted before, and you better believe it counts right now!

They can see that corner, now they must turn that corner. Let's go!


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Jays Talk Hijack

For your reading pleasure, here is another collaborative piece from Ryan of Jays Droppings and Adam of South of the 6ix, answering the questions given to Mike Wilner on Jays Talk. This week, we cover the questions after both games from Tuesday and Wednesday, offering our perspective – whatever that may be worth to you.

As always, you can follow Ryan on Twitter @angry_jays and Adam @ACorsair21 & @SouthOfThe6ix. Our websites – even though you’re already on one of them – are JaysDroppings.com & SouthOfThe6ix.com.

With that, let’s get to it!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE AT JAYS DROPPINGS!


Silver-Lining For The Starting Rotation

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


Tell me if you've heard (or read?) this before: Aaron Sanchez was placed on the 10-Day DL with issues stemming from his right middle finger. 

It's unfortunate, specifically because of how well Sanchez has looked during his last two starts since his return from the DL with the same ailment. Pitching against the Mariners and Orioles, Sanchez totaled 11 innings, giving up 11 hits, 4 runs (3 of which were earned), 1 homerun, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts, accumulating an ERA of 2.45 during those two games. He looked pretty sharp and it seemed as though the issue was behind him (minus some visible blood after the start against Seattle), especially after the performance against Baltimore. Yet, I suppose blister issues are far more egregious than our intuition suggests them to be, and perhaps with his third visit to the DL for the same issue, the Jays may take their time with him and wait for this issue to be completely behind him. That's not to say that I think they rushed him to return after his previous two stints on the DL. But with the state of the rotation being a bit battered (to put it lightly), it's conceivable that they gave him enough time to be "good enough" in order to stop the bleeding (no pun intended) and offer a boost for the rotation. I'm not claiming to have any evidence of this - and I'm literally pulling theories out of my ass here, so don't quote me - but it wouldn't shock me if this trip to the DL lasts a bit longer than the 10-Day tag. 

But hold on! It's not all dark clouds and rain when it comes to the rotation, as Ben Nicholson-Smith offers a silver-lining for the other two members of the starting rotation that are currently on the disabled list; J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano. According to Nicholson-Smith, Happ may be approaching a rehab start for Dunedin in the very near future, as he threw 48 pitches (all fastballs) in extended spring training this past Saturday, topping his velocity at 92 mph but mostly sitting around 89-90 mph. Should the outing in Dunedin be successful and without setbacks, it's not out of the question that Happ could rejoin the team perhaps by the end of May. I assume that the main area of focus during Happ's rehab start will be how comfortable he is with his other pitches besides the fastball, and and how he later responds to the outing in terms of recovery. If the Jays like what they see, and he responds without a setback, we can hopefully see him sooner rather than later.

In addition, Nicholson-Smith offers optimism in regards to Liriano's recovery, as he suffered no setbacks after throwing a bullpen session last Thursday in Baltimore, albeit on flat ground. Liriano suggests that he is where he wants to be in regards to the timetable of his recovery, stating that the soreness in his shoulder is diminishing. That being said, it shouldn't be long until Liriano is able to throw a bullpen session off a mound, with perhaps a rehab outing shortly thereafter. 

It's not as quickly as we'd ideally like it to be, but the Jays' rotation may slowly be starting to piece itself together. For now, it is safe to say that Biagini and Stroman will handle starting duties for the upcoming two-game series in Milwaukee, with Bolsinger, Estrada, and Biagini again facing Texas during the weekend series in Toronto. Given how well Milwaukee has surprisingly been playing, I'm comfortable with both Biagini and Stroman taking the hill to face them. The weekend series looks a bit more intimidating, as the Rangers have won 9 of their last 10 games. With Bolsinger projected to take the hill in the opening game of the series, it may be one of those things that you hope for the best, but expect the worst. 

For now, take comfort in knowing that the return of Happ and Liriano isn't too far away, in addition to the Jays waiting until Sanchez's finger woes are fully behind him. Remember, I'm no doctor here, so it's possible that Sanchez may be 100% in 10 days - who am I to say otherwise? If that's the case, the entirety of the starting rotation that we anticipated at the beginning of the season may be reunited before you know it. After taking only 1 game over the weekend in Baltimore, I think we were all in need of some good news.

Fingers crossed, guys.


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Anthony Alford - Come On Down!

Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


With the growing list of injuries that the Blue Jays are currently dealing with, it was only a matter of time until they dipped a little deeper into their 40-Man Roster Well and wheeled up one of their top prospects. More specifically, with the loss of Darrell Ceciliani to the 10-Day DL due to a shoulder injury he suffered after smashing a home-run last night in Atlanta, the Jays have promoted top outfield prospect Anthony Alford from AA New Hampshire straight to the majors.

I don't know about you but this is very exciting; albeit, with the understanding that Alford's time in the majors may be extremely brief. You'd have to imagine that with Pillar returning from his suspension tomorrow, Alford would be sent back down to the Fisher Cats, offering the Jays a 1-day band-aid for an extremely short ride with the club. But still! With how the Jays have been teetering towards something of a breakout from their early season slumping woes, coupled with the injuries they have suffered through, having the opportunity to see a highly rated prospect like Alford is somewhat of a treat. With the way he's been performing in the minors - even if it's just AA ball - there's a lot to hang your hat on.

At just 22 years old, Alford was ranked the 55th best prospect in Keith Law's Top 100 Prospects List (Insider Only). So far this season in AA ball, he has hit very well, with a line of .325/.411/.455, and an OPS of .867 over the course of 123 ABs. He's recorded 40 hits, 11 RBIs, 3 dingers, 16 walks, 24 strikeouts, and has stolen 9 bags. Not too shabby.

Don't forget, though - the Jays did have Dwight Smith Jr. called up from AAA Buffalo to supplement the loss if Pillar while Ceciliani was in the lineup prior to his injury last night. The Jays may only use Alford tonight in an "as necessary" role, if at all. However, with how the injury bug has been sucking the life out of the Jays left and right, I can't confidently rule anything out. You just never know with these things lately!

So yeah! Anthony Alford! Welcome to the Bigs (for probably, like, a day... hopefully more)!


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