SOT6 Podcast - Episode 56

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EPISODE 56

"PATIENCE IS KEY"

TORONTO BLUE JAYS talk

Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


Weekly Toronto Blue Jays Review/Preview

  • The Toronto Blue Jays are still riding high and surpassing our expectations. The difference between April of '18 and '17 is like night and day. It speaks to the amount of depth and research that the Front Office explored during the offseason, and it is certainly paying off tremendously. Still, there are some things that we should focus on - both good and bad - when it comes to our Jays. With the season still early, there's no reason to do anything rash, but it is still fun to investigate.
  • Joining host Adam Corsair to do just that is the Blue Jay Hunter himself, Ian Hunter, to talk all things Toronto Blue Jays. Ian and Adam explore a variety of topics such as Randal Grichuk's early struggles and how much of a leash he should be offered; Devon Travis' early struggles and why they are under the radar in comparison to Grichuk's; the difference in philosophies between the Anthopoulos era and the current Shapiro/Atkins era; Aaron Sanchez's monstrous start in Baltimore and whether or not this should ease any concerns regarding his blister issues; and finally predicting the upcoming series.

It's a Blue Jays centered show that you will not want to miss!

Follow Ian on Twitter: @BlueJayHunter

Visit Ian's work HERE

Music:
Anitek - "Pipes"
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"
Break The Dark - "Rain"


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


Patience With Grichuk

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


         Through 9 games this season, the Blue Jays’ new right fielder - Randal Grichuk - has just 2 hits in 30 at-bats, for an average of .067. He has hit a home run, but overall, Grichuk has really struggled so far with the Jays. He was acquired this off-season from the Cardinals in exchange for Dominic Leone and Connor Greene, and the hope was that he’d be the starting right fielder in Toronto for at least the next few years. Like I mentioned, he’s really struggled so far with the Jays, so just how long of a leash should the Blue Jays give Grichuk before they make a change?

         That leash should be pretty long for him. First of all, there’s no way he will continue to struggle this much as the season goes on; he’s going to get it going soon. Also, the Blue Jays gave up some good pieces to get Grichuk, so you have to think the team will be patient with him. And while there are some good outfield options in the minor leagues like Teoscar Hernandez and Dwight Smith Jr., the Blue Jays wouldn’t have gone after Grichuk in the first place if they wanted either of those guys on the team this year. Grichuk is here to stay with the big club, and it’s only a matter of time before Blue Jays fans see what Grichuk can really bring on an everyday basis.

         Grichuk will strike out a lot this season. He had a 30.1% K rate last season, which is way above the league average of about 20%. But, with those strikeouts comes a lot of power from Grichuk, who from 2015 to last season, had an average exit velocity of 90.8 MPH, ranked 24th in the MLB. These numbers show the overall hit or miss factor you get with a guy like Grichuk. He can hit the ball as hard as anyone, but he often struggles to make contact, and that’s what Blue Jays fans are going to have to get used to when they watch Grichuk this year.

          As of right now, Grichuk has been moved to a lower spot in the batting order, and I like that move by John Gibbons since it helps take some pressure off of a guy who is definitely nervous coming to a new team and a new city. Once he starts to produce like he’s capable of, I could definitely see Grichuk hitting in the 5th or 6th spot in the order. For now, I think 7th if 8th in the order is perfect. Patience will be key for Blue Jays fans in this situation. Obviously we all want to see him excel out of the gate, but that doesn’t always happen, and it’s our duty as fans to be as patient as possible and wait for Grichuk to start producing.


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 54

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EPISODE 54

"Over .500"

TORONTO Blue JayS talk

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


Weekly Toronto Blue Jays Review/Preview

  • The Jays started the regular season on a high note by taking 2 out of the 4 games against the Yankees, and 2 out of the 3 games against the White Sox. For the first time since 2016, the team is above .500 and despite concerns with the arm of Josh Donaldson, the team is looking pretty good! 
  • Joining host Adam Corsair to discuss what has transpired over the course of the first 7 games is good friend Ryan DiFrancesco of Jays Droppings and Blue Jays Nation! Ryan and Adam discuss topics such as our impressions with the starting five the first time through the rotation; the 2-on-1-off schedule for Russell Martin and Devon Travis; the crazy play from Curtis Granderson on Wednesday night against Chicago; the state of Josh Donladson; our predictions for the upcoming two series against Texas and Baltimore; and your Twitter questions!

It's a Blue Jays discussion you won't want to miss!

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanDifrancesco & @JDroppings
Visit Ryan's Work: HERE & HERE

Music:
Anitek - "Pipes"
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"
Break the Dark - "Rain"


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


Opening Weekend Reflections

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


          We’re only 4 games into the 2018 MLB season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at some of the positives and negatives that we’ve seen thus far from the Blue Jays. With the Jays starting 2-2, it’s hard to get too excited or be too disappointed in how they’ve played. But there were definitely some takeaways from the series, and that’s what I’m going to do in this article.

          Over the course of the first two games of the season, the Blue Jays only mustered a total of 5 hits off of Yankees' pitching. They also struck out a lot in those 2 games, and in the rest of the series. In fact, they’re currently 2nd in the MLB in strikeouts, with 45. The good news for Blue Jays fans is that the Jays figured out their hitting in the final 2 games of the series. After only getting 5 hits through the first 2 games, they got 21 in the final 2. They got production from everywhere in the lineup in those final 2 games, but most notably from the 3 spot, and Justin Smoak. On Saturday, Smoak went 3-for-4, with a double and 2 RBI’s. Then on Sunday, Smoak completely stole the show, going 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the 8th inning. As mentioned, it’s only been 4 games, but Smoak is doing everything he can to silence the “One-year wonder theories” that surround him. He’s picked up right where he left off last year, and if he can continue that, he’ll probably find his way to the All-Star Game for the 2nd straight year

        Another bright spot for the Blue Jays over the weekend was Kevin Pillar. After hitting well in spring, Pillar brought his hot bat into the regular season, going 6-for-13 in the opening series. Pillar also homered on Opening Day, and stole 3 bases in the 8th inning on Saturday, including a steal of home off of Dellin Betances. What I’m going to focus on the most from Pillar’s weekend was his speed on the basepaths. The Blue Jays only stole 53 bases last season, which ranked them 29th in the MLB. They’re not going to slug it out the way they’ve done it in past years, so the Jays need to find other ways to score runs. If Pillar can steal 20-25 bases this year, that could add an element to the Jays’ offense that they didn’t have last year.

      As for the pitching this weekend, I’d say it was a success. All of the starters had decent outings, and even though some people will say J.A. Happ had a bad outing, he really didn’t. Yeah, he only made it through 4.2 innings, but he only gave up 4 hits and 2 earned runs. It also doesn’t help when your left fielder drops a ball to start the game off, before you have to face Judge and Stanton. As for the bullpen, they were excellent in this series. Over the course of 13 ⅔ innings, the Jays bullpen only gave up 3 runs on 5 hits, while walking 5 batters and striking out 14. Probably the most impressive pitcher from the Blue Jays bullpen in this series was Ryan Tepera. Tepera pitched to 7 batters in this series, and retired all but of them. But, these weren’t just any 6 hitters; Tepera had to face Judge twice, Stanton twice, Neil Walker once, and Didi Gregorius once. And like I said, other than a walk to Stanton, Tepera was perfect against the Yankees best hitters, and if he can keep that up, he’ll be a key for the Jays down the road against other teams’ best hitters.

           Overall, it’s just great to have baseball back, but it’s also great that the Jays were able to pull things together this weekend and get 2 wins. It would’ve been demoralizing to watch the Jays get off to as bad of a start as they did last year, so these 2 wins were pretty big for the overall morale of the fan base. We can now look forward to this week, where the Jays finish off this homestand with a 3-game-series against the White Sox, and then travel to Texas to play the Rangers.


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


Opening Day Things

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Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


First and foremost - Happy New Year, everyone!

I write this with the Opening Day game underway with 6 innings completed. By now, you know that the Jays didn't put on the best of showcases, but that doesn't take away from the notion that it's finally baseball season and that, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing. That being said, there are a few things that ought to be addressed, and since the game is one that I think we'd like to forget, we might as well address them now. So let's get to it!

First, remember - baseball is a long season. This isn't football. This isn't basketball. The Jays dropping one game - the very first game at that - is mostly inconsequential in terms of what it means for them for the rest of the year, if not entirely. There are 161 more games to play, so anyone that is freaking out and declaring the Jays to be out of it or labeling them as hopeless doesn't really understand how the game operates. Moreover, it doesn't help that the Jays began the season by playing the Yankees! The Bombers didn't fail to flex their muscles and showcase why there is so much hype surrounding them, and it's a bit daunting to know that the Jays will be seeing the Yankees plenty more times this season. 

The bottom line - don't fool yourself. Don't fall into the thoughtless trap of concluding that the Jays are doomed after one game. This team is much better than it was this time last year and I do not see them having a terrible April again. Further, there are still three whole games in this opening series! Who's to say that the Jays couldn't capture the remaining three - or even take a split with the Yanks? It's not impossible, and to be this down and pessimistic after one game is just silly. Don't throw the towel in this early. Honestly, it's just lazy.

Despite the ugliness that has been displayed, there were still some things that you can hang your Blue Jays New Era Cap on. Yes, Happ gave up two earned runs, which came off a Stanton bomb in the 1st inning, but he was otherwise pretty good! Happ pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 4 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 5 batters! Sure, you'd like him to maybe go six or seven innings, but the 5 K's sort of makes up for the lack of longevity today. There's no reason to be alarmed with Happ's outing and I still have confidence in him moving forward. That pitch that Stanton blasted into the bleachers wasn't even a bad pitch; in fact, it was pretty good! But, unfortunately, Stanton is (really) good enough to do that to a pretty good pitch. That's the breaks, kids!

And hey - Pillar hit a home run! Who'da thunk it?! In all honesty, there's no surprise there. Pillar had been solid during Spring Training and there was no reason to believe that it wouldn't bleed into the first month of the Regular Season, at the very least. With the Jays trimming back on the power this season, and with Donaldson not feeling quite right (don't worry - we'll get to that!), it's nice to see a home run on Opening Day. However, overall the offense wasn't anything to write home about. With the Jays only producing 2 hits throughout the entire game, I get why people would feel down about the performance. The only thing you can do is hope that this isn't a sign of things to come. There's still plenty of time for the team to sort of get in the thick of things and establish some sort of stability. Just be patient.

HOWEVER! Let's address the elephant in the room, and maybe we should have seen it coming. To boot - 

Josh Donaldson, in terms of his throwing, did not look good at all. There were a handful of balls that were hit to him that were fielded beautifully, but thrown very, very gingerly. It lacked the zip that we are familiar with when it comes to the former MVP of the American League and there is most certainly something that isn't right with him. It was concerning enough for me that I was surprised that he was even fielding today, and this is assuming that it didn't interfere with his hitting at all (honestly, I'm not in a position to evaluate if it did or didn't). He did go hitless today, but I'm not comfortable saying that it was due to his shoulder issue. I'm sure it may have contributed, but not as much as people may want to think.

Regardless, in terms of throwing, he looked bad. So bad that it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up on the 10-Day DL very soon. It might serve both him and the team well to get some rest and get his shoulder right. I'd rather be without Donaldson for the start of the season, than have this issue linger throughout the season and worsen. Donaldson is imperative to the Jays' success this season - if they are to have any - and they need to be proactive when it comes to their best player. I know he wants to prove himself and earn that big pay-day, but this is doing more harm than good in that regard and for the team.

Fingers crossed.

In closing, although the Jays fell today 6-1 (oh yeah, the game just ended), for me to say "it's still early" is a crazy understatement! Just remind yourself that it's only one game out of 162. The bottom line is baseball is back! That, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing. Embrace it, dust yourself off, and set your sights for the next game.

Go Jays!


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 52

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 52

"ROUND TABLE SEASON PREVIEW"

TORONTO RAPTORS talk

Special ROUND TABLE Blue Jays Season Preview!

  • The regular season for the Toronto Blue Jays has finally arrived, closing Spring Training with a mammoth home run from what looks to be the brightest star in the Jays' future - Vladimir Guerrero Jr. With the spring giving us fans ups & downs, set-backs & bounce-backs, half-hearted yet optimistic predictions, and expectations of mediocrity, there's a whole lot to process and to organize. Thankfully, we have a Round Table to do that.

  • Joining host Adam Corsair is a fantastic group of baseball minds in freelance writer & die-hard Blue Jays fan - Curtis Panke, staff writer for Jays Journal - Brendan Panikkar, and host of the Waterboy Report Uncut Podcast and the Waterboy Report YouTube show, Luca Rosano to discuss all things Blue Jays! The group breaks down the most pressing issues that are on the forefront of fans' minds, such as the importance of the newly acquired depth and how it separates this year's team from previous years', how the Jays measure to the rest of the AL East, as well as the American League in general, what fans should be looking forward to this season, as well as our win-total predictions for the end of the season!

It's a special Blue Jays ROUND TABLE that you will not want to miss!

Follow Curtis Panke on Twitter & Instagram: @C_Panke

Follow Brendan Panikkar on Twitter & Instagram: @Panikkar37
Visit Brendan's Work HERE

Follow Luca Rosano on Twitter: @WaterboyReport
Follow Luca on Instagram: @TheWaterboyReport
Visit Luca's work HERE
Visit and Subscribe to Luca's YouTube Channel HERE

Music:
Anitek - "Pipes"
Break the Dark - "Rain"
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"


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


Lend Me Your Ears - Guest on the Jays Journal Podcast

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Follow Head Editor & Site Owner Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a fantastic Round Table discussion on the Jays Journal Podcast talking all things Toronto Blue Jays to preview the upcoming season.

Host Ari Shaprio organized the discussion and along with myself, guests Marshall Auerback and Richard Birfer participated in what was an in depth discussion on many topics. We touched on the team as sort of a hybrid product of both the Alex Anthopoulos and Mark Shapiro eras coming to a close, with the latter's vision beginning to blossom and come into the fold. We also touched on the Josh Donaldson topic and whether or not the Jays should resign him. Moreover, we spoke about the expectations that we have for upcoming season and what reasons fans have to watch.

It's a Round Table discussion that I'm sure you'll all enjoy!

Visit Jays Journal HERE

Follow Jays Journal on Twitter @JaysJournal

Follow the Host of the Jays Journal Podcast - Ari Shapiro - on Twitter @ari_shapiro

Follow Guest Marshall Auerback on Twitter @Mauerback

Follow Guest Richard Birfer on Twitter @richardbirfs


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 50

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)

EPISODE 50

"WITH BATED BREATH"

TORONTO BLUE JAYS talk


Weekly Toronto Blue Jays Podcast

  • Spring Training is just about finished up and the regular season is just around the corner. There certainly isn't a lack of content and conversation surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays. With so many other teams amping up their lineups, it's difficult to gauge just how the Jays will finish the year. Are they playoff contenders? Are they Wild Card contenders, at best? Or are they even contenders at all? How should the Front Office go about sparking interest to the casual fan if the team is projected to be mediocre? 
  • To explore these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by journalist and musician Chris Henderson of Jays Journal! Chris and Adam break down all the latest regarding the Blue Jays, such as the optics of the team, the importance of depth, the impact of the injuries, and of course - the dreaded Josh Donaldson debate.

It's a Blue Jays show that you won't want to miss!

Follow Chris Henderson on Twitter: @Baseball4Brains
Visit Craig's work HERE
Visit the Chris' Music Page HERE

Music:
Anitek - "Pipes"
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"
Break the Dark - "Rain"


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


Spring Training: Up Close & Personal

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


This past week, I was in Dunedin, Florida for Blue Jays Spring Training. I attended 3 home games, all of which featured some regulars that are a lock for the MLB roster, as well as some up and coming prospects and Minor League players. Each game had some things to take away from it, so in this article, I’ll take about some of those things that I noticed from my time in Dunedin.

Game 1: Tigers 3 Blue Jays 6

This game was the first one of my trip, and it got off to a great start for the Blue Jays, as they followed up a scoreless top of the 1st inning from Jaime Garcia with a 5-run bottom half of the inning. First, it was Curtis Granderson hitting his 4th home run of the Spring to the lead off the inning. Then later in the inning, Teoscar Hernandez hit a grand slam, which put the Jays up 5-0 early. They never looked back from there, as the pitchers were able to hold the lead in the end. The Blue Jays used 8 pitchers in total in this one, most notably Jaime Garcia, who made his spring debut. He went 3 innings, giving up 3 hits, but not allowing any runs. He also had 2 strikeouts. Other notable pitchers in this one included Al Albuquerque, who threw a scoreless inning and Canadian John Axford, who struck out the side in his inning of work.  

Takeaways

  1. Granderson as the leadoff man? Yes, it’s only Spring Training, but Curtis Granderson is swinging the bat extremely well right now. It may just be me overreacting, but I think Granderson would look good as a leadoff hitter. A left-handed bat at the top of the order is something the Jays have been searching for and if Granderson keeps up the hot bat, why not put him there? It’s something you can try for a few games, and if it doesn’t work, you can easily plug someone like Devon Travis in there instead.

  2. The Jays have a crowded bullpen. You know the old saying “You can never have enough depth?” Well, that applies to this years Blue Jays. They’ve quietly signed a lot of veteran relief pitchers, like Tyler Clippard, John Axford, and Seung-Hwan Oh to name a few. Obviously all of them won’t make the team, but the Jays are set up much better to deal with injuries this year than in years past.

Game 2: Pirates 5 Blue Jays 0

This game was about as boring as the score indicates, but there were still some things to take away from a Jays’ perspective. As for the game, Joe Biagini struggled in this one, giving up 5 earned runs in 1.2 innings, including 2 home runs. He gave up one run in the top of the 1st on a Josh Bell sacrifice fly, and then gave up 4 in the top of the 2nd. With 2 outs in the inning, Kevin Kramer brought in a run with a triple, and then the next batter, Adam Frazier, hit a 2-run home run. After that, Gregory Polanco hit a solo home run, which made the score 5-0, and knocked Biagini out of the game. Nothing much happened after that, although we did see some good outings from the Jays in the bullpen. Most notably, Luis Santos, who threw 2 perfect innings, including 2 strikeouts.

Takeaways

  1. Can we please keep Biagini in the bullpen? Please? Biagini’s outing in this game will have no impact on his future with this team, but it was another reminder that he’s probably not ready to be a full-time MLB starter just yet. He might make a start or two in April, depending on how much time Stroman misses. But once Stroman’s back, I really don’t see a reason to start Biagini, even in the minors. His most effective outings have been in the bullpen, and as long as there’s no injuries to the rotation, I really don’t see a reason to keep experimenting with Biagini as a starter.

  2. Luis Santos could be a dark horse for a bullpen spot. This outing was one of many good ones for Santos this spring. Overall, he’s given up 3 hits in 7.1 innings of work thus far, to go along with the 2.70 ERA he posted with the Jays in September last season. I don’t see Santos making the team right out of camp, but if there was to be an injury to the bullpen early in the season, Santos would be a guy I look at as a potential call-up.

Game 3: Red Sox 6 Blue Jays 4

Yes, it’s only spring training, but watching Boston sports fans celebrate things is equally as annoying after a spring training win as it is after a playoff victory. For some reason, they just won’t shut up, especially when beer is involved. Anyway, to the game, this was actually a pretty exciting one. Both teams scored in the opening frame. The Red Sox went up 1-0 on a Rafael Devers RBI Triple in the top of the 1st, and then the Jays took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 1st when Justin Smoak hit a 2-run double. Then, in the top of the 2nd, Sandy Leon took J.A. Happ deep to left for a solo home run, which tied the game at 2. The scoring continued in the bottom of the 3rd, when Smoak hit an RBI double, which gave the Jays the lead back, 3-2. The rest of the game saw Sandy Leon hit another solo home run, while Blake Swihart and Aledmys Diaz also went deep. The final score ended up being 6-4 in favour of Boston. I have to say this game was the most exciting out of the three that I went to. Not only was there a lot of offense, but I was able to see some more regular Blue Jays out of the bullpen. Tyler Clippard, Roberto Osuna, and and Ryan Tepera all pitched in this one, and all three of them threw shutout innings.

Takeaways

  1. Kevin Pillar is hot at the plate. He had a perfect day, offensively, in this one, going 3-for 3 with a walk. This wasn’t a one-time thing though, as Pillar has been swinging a hot bat all spring. He currently owns a .448 average in 29 at-bats, including 4 doubles. We obviously can’t expect him to hit this well in the regular season, but if Pillar can anywhere in the .270 to .290 range this season in terms of batting average, it will help out the Blue Jays big time. Pillar will likely slot in near the bottom of the order this season, so if the Jays can get some production from him, that will be huge. It will mean his speed is one base away for Donaldson and Smoak at the top of the order.

How will the Jays structure the bullpen? With so many pitchers being brought in that are used to pitching in late-game scenarios, the Blue Jays are going to need to figure out who pitches in what spots. Roberto Osuna is a lock to close games, but other than that, it’s kind of a mystery. Seung-Hwan Oh had 20 saves last year, Clippard saved 32 games in 2012 and John Axford saved 46 games way back in 2011. We obviously can’t have 4 closers, so the Jays are going to have to decide who pitches in the late innings. What I would do is use Biagini in the middle innings, use Clippard or Oh against righties in the 7th, Loup against lefties, and then use Tepera and Osuna in the 8th and 9th innings respectively.


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 47

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 47

"DOWN THE PIPELINE"

Toronto BLUE JAYS talk

Toronto Blue Jays Talk

  • The Blue Jays Spring Training is well underway, with a lot of injury concerns surrounding them. Troy Tulowitzki remains a question-mark for the team to start the season, as well as Marcus Stroman. Stroman, to his credit, did begin throwing and the Jays seem to be taking a cautious approach in terms of his rehab. Yet, injuries aside, the Jays seem to have the depth - both within the big league and minor leagues - to mitigate these concerns. Moreover, they aren't done making moves as they acquired veteran pitcher, Tyler Clippard.
  • To discuss these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Craig Borden of Jays Journal and the host of the Jays Bird Watching Gamecast! Craig and Adam break down the importance of depth down the pipeline for the Jays, the importance of consistency from Kevin Pillar, how vital it is to be patient with Stroman's recovery, and much more! 

It's a Blue Jays show that you won't want to miss!

Follow Craig Borden on Twitter & Instagram: @Craigers1221
Visit Craig's work HERE
Visit the Jays Bird Watching Gamecast: @BirdWatchingGC

Music:
Anitek - "Pipes"
Break the Dark - "Rain"
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"


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