Jansen's Continued Success & Other Jays' Notes

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


         Since being called up last Sunday, Danny Jansen has been raking at the big league level. Jansen has recorded a hit in each of his first 6 games in the majors, and is currently hitting .381 with a home run and 3 RBI's. He’s also put himself onto a pretty interesting list in the Blue Jays' franchise record books. By recording a hit in his first 6 games, Jansen has put himself into a tie for the longest hit streak by a Blue Jay player to start their career. The record is held by Jesse Barfield and Ryan Goins, who both had an 8 game hit streak to start their career.

         It’s been nice to see Jansen succeed this much, because a few of the Jays’ other rookies had a rough time over the weekend in New York. In his 2nd MLB start, Sean Reid-Foley only lasted 4.1 innings, while giving up 6 earned runs on 7 hits. And then the very next day, Ryan Borucki - who was lights out in the MLB prior to this start - lasted only 0.2 of an innings, while giving up 6 earned runs on 4 hits. Reid-Foley has since been optioned back to Triple-A, but will definitely be brought back up with the big club again this season.

         In other news, the Blue Jays announced that Wednesday’s starting pitcher against the Orioles will be Thomas Pannone, who has pitched a few times out of the bullpen for the Jays, but has yet to make his debut as a starter. I’m interested to see how that goes, because I could definitely see Pannone being a lefty specialist out of the bullpen with his good curveball. But I also think it’s his intention and the team’s intention for him to be a starter going forward.

         If Pannone is able to succeed as a starter this year, he could definitely challenge for a spot in it next year. So far, I think there are 3 locks for next year’s rotation: Stroman, Sanchez, and Borucki. That leaves 2 spots up for grabs, and I do expect the Jays to sign a free agent starter this off-season. That will probably mean that the 5th starter position is battled for by Reid-Foley, Pannone, Sam Gaviglio, and probably others as well. If they’re all healthy, then I think that the Jays will have a great rotation next year, but that is a huge "if." Sanchez and Stroman can lead this rotation very well, but they’ve both battled injuries throughout this season, and they haven’t been able to get out there every 5 days as much as the Blue Jays need them too. Sanchez has especially battled injuries, as he’s now had 2 straight years where he hasn’t pitched consistently, and that’s been really frustrating for the team and the fans.

        Another interesting bit of news regarding the Blue Jays is that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been promoted to Triple-A and may join the Jays over the weekend. Gurriel Jr.’s knee injury could not have come at a worse time for him, as he was in the midst of an 11-game multi-hit streak (he had at least 2 hits in 11 straight games). The record for consecutive multi-hit games is held by Rogers Hornsby, who had 13 in a row in 1923. It’ll be interesting to see where Gurriel Jr. plays next season. I would expect him to start the year with the Jays, and honestly, with the way he’s hit this year, I’d put him at shortstop to start the 2019 season. We probably won’t see Bo Bichette in the MLB to start next season, so I’d like to see Gurriel get some more time at short. If the Jays need to, they can move him to 2nd or 3rd.


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How Do the Blue Jays Spell Success in the Remaining Games?

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Article Written by Craig Borden (@Craigers1221)


The Toronto Blue Jays have had an abysmal few months of baseball and are currently 32.5 games out of first place with a 55-68 record. As of the close of the Yankees series this past weekend, the Jays have only been able to put two months worth of quality baseball together. In the month of April, they got all of our hopes up with a 15-10 month and had a resurgence in June with a 14-12 month. Outside of those two months, they have a 26-46 record. This team has been marred by injuries and under-performance all season. So how does this team take a positive out of a lost season?

I think there is plenty to play for through the remaining 39 Blue Jays games. Things can only get better for the team at the moment and we have seen a few hints of what is to come. This should be the Blue Jays' push for the remainder of the season as they shift their priorities to the next season. I have compiled a list of four solid reasons the next month of games can be crucial to the Blue Jays future.

Early 2019 Roster Auditions

It is no secret that the Blue Jays have been testing the farm system lately, as they should be. As I mentioned above, this is a lost season as the Jays are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. They have already seen the successful debut of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who prior to being injured, was pushing for a Major League record of consecutive games in a row with multiple hit performance. This streak is still intact while he is currently on the 10 day DL at 11 straight games with multiple hits. The talented middle infielder was batting .322 with 5 doubles, 7 home runs, and 22 RBI at the time of his injury. This is the kind of production the lineup has been dying to have all season and what they should be looking to see if they have in the Minor Leagues ready to make the leap.

Following the success of Gurriel Jr. was a promotion for Ryan Borucki, who has also been very impressive in his first 10 starts. Prior to his start Sunday against the Yankees where he did not escape the first inning, he had a 3.29 ERA in 52 Innings. That has inflated some after recording just two outs and allowing 6 earned runs in the game Sunday, but regardless he has shown he can be a big league pitcher. He has shown that he should be in consideration for the 2019 roster, just like Gurriel.

So how do the Jays continue this early audition period? Well, they have recently promoted Danny Jansen and Sean Reid-Foley, who they should continue to start as much as they possibly can. While Jansen has been catching, Russell Martin has been playing 3rd base which is a great idea to maximize playing time for both players. This is where the team needs to balance their playing time with the vets along with the rookies, but the Jays would do themselves a big favor by seeing how some of their close Minor League players can perform at a Major League level, while other teams are pushing for a playoff spot. I think most of the big names on the Buffalo Bisons should be in consideration for this as they clear the 40-man roster for some of these guys. The Double-A level and below should be left untouched as many of them are looking to make the playoffs and that experience will also be great for those players.

Get the Veteran Hold-Over Back on Track

Getting some of these rookies into the everyday rhythm is a great thing, but the Jays need to make sure the veterans that return next season are ready to go as well. Seeing Russell Martin hit again over the past few weeks has been a breath of fresh air. Players like him need to be getting at-bats so they can stay in solid shape for next season. Getting Martin right at the plate here in the last month will go a long way to him performing next season. Having him playing 3rd base has been a nice bonus as it has freed up some of his time to focus on his approach at the dish. It has been noticeable over the past few weeks as he looks like a pro-hitter rather than a bearded knight swinging a sword up there.

Another hitter that needs to continue to trend up after a rough season is Justin Smoak. Smoaky has been off from his break out All-Star performance a year ago, but has shown signs that he has adjusted to the game being presented to him. In the month of July, he popped out a .303/.374/.596 slash line. He also laced 6 homers and drove in 15 RBI. This has continued into the month of August thus far as well. Through 17 games, he is batting .281 with a .370 on-base percentage. Finishing this year strong will go a long way for the confidence of Smoak heading into a new season with a new look ball club.

The next thing the Jays need to test is some of the veterans they may want to resign over the off-season. This would include Marco Estrada, Tyler Clippard, and possibly Curtis Granderson. Estrada is more than likely the most likely to resign out of those players, but with his recent performance, it's fair to wonder if the Blue Jays interested. They need to keep getting him out their every fifth game to see what he has left in the tank. Estrada is currently 34 and heading for free agency at the end of the season. If he has a decent outing over his next handful of starts, he will be a welcomed asset for a team looking for solid starting pitching. The Blue Jays have very untested but talented youth in the starting pitching arena, but some of their best assets might not be ready until 2020. Estrada would be a great sign for the 2019 rotation if he can put a string of good performances together.

Clippard and Granderson fall into that great veteran presence but still have tons of heart and competitive juice left. These are the kind of players that are critical to a rebuild. They show the youngsters how to play the game at the MLB level and have fun doing it. Granderson still looks like he is having fun in the dugout, even when Gibby is getting tossed out of games at a record pace. Clippard and Grandy also put it all out on the field and are great examples of playing your heart out, which rubs off on all the players in the dugout.

Spoil it!

The Blue Jays may be out of the playoff race, but the American League is far from settled as we have seen with the Oakland A’s charging into relevance over the past month. The Blue Jays will have a big say in that race as they play host to the Astros during a 3 game set with just six games left on the schedule at the beginning of that series. At the moment, the A’s and Astros are tied for 1st in the AL West. Those are going to be big games for the reigning World Series Champs as they look to repeat. The Blue Jays could very well knock the Astros into a Wild Card spot or out of the race entirely depending on how the Mariners perform over the last month.

The Blue Jays will also be in the way of the Indians, Yankees, and Red Sox over the last month of the season. Sixteen of the Blue Jays' final thirty-nine games are against teams playing for playoff spots. While the Red Sox and Indians have a nice lead, the Yankees, Astros, M’s, and A’s are all in the thick of it. The Jays should use that as a motivation to take a bite out of some of the big teams; or at least spoil the fun for the Yankees!

Shoot for a .500 Record

This team has the talent and the proper schedule to make a run at a .500 record to finish the season. While 16 of their final 39 games are against teams possibly heading to the playoffs, 12 of those games are against sub .500 record teams. The rest are against the Tampa Rays, who are on the tipping point between a winning/losing record. The Rays always play the Blue Jays tough, and many of those games will be hosted in the Jays' personal hell that is named Tropicana Field.

The potential for a .500 record is not out of the realm of possibility and I think the young hungry rookies will play a big part in that. Danny Jansen has already been crushing the ball, while Martin and Smoak have been coming around. The Blue Jays are supposed to get Gurriel Jr. back shortly to go with Diaz and Travis, who have been putting together solid second halves to the season as well. The pitching has been better as of late with the addition of Borucki and there are hopes that Sanchez and Stroman can come back soon as well.

This is going to be an interesting end to the awful year of 2018 for Toronto Blue Jays baseball. This should be the prelude to what could be a very different looking roster to kick off 2019. The Blue Jays have the talent to run into next season and become quickly scary to their American League rivals. They should light that candle up now and show what is coming for this great fan base.


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Danny Jansen Joins the Jays

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


       After Yangervis Solarte went down with an oblique injury in Saturday’s loss to the Rays, the Blue Jays made the move to call up their No.3 prospect, Danny Jansen. Jansen was pulled in the middle of his AAA game on Saturday, and has now joined the Blue Jays in Toronto. He was on the bench for yesterday’s game, but I’d expect him to get some game action in the series against Kansas CIty.

       As the No.3 prospect for the Jays, and the No.73 prospect overall, there’s obviously a lot to be excited about with Jansen. In 88 games for AAA Buffalo this year, he hit .275 with 25 home runs and 58 RBIs. Jansen has also impressed defensively in his 6 year minor league career, only tallying 20 errors, and putting up a .992 fielding percentage behind the plate.

       Jansen is 23 years old right now and won’t turn 24 until April of next season, so this is about the perfect time for him to be called up. I’m not completely sure what his role will be this season - with Russell Martin and Luke Maile taking the playing time at catcher right now - but I expect Jansen to be the starting catcher for next year’s team. Russell Martin will probably still be on the team next year because of his expensive contract that will be nearly impossible to move, but I think Martin’s role will be diminished for sure.

     By keeping Martin and Jansen next year, the Jays would be getting rid of Luke Maile - who’s been good this year - but was never a long term option for the Jays. With Jansen starting, I think Martin could do a great job of mentoring the young catcher, while getting in the lineup every 3-4 days himself. Martin could also play some infield for the Jays if they need him to next season. All of that being said, the majority of the playing time behind the plate should go to Jansen next year. As for this year, I’d like to see him start to catch some of the guys that he’ll be partnering with down the road (Stroman, Borucki, and Sanchez once he’s back from the DL).

     Though it’s not official yet, the Jays are expected to call up another one of their top prospects tonight - No.10 prospect, Sean Reid-Foley. He should be called up to start tonight’s game in Kansas City. After a dreadful season in AA last year where he posted a 5.09 ERA, Reid-Foley has bounced back with a great season. He started the year in AA, where he went 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA. Then in 15 starts in AAA, he went 7-4 with a 3.50. So overall, he has a 2.98 ERA between the 2 leagues this season.

      Like I mentioned earlier, Reid-Foley will start against Kansas City tonight. The Royals are 35-81 right now and in the middle of a rebuild. I think it’s a good thing that he’s able to make his debut against such a bad team, because he’ll be able to sort of ease his way into things before his next start, which will be at Yankee Stadium.

       With both Jansen and Reid-Foley both being called up, a lot of fans are begging that the Jays bring up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as well. Guerrero is currently mashing in Triple-A, hitting .405, with 4 home-runs in his last 4 games, and has also made some nice plays at 3rd base. Now, I understand why there is outcry for Vlad Jr. in the big leagues from some fans. I mean, there’s still about a month and a half left of the season and people are just looking to get excited about something. The Blue Jays are not playing good baseball at all right now with their current roster, so a lot of fans want to see this super-prospect up and playing in order to bring some life back to Jays.

        Bringing Vlad Jr. up right now would definitely make the 2018 Blue Jays a better team, but there’s no reason to do that at this stage of the season. The Jays aren’t even close to the playoffs, so even if they were to go on an improbable run behind Guerrero and company, it wouldn’t make a difference, and they’d be wasting a year of Vlad’s service time. Instead, the Jays should keep Vlad in the minors, and bring him up in mid-to-late April next season, in order to keep the extra year of service time, and get him in the lineup for most of next year.


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Blue Jays Invade Seattle

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


       It’s that time of the year again. We’ve reached the part of the season where the Blue Jays visit Seattle for their annual home series away from home. It’s really amazing to see, because for Blue Jays fans that live in Western Canada, this is their only chance to see the team live, and they sure make the most out of it. It started off as something small, but now it’s gotten so big that the Blue Jays themselves are endorsing it with #BlueJaysInvade.

       The 2018 edition of the Blue Jays Seattle series began last night with a great ballgame. The game was destined to be a strange one, with Tyler Clippard starting for the Jays, and it ended up taking a turn that no one saw coming. The hero of the game was 28 year-old Mike Hauschild, who made his Blue Jays debut and made it count by throwing 6 scoreless innings, while racking up 5 strikeouts and only allowing 4 hits. Now, I’ll be honest, I follow the Blue Jays pretty closely, but I had no idea who Mike Hauschild was going into last night, and I’m sure the thousands of Blue Jays in attendance at Safeco Field didn’t know either. But, nonetheless, it was a great story for a guy who was looking for an MLB spot just a few days ago.

      As for the rest of the game, the Blue Jays' bats came alive late. With the game tied in the top of the 7th, Kendrys Morales took Juan Nicasio deep to right field for a 2-run shot to put the Jays up 4-2. The Jays then added some insurance runs in the top of the 9th, thanks to a pair of errors from Kyle Seager, and a pinch-hit 2-run bomb from Aledmys Diaz. That 7-3 lead held up in the bottom of the 9th, where Ryan Tepera finished the game off. Some other interesting notes from the game include a 4-hit game for Teoscar Hernandez, 2 RBIs for Devon Travis, and another hit in this one from Kendrys Morales, who somehow has his batting average up to .257; shocking, considering how bad his start to the season was.

     Looking forward to the rest of the series, there are some good pitchers that will throw. Today, the Jays will start Ryan Borucki, who currently holds a 2.83 ERA, but is still yet to record a big league win. He’ll be opposed by Marco Gonzales. Then, on Saturday, the Jays will throw Marco Estrada out there, while the Mariners start James Paxton, who no-hit the Blue Jays back on May 8th. We’ll see if Toronto can fare better this time. Finally, on Sunday we’ll see Sam Gaviglio take the mound against Mike Leake in the series finale.

    Some other notes from around the Blue Jays organization; AAA Buffalo Bisons: #1 Prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his AAA debut on Tuesday. So far, he’s recorded 2 hits, an RBI, and 4 walks. Also, yesterday’s starter for the Bisons, Jacob Waguespack, struck out 12 batters in 6.1 innings in his Bisons debut. Waguespack was acquired from the Phillies in the Aaron Loup trade, and doesn’t look to be anything too promising, with an ERA of 5.13. But  with prospects, you never know. One last thing of note from Buffalo is Sean Reid-Foley’s most recent start on Monday. Reid-Foley threw 6.1 innings, giving up just 1 earned run on 4 hits, while striking out 6 batters. Reid-Foley currently sits at #10 on the Blue Jays prospects list, and it’ll be interesting to see if the 22 year-old gets called up this year in September, or if the team waits until next season.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 71

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 71

"DEADLINE'S UP"

TORONTO BLUE JAYs talk

Toronto Blue Jays Talk

  • The MLB Trade Deadline has officially subsided and the Blue Jays ended up making a bunch of moves. In total, the Jays moved 6 players, bringing 10 back into the organization, 5 of which are pitchers & 5 are positional players, and 5 of the 10 are already slotted in the Jays' Top 30 prospect list according to MLB Pipeline. Although some of the moves were controversial, the vast majority of them improved the club and solidified some much needed depth that the Blue Jays can utilize at their will. 

         However, depth wasn't the only things desired. Conducting business with a moral compass            was certainly at the forefront.

  • To discuss these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by South of the 6ix contributor Craig Borden! Craig & Adam break down all the moves that the trade deadline, if Jays fans can expect any more moves in August, the ethical implications of trading away Roberto Osuna, and Vlad's recent promotion into AAA. Plus, Craig talks about his recent trip to Bluefield, VA to watch the Jays' minor league affiliate and what fans have to look forward to.

It's a Blue Jays Podcast you will not want to miss!

Follow Craig Borden on Twitter: @Craigers1221
Visit the Jays Bird Watching Gamecast: @BirdWatchingGC

Music:
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"
Audiobinger - "Shell Shock"
Audiobinger - "Rise & Shine"


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


A View From the Farm - Bluefield Blue Jays Pride

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Article Written by Craig Borden (@Craigers1221)  


I have had the pleasure of visiting many baseball teams over the years and all at various levels of competition. As for the Blue Jays system, the only team I have yet to visit is the Vancouver Canadians. I happened to be in the area of Bluefield, Virginia and couldn’t help but visit what has been a very talented team over the past few seasons.

I dropped a message to the radio voice of the Bluefield Blue Jays, Zach Helton, and mentioned that I was going to do everything in my power to be able to make the game on July 25 while I was in town. He was ecstatic that I was going to be able to visit and finally get a chance to meet in person. His energy got me excited for my visit as we talked the night before via text message as the game was rained out. Thus, the day I was to visit would be a doubleheader.

After completing my day job in Radford, VA, I jumped in the rental car and began the hour and a half drive to Bluefield. About an hour into my drive, the first game had started and I tuned into the radio to hear my buddy Zach call the game. The Bristol Pirates jumped out to an early lead, but was quickly answered by Alejandro Kirk in the bottom of the 2nd. Kirk destroyed the pitch to tie the game up and set the tone for the Jays' offense in Game 1.

An inning later, I had the pleasure of hearing a great call from Zach, as he painted a picture of an incredible play by Cal Stevenson. Cal went to the wall and completely committed to catching a fly ball, regardless of what that meant to him. You could hear the impact he made with the wall over the radio feed, as he pulled off a phenomenal grab. Cal would eventually get back to his feet and not only stay in the game, but contribute in a huge way the following inning. He laced a triple into center field to lead off the inning and would eventually score. The Jays were in flight with a 2-1 lead.

I got to the ballpark with a pair of outs in the top of the 4th and enjoyed a quick beer and a hot dog before I sat down in the stands to enjoy the great baseball culture in Bluefield. There were plenty of loyal fans in the stands, including one that I found out later to be known as "Double Out," who had been to nearly every game for years. dating back to before the Jays even were part of the Bluefield scene. I made sure I said hi to this particular fan on my way out after hearing some great comments, even from the announcers' booth during the game. This is how loyal these fans are in Bluefield about their sports and you can tell the players get into the game even more because of this enthusiasm.

The Blue Jays came up in the bottom half of the 4th and gave me a show complete with fireworks. After a nice single from Luis De Los Santos, first baseman Patrick Morris came up to the plate in a long ball state of mind. The pitch from Oliver Garcia was mashed over the right-field wall, and as Morris trotted around the bases, the fans went wild. Such a great environment for these young players to be getting into pro baseball. The family environment can be felt throughout the ballpark's fans, all the way to the ownership of the team. This dedication to teamwork and family has become apparent in the players that have had the fortune of playing in the Appy League with the Bluefield Jays.
 

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After taking in a few more innings in the stands, I decided it was time to go visit my friend Zach. He invited me right into the broadcast booth and we talked baseball between innings. We cheered as the Blue Jays tagged on a pair of runs in the 5th and 6th inning before things got interesting. The Pirates were able to mount a rally in the 7th inning and came within striking distance as they scored a pair of runs off of Joe DiBenedetto. Brad Wilson would come in and wrap up the game for the Jays in a 6-3 win.

Between games, Zach informed me that it had been a busy night in the booth and that I was not the only guest in town. Smokey the Bear threw out the first pitch and was a silent guest on the radio for the first game. Zach was nice enough to let me call Game 2 with him, but I was outranked by Grady Little in the second inning. During that conversation, I learned that Grady Little got his start as a manager for the Bluefield Orioles in 1980. It really was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet him. He told a great story from his time in Bluefield on the air that I will never forget. He mentioned that the team was going through a rough spot and was not hitting at all. He apparently got to the park early one day and stuck the players bats in the ground like tombstones. He told the team "the bad luck dies today," and sure enough, the team started hitting. You could tell he really enjoyed his time in Bluefiel from how he talked about it and helped shape him into a great MLB Manager for the Indians, Red Sox, and Dodgers.

Zach and I got to call a great game as the Blue Jays jumped out to an early lead in the first. Luis De Los Santos doubled home a pair on a ball hit hard to right field. The Blue Jays would slowly bleed out the lead over the course of a hard fought game. What shocked me the most about this team was they never stopped trying to get back into it. These young Jays players showed plenty of heart as they fought literally until the last out. I think this attests to the great environment that has been established for years in Bluefield. The fans love this team and the players put their souls into this game for them. They would lose Game 2, 5-2,  but they were never really out of the game. They were really just one timely hit short to get back into this one.

The ballpark is a great place to take in a ball game and has a feel you rarely see in typical stadiums. It is nestled in the mountains surrounded by the wilderness and had a great sunset during the game while I attended. I made the joke on the air with Zach that it almost has a Field of Dreams feel to it, just with a wilderness twist instead of the corn fields from the beloved baseball film.

This team has a ton to be proud of and this feeling of family is a thing of beauty. The ownership should be very proud of what they have built with this team. These guys clearly know how to have fun and put in a solid day's work. Plus, they get to watch the players that have since graduated from the team with pride and know that they learned how to play the game like professionals - the right way in Bluefield.


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 70

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 70

"THE TRADE DEADLINE"

TORONTO BLUE JAYs talk

Toronto Blue Jays Talk

  • With the MLB Trade Deadline just a week away, it marks a turning point for the Blue Jays and exactly what direction to intend to go. With trade chips such as J.A. Happ, Josh Donaldson, Roberto Osuna, and others, the Blue Jays as we have gotten to know them will (hopefully) look a whole lot different. Though some fans may not like the idea of seeing old faces in new jerseys, the light at the end of the tunnel will be the youth that brings this organization back into Championship contention where they belong.
  • To discuss these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views. Connor and Adam break down the possible trade candidates the Jays currently have, what the return may be, and what this means for the Jays' future. Plus, they discuss the incident involving the Toronto media and Marcus Stroman two weeks ago in Boston.

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers
Visit Connor's work: HERE

Music:

Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"
Chad Crouch - "Wide Eyes"
Audiobinger - "Cooling"
Anitek - "Nothin' Doin'"


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


MLB: Half-Season Review

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


With the first half of the MLB season coming to an end, I thought I would look at how each division stacks up currently. Playoff spots will likely change from now to October, but right now we have a pretty good idea of who the teams in contention for the postseason are.

American League East

This division is playing out like most people expected it to. The Red Sox and Yankees are by far the best two teams in this division, and the only question remaining is which one will win it, and which team will have to play in the Wild Card Game. Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Toronto are all miles below Boston and New York in terms of talent, and it’s pretty clear that this narrative will stay the same for a while. All three of Tampa, Toronto and Baltimore will be sellers at the deadline this year, with the biggest fish being Manny Machado of the Orioles. Machado is going to be traded by July 31st, but to where? Boston and New York are both interested in Machado, but teams like Philadelphia and the Dodgers are in the mix as well. Boston currently holds a 4.5 game lead over New York for top stop in the division, thanks to a good starting rotation led by Chris Sale and a pair of unreal seasons being put together by Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. The Yankees, on the other hand, are dealing with some injuries in their rotation (Tanaka & Montgomery), and are relying on quality outings from guys like Domingo German and Luis Cessa at the back of rotation. They’ve also been putting up with a very inconsistent Sonny Gray. That along with the injuries means they’ll look to trade for a starter at the deadline in order to fill one of their only holes.

American League Central

The A.L. Central might be the most boring division in baseball right now. The Indians are pretty much a lock to win it, with the closest team being the Twins with a 44-50 record, who have had an extremely disappointing season after making the Wild Card game last year. The rest of the division is filled with three rebuilding teams; the Tigers, White Sox, and Royals. I could see the White Sox being decent in a few years because of their deep prospect pool. But other than that, I don’t see any real threat to Cleveland for the next few years. The Indians are cruising to a playoff spot thanks to the usual greatness from Corey Kluber and Francisco Lindor, but also because of another very productive season from Jose Ramirez. Ramirez finished the first half of the season with a .302 average to go along with 20 home runs, 79 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. Cleveland will definitely make the playoffs as the winner of the Central. But once they get there, I don’t think they will fair well against the other A.L. teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros.

American League West

The A.L. West is a division that is far more competitive than the East or the Central. This division features four teams with above .500 records, and two teams that are currently in playoff spots. The Astros are leading the division by 5 games over the Mariners - who are having a great season despite not having Robinson Cano due to a PED suspension. This division also has the A’s and the Angels, who are both good teams, but both currently sit out of the playoffs. With one of the Wild Card Spots going to the Yankees or Red Sox, the 2nd place team in the A.L. West will play one of those teams in the Wild Card Game. Right now, the Mariners occupy that spot, but the A’s are only 3 games back of them, thanks to good seasons from Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Jed Lowrie, and Sean Manaea, who actually no-hit the Red Sox earlier this season. As for the Angels, they’re not having a bad year, but they just sit in a tough division. They’ve seen what a star Shohei Ohtani will be, and they’ve got Mike Trout as well, so I think they’ll be fine going forward. As for the Rangers, they’re pretty irrelevant right now, with the only interesting news around them being where they will trade Cole Hamels at the trade deadline. Like I said earlier, this is a very competitive division, but I still think there’s a team much better than the other ones. I expect Houston to pull away and win the West with ease. Their pitching staff, lead by Verlander and Cole, has been unreal, and they’re getting the normal production from the lineup. Maybe Houston adds a bullpen arm or two at the deadline, but other than that, I don’t really see any holes in their team.

National League East

This division is the one that’s probably surprised the most people so far. A lot of people expected the Nationals to run away with the division again, but instead it’s been the Braves and Phillies battling for the top spot in the division. Right now, the Phillies hold a 0.5 game lead on the Braves, and 5.5 game lead on the Nationals for the top spot in the division. Philadelphia has found their ace this season in Aaron Nola, who has a 2.30 ERA going into the break. They’ve also gotten a pretty good season out of Jake Arrieta so far, who currently holds a 3.23 ERA. The team they’re battling with - the Braves - has also surprised some people this year, and that’s largely due to the breakout season Ozzie Albies is having, as well as some great production from Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman. Like I said, the Nationals were expected to win their division this year, but so far, it hasn’t gone as planned. Max Scherzer has been himself, posting a 2.41 ERA, but the rest of the team hasn’t been doing their part. Bryce Harper is only hitting .214 on the season, and injuries have plagued Adam Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Murphy. I think Washington will pick it up after the All-Star Break, but the question for me is whether or not they will be able to catch Philly and Atlanta in the standings. In the basement of the division, you have the Marlins and Mets, who are both having abysmal seasons. The Mets started the season 11-1, but then completely fell off, and the Marlins are playing about as well as people expected them to, since they had a fire-sale in the off-season. I don’t expect either of these teams to improve any time soon, especially with the way Atlanta and Philadelphia have improved.

National League Central

The N.L. Central is a very close division at the top of it, with the Cubs leading the Brewers by 2.5 games. Chicago has had to overcome injuries to Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish, but they’ve been just fine thanks to some great production from Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, as well as another solid year from Jon Lester. The team behind the Cubs is the Brewers, who made some big addition in the off-season, with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. Both of those players have been great on their new team, and they’ve also been pleasantly surprised with 24 home runs from Jesus Aguilar. The weakness that the Brewers have is the starting rotation, so I expect them to be in the market for that at the trade deadline. At the 3 and 4 spots in the division, you have the Cardinals and Pirates. The Cardinals just fired Mike Matheny after a terrible weekend where the Reds destroyed them, so they’re looking to reset, and the Pirates weren’t expected to be good this year after they traded McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. So it’s a bit surprising that they’re only 9 games back. As for the last place team in the N.L. Central - the Cincinnati Reds - they’re having a very strange season. They sit at 43-53, but when you look at the leaders of the offensive categories in the National League, Reds players are all over it. Scooter Gennett leads the N.L. in batting average, with Eugenio Suarez 5th in that category. Suarez is also 2nd in the N.L. in RBI's behind Javier BAez of the Cubs. The fact that Cincinnati has these two players who are near the top of the league in these categories, to go along with another good season from Joey Votto makes it shocking that they’re last in the division, but their pitching has been pretty bad, so that’s what brings them down. In the end, I think this division will go down to the wire, but I think the Cubs will win it.

National League West

The N.L. West is the closest division in baseball; there are only 4 games separating the top four teams in it. The Dodgers lead the division, despite a season ending injury to Corey Seager, injuries to Clayton Kershaw, and an injury at the beginning of the season to Justin Turner. They’ve overcome those injuries thanks to a resurgence from Matt Kemp, as well as some unexpected production from Max Muncy. Only a half a game back of the Dodgers are the Diamondbacks, and then right behind them are the Rockies. Both the Diamondbacks and Rockies are within striking distance of the division, and I think a big deadline move is what could push one of these teams over the top. The Diamondbacks are another team tied to Manny Machado, and the Rockies could always use some more starting pitching. At the #4 spot in the division are the Giants, who are only 4 games back of the Dodgers. The Giants have gotten great years from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, who are both hitting near .300. The problem for the Giants has been the health of their starting rotation, with both Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto on the DL a lot, so they’ll have to get that figured out in order to compete for a playoff spot. At the bottom of the division are the Padres, who despite signing Eric Hosmer in the off-season are still a rebuilding team, and shouldn’t be expected to win for a few more years. It’s really hard to predict what will happen, but if I had to choose, I’d expect the Dodgers to win this one.


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Recap: Yankees at Blue Jays 7/6

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Article Written by Travis Aylward (@travaylward)


Coming into this series, it was all about Saturday's pitching matchup; Happ vs. Severino. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the series opener.

Game 1 of this three game  series featured Sam Gaviglio vs. Sonny Gray. As mentioned in the series preview, Sonny Gray has been struggling as of late, and that trend continued against Toronto. Gray pitched just 2 innings Friday night - his shortest outing of the season - giving up 6 hits and 5 earned runs. The Blue Jays did most of their damage against Gray in the bottom the 2nd inning. It started with a double by Randal Grichuk. Aledmys Diaz followed and instead of trying to do too much, he had a fine piece of hitting -- intentionally grounding out to Neil Walker to move Grichuk up to third. Devon Travis then singled to drive in Grichuk. Travis is later brought home by a Granderson single. Yangervis Solarte then gets on base with a single of his own. Solarte and Granderson are both brought home after Smoak homers on an 0-1 count.

Gaviglio on the other hand was cruising. He was getting 1st pitch strikes, his fastball was good, and he was mixing in his breaking ball which was also good. All was well, and then the fourth inning rolled around. Romine, Gardener, and Judge all singled to load the bases. Gaviglio then walked Hicks to bring in Romine from third. That was the end of Sammy G’s night after just 4.1 innings. John Gibbons then called in Joe Biagini to get out of the inning. Biagini got out of the jam by striking out Stanton and getting Gregorius to line out. Joe Biagini ended up pitching 1.2 innings where he gave up 0 hits, 0 runs, and didn’t walk a batter.

Following Sonny Gray’s departure from the game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called on David Hale from the pen. Hale was outstanding. There aren’t many relievers left that can give you multiple innings, nevermind 5 innings. Hale pitched 5.2 innings giving up only 5 hits. After Biagini came in and did his job, Loup, Oh, Axford, and Clippard managed to finish the final 3 innings.

Kevin Pillar went 1/3 on the night, while adding to his highlight reel in the top of the 2nd.

J.A. Happ takes the mound tonight against Luis Severino in the very anticipated battle of the aces. The outing starts at 4:07 PM EST and can be caught on Sportsnet.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 67

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 67

"REMEMBER JOSH DONALDSON?"

TORONTO Blue Jays talk

Weekly Toronto Blue Jays Talk!

  • With the lack of success that the Blue Jays are experiencing, it's hard to find things to look forward to. However, with the trade deadline looming, Jays fans are anticipating what will be coming their way to prepare the team for 2019 and beyond. Will big names be moved? Are the Jays strictly punting for the remainder of 2018? 
  • To tackle these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Ryan DiFrancesco of Jays Droppings and Blue Jays Nation, and Brendan Panikkar of Baseball Prospectus Toronto. The trio theorize as to what may transpire over the trade deadline and who may be on the move. Also, the topic of Aaron Sanchez's finger is discussed at great length. What's the deal with it and is it something that we should be worried about moving forward? Lastly, we talk about the return of Jose Bautista and our feelings seeing him in right field at the dome one last time.

All this and more on the latest episode of the South of the 6ix Podcast!

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

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

Music:
Scott Holmes - "Mountains All Around Us"