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Yesterday, Magpie wondered who would be the next Jays' starter to throw a complete game, noting that it hasn't happened since the Good Doctor was in town. Tonight, it almost happened.

Wait a second, why am I even talking about this? Who cares that Brett Cecil almost threw a complete game? Brett Cecil took a PERFECT GAME INTO THE SEVENTH INNING.

Cecil was masterful, not allowing a base-runner until Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo coaxed back-to-back walks with one out in the 7th inning. Cecil gave up his first and only hit one out later to Jhonny Peralta, which cashed in Cleveland's only run on the night. Cecil was perfect in the 8th and Game Over Gregg survived a hit and a walk to finish the game in front 10,112 - a positively Torontonian crowd. Cecil's game score of 84 bested Ricky Romero's 82 in his no-hit bid for the best-pitched game by a Jay this season, and ranks as the 7th best in the Majors this year. (The best, I was surprised to find out, was not Jimenez' no-hitter, because of all the walks he allowed; rather, it was Colby Lewis' complete-game three-hitter from last Friday.)

Speaking of game scores, ESPN has started keeping track of Hitter Game Scores and guess who's on top for the year? That's right, John Buck's 3-homer game. And Buck did it again tonight, sending one over the wall to raise his slugging percentage to .554, which even makes a .288 OBP acceptable.

Travis Snider (#4) and Jose Bautista (#5) also homered for the Jays. Snider added a double to his round-tripper, and look: Snider is fine. His BABIP is .151, despite the fact that his LD% is up more than 8%. That is a ridiculously low figure (the BABIP, I mean). He has also cut his K rate 8% and upped his walk rate 3.5%. It's a small sample size, but those are very positive signs. In fact, I'd say he's improved over last year, and not just a little bit. The hits will start to fall in, like they did tonight, and I'm guessing by the all-star break we'll be dreaming about his Cooperstown plaque again.
TDIB 04 May 2010: Don't You Forbrett About Me | 42 comments | Create New Account
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Hodgie - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 09:35 AM EDT (#214546) #
The homerun that Snider hit was ridiculous! From the crack of the bat to the time it dented the seats it might have been less than the 3 seconds Tabler speculated. It was impressive how long he stayed back on the pitch and then how quickly he got his bat through the zone - that is one very strong young man. Of course, despite the double and round tripper the bad luck also continues as he hit another line drive right at someone as well. With a really high IFFB% (23.8%) contributing to that low BABIP I had been wondering if a Wellsian uppercut had managed to work its way into Snider's swing since I had managed to miss most of the games this season. Judging by last night though it sure didn't seem that way, he really seemed to stay on top of the ball. Anyone that has seen more of Snider this year care to comment on his swing?   
Hodgie - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 10:34 AM EDT (#214551) #
One of the really encouraging signs for Cecil in my opinion is the confidence he has developed in his changeup in such a short time. His fastball was sitting at 93mph last night and touched 95mph while his change sat around 83mph. Little wonder there were so many ugly swings by the tribe. Small sample size warnings not withstanding, the 9.15 K/9 and 1.74 BB/9 numbers are sure nice to look at.
John Northey - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#214552) #
Interesting for attendance. Cleveland, after getting 42k on opening day have yet to crack 15k since. 5 in the 10k range, 4 in the 12-14k range. The Jays have had 46k opening day, 5 in the 10k's, 8 more sub 15k, and 3 in the 15-17k range.

Cleveland last made the playoffs in 2007, but lost 97 last year.
Kelekin - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#214560) #
I'm glad I picked Cecil up off the waiver wire for the last 2 starts. ;) But honestly, that change-up was amazing.  He came up being touted as a mini-Randy Johnson due to his fastball and slider, but most of what I saw last night was the fastball, curve, and change-up, or so I thought.  Did anyone notice he stoppd throwing the curve after the 6th?
jgadfly - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#214581) #

Cecil should sit down again with Tallet and have a physio therapist present to review throwing a cutter which is probably the pitch that created the problem with Tallet's forearm .

stevieboy22 - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#214585) #
It would be hilarious if Lubanski turned out to be good. Given KC's terrible draft history, for them to let go one of the few good picks would make matters worse...

China fan - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 05:26 PM EDT (#214588) #
One of the most encouraging signs of the Jays this season is the amazing difference between the pitching depth of 2009 and the pitching depth of 2010.  So far the difference is stunning.   A year ago, even with Halladay around, the Jays were forced to put a whole bunch of mediocre or not-yet-ready pitchers into the rotation:  Tallet, Mills, Ray, Cecil, Richmond, Purcey, Janssen, Burres.  I can't look back on most of those guys without shuddering. Some of them were talented,  but just not ready, while others just obviously didn't have it.  This year, the rotation is strong to begin with -- Romero, Cecil, Marcum and Morrow all look excellent, with Eveland as an acceptable 5th starter -- and the depth chart is incredible.  If there's an injury in the rotation, or if Eveland or Morrow begin to falter, there are Mills and Ray at Las Vegas, both looking much better than a year ago, and Drabek at AA, looking good as well.  Zep and Litsch will be available within a few weeks, Richmond soon after, and Tallet is just insurance.   The difference is like night and day.  And the genuine competition for rotation slots will keep everyone working hard.
martinthegreat - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 06:02 PM EDT (#214591) #
Watching Burres was just painful. He still seems to be making his rounds, pitching his usual 4 innings with 6 ERs
92-93 - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 06:15 PM EDT (#214592) #
Rosenthal tweeted today that the Jays offered Kelly Johnson more $ than Arizona to compete for an OF spot, but that he chose Arizona for the chance to stick in the infield...good to hear AA was heavily involved in a talented player whose stock had dropped and has already proven his worth this season.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 10:40 PM EDT (#214597) #
The print edition of the Star had a note that Zep threw 3 good innings in extended yesterday.  This is fun.
TamRa - Tuesday, May 04 2010 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#214598) #
Eveland or Morrow begin to falter, there are Mills and Ray at Las Vegas, both looking much better than a year ago, and Drabek at AA, looking good as well.

You might want to take a closer look at Bobby Ray before you say that.

Unless by "much better" you mean "actually pitching at all"

but even then, Ray's 24. 1 IP at Toronto in 2009 were marginally better than his 27.2 in Vegas this year.

China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 05:34 AM EDT (#214603) #
A year ago, Ray was an inexperienced kid who hadn't even put together a full season in AA and had never pitched a game at the AAA level. He was only a few months removed from High A.   He surprised all of us with an adequate few games in the majors, but it was something of a miracle.  This year, despite all of the injury problems last year, he's a year older and looks stronger.  He's part of the AAA rotation, and he's been doing well so far.  His ERA might not look impressive, but consider yesterday's game:  through 6 innings he had allowed only one run.  His ERA was inflated because he faded in the 7th inning and his bullpen didn't help him.  Of his 5 starts this year, 3 have been excellent, by any fair measurement.  One start was average, and only one of the 5 starts was bad.  He has major-league experience under his belt, and the challenges of last year have probably helped him.  I'd say he's better than a year ago.  But of course he ranks only about 9th or 10th on the depth chart for Jays starting pitchers (if you include the DL pitchers), which is another sign of the pitching depth this year.
Dave Till - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 08:02 AM EDT (#214607) #
I looked at the ESPN standings this morning and discovered, much to my surprise, that the Jays' run differential (runs scored minus runs allowed) was the fourth-best in the American League. Meditate on that for a bit, campers.

Of course, two of the three ahead of them are in the same division. Same as it ever was.

I find John Buck's hitting stats an endless source of fascination. 13 extra-base hits! 2 walks! 25 strikeouts! See ball, hit ball! Hulk smash!

Alex Gonzo Two is more of the same: 20 extra-base hits, 6 walks, and 28 strikeouts. And he's a shortstop. I'm finding that I want to keep watching now to see if this keeps happening. Maybe you can build an effective offense without any singles at all.

TamRa - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 08:33 AM EDT (#214609) #
I like Ray ok as a potential major league reliever, but it's not the ERA that worries me but the BB/K ratios. They have generally been strong through the system but not so much so far this year.

bpoz - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 09:08 AM EDT (#214613) #
I agree with you Chinafan we have very deep and overall excellent pitching. IMO right down to AA & the DL we got guys to plug in (no Brian Bures's). Bob Ray (7th round 2005)was outstanding in leading Auburn to the 2005 championship then he had 1 healthy season (2008). In 2005 J Litch's 1st year (Pulaski), Ray was maybe considered as good or better. So many injuries could ruin Ray's career but at least he pitched well and won in the major leagues (pride & self satisfaction). We are all keeping our fingers crossed for McGowan's health and career, and I am doing the same for B Ray. All I want is proof of good health in 2010 for Marcum, Litch, Mcgowan and others so that they are not question marks next year.
Gerry - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#214617) #

John Lott has an in-depth story about Brett Cecil today.

Gustavo Chacin has been recalled by the Astros and will pitch out of the bullpen for them.  Gus had a 3.65 ERA in AAA.

China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#214619) #

More fun with statistics:  Jays are leading the majors in HRs; they are 2nd in the AL in slugging percentage (just .003 points behind Boston); and the Jays pitchers are 4th in the AL in WHIP.

China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 10:32 AM EDT (#214621) #

Jays pitchers are also leading the league in SO/9 and are 2nd in the league in SO/BB. 

I think the Jays bullpen is not nearly as statistically bad as it was a week ago, but I can't find the stats.  Can anyone tell me how to find team ERAs broken down by starters and relievers?  BR has a wealth of stats for starters and relievers, but not a simple ERA or WHIP or ERA+ for starters and relievers by team.

ayjackson - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 10:48 AM EDT (#214623) #
We're leading the league in ISOp too at .223.  Next is the Dbacks at .197.
ayjackson - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 10:51 AM EDT (#214624) #
We're second last in BABIP at .267.  We seem to like the poles so far this year.
Gerry - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#214626) #

Brandon Morrow, who starts today, has been a much better pitcher over his last three starts than he was in his first two.  The reason most cited for this is that he lowered his arm angle, working with Bruce Walton, to get more movement on his pitches.  I decided to use some pitch fx data to see if the data backed up the claim.  I am a novice at this so my explanations will be simple.

First, I used data at texas leaguers dot com.

Morrow's fastball does indeed show greater movement over his last three starts.  In his first two starts the vertical movement was 10 inches and the horizontal movement was -2.4 inches.  That is a fairly straight fastball.  Over his last three starts Morrow's fastball still has a 10 inch vertical move but the horizontal movement is up to -6.8.  That is 4.4 inches of extra movement which can be difference between the sweet spot of the bat and the end or higher up on the barrel.  So how that this helped Morrow?  His whiff percentage on the pitch has increased from 4% to 12% and his foul percentage has increased from 19% to 21%.  So in total Morrow is getting 10% more "misses" with the fastball.

But there are a couple of other reasons for Morrow's improved performance that show up in the data.

Pitch selection.  Morrow's fastball percentage has dropped from 63.5% to 52%.  Morrow is throwing 10% fewer fastballs.  Most of that is going to the slider where the % has increased from 9% to 17%.

Curve efficiency: In his first two starts Morrow threw his curve for a strike 48% of the time.  In his last three starts Morrow has thrown his curve for a strike 75% of the time.  As a result hitters are swinging at the curve more often with better results.

So, in summary, Morrow does have better movement on his fastball but he is also succeeding by mixing his pitches more and by improving his ability to throw the curve for a strike.

Mike Green - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#214627) #
Nice, Gerry.

I am getting the (admittedly vague) impression that Bruce Walton may be laid back, but he does have an attention to detail.  He may be a better pitching coach to work with Cito Gaston than the intense Arnsberg.  The pitching coach/manager relationship is something like a marriage, and if it isn't working, a no-fault divorce is usually the best way of dealing with it. 

uglyone - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 11:25 AM EDT (#214628) #

Can anyone tell me how to find team ERAs broken down by starters and relievers?

Most of the major sports websites like ESPN and have them.

Here's the AL Ranks for the Jays' Starters:

  • 171.0ip (1st)
  • 18qs (1st)
  • 3.97era (5th)
  • .668oops (4th)
  • 1.21whip (3rd)
  • 7.8k/9 (1st)
  • 2.4k/bb (4th)
  • 3.8p/pa (3rd)

Of course, if you remove Tallet's numbers from there, the Jays vault into the 1st or 2nd spot in every one of those categories.

The Bullpen's not as pretty.....but much improved over a week ago....

  • 75.1ip (9th)
  • 10svs (1st)
  • 77.0sv% (3rd)
  • 4.66era (12th)
  • .725oops (8th)
  • 1.42whip (9th)
  • 7.8k/9 (4th)
  • 2.6k/bb (1st)
  • 3.9p/pa (6th)


Gerry - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 12:16 PM EDT (#214632) #

Jerry Crasnick has a great read today.  He talks with Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven and Goose Gossage about the unwritten rules of baseball.

I think Gossage has the best stories:

"So he's all up in arms about this ball going foul, and he's causing this big scene while I'm out there waiting to throw the next pitch to [catcher] Jody Davis. When he finally steps back in the box, I plug him with the first pitch.  "Gant looks out at me and says, 'What did you hit me for, man?' And I said, 'If you ever do that again, I'll hit you in the head.' He never understood, but a year later Jody Davis went over and played for Atlanta. He told Gant, 'You must be the dumbest SOB in the league. Everybody in the stadium knew you were going to get drilled, except you.'''


They wanted to get the bullpen going, and [manager] Larry Bowa yelled to John Kruk to come out and talk to me to buy some time.  "There's dust flying, I'm kicking the ground and I'm mad as hell, and I sense somebody standing by me. It's Kruk, standing on the grass. I looked at Kruk and I said, 'This better be good, [expletive].' Kruk was just a rookie then, and he was petrified. He turned around and ran back to first base. He never said a word.''

China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#214635) #
Morrow already has 5 strikeouts in the first 2 innings today.  He struck out the side in the 2nd inning.  According to Gameday, he has already flung several pitches of 98 and 99 mph, and one of 100 mph!   Who needs Chapman??
China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#214636) #
On the other hand, Morrow's arm is going to fall off if he can't reduce his pitch count and improve his control.  He needed 39 pitches for the first 2 innings.
Gerry - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 02:08 PM EDT (#214640) #

Morrow appeared to head back to his old form today.  It looked like his arm was strong and he went with the fastball.

Morrow threw 100 pitches, 72 fastballs, 27 sliders and one curveball.  Today he was a fastball, slider pitcher.  I am not sure why.

Hodgie - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 02:15 PM EDT (#214642) #

"Morrow threw 100 pitches, 72 fastballs, 27 sliders and one curveball.  Today he was a fastball, slider pitcher.  I am not sure why."


Hodgie - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 02:21 PM EDT (#214643) #
It is a shame that the Jays don't have someone on the bench like McCoy that could have pinch run for Molina there in a pretty big situation. Wait, what is that you say.....
China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#214644) #
It's probably legitimate to criticize Gaston for failing to pinch-run McCoy for Molina in the 7th inning (although I suppose it's conceivable that Buck was unavailable to replace Molina, or some other unknown factor could be involved).   On the other hand, it would be equally legitimate to criticize Aaron Hill for failing to get the runner home from 3B with less than 2 outs in the 7th.   Somehow I suspect it's Gaston, rather than Hill, who will be made the scapegoat if the Jays lose.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 02:59 PM EDT (#214645) #
I blame Alex Gonzalez for lining out with a runner on third and less than two out. :)

In a game like this one, there are many things that players and the manager could do to help improve a team's chances.  The hex on Valbuena obviously worked...Wait..."in play, runs".

Mike Green - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:00 PM EDT (#214646) #
Back from the dead.
Alex Obal - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:12 PM EDT (#214649) #
That's the thing about scapegoats. There can only be one. Otherwise you lose as a team and the whole concept loses all meaning. Glad Luis Valbuena cleared that little mess up for us. Or was it Chris Perez?

Thanks for the numbers, Gerry.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:13 PM EDT (#214650) #
Wow.  Lots to talk about.  Sticking with Frasor in the ninth to face Sizemore and Choo, for one.

Sometimes you win one-run games and sometimes not, for all kinds of reasons.  The Indians sure missed Asdrubal Cabrera there.

Hodgie - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:14 PM EDT (#214652) #

I also blame the ball that Snider hit to the track for not going out. I actually had more of a problem with Overbay's approach in his at-bat in the 6th after consecutive 5 pitch walks (and his consecutive GIDPs) than I did with anything that happened later. I just thought leaving in Molina at that point was curious. Of course, it only made it worse that McCoy entered the game 1 inning later to stand around and Buck entering another inning after that.....

Oh, and the small slump aside my man crush on Mr. Adam Lind continues.

Mike Green - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:16 PM EDT (#214653) #
One of the many things that I like about Shaun Marcum is his attitude towards the W.  He says, and I believe him, that he does not care whether he gets the W, but rather whether the team wins the game. 
Hodgie - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#214654) #

"Jason Frasor pitching......Peralta grounds out softly, third baseman Mike McCoy to first baseman Jose Bautista. Three out."

Just like they drew it up before the game.

China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#214655) #

That was a huge confidence-boost for Jason Frasor.   High leverage, high pressure -- and he came through with flying colors (despite the little blip of that two-out double by Choo).

If I was going to quibble with Gaston, the failure to pinch-run McCoy for Molina would be one quibble, but I also would have left Shawn Camp in the game for longer than two pitches.   Rommie Lewis looks like a decent pitcher, but I still like Camp a lot better.

Alex Obal - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#214656) #
Letting Frasor face Choo with a runner on base would have been borderline suicidal, though outside of Gregg and Downs, who you gonna call? As it was, both lefties hit with the bases empty. I do like the commitment to keeping all the relievers fresh late in the year.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:34 PM EDT (#214660) #
The interesting thing to me is that Gaston did not bring on Frasor to face Kearns with two outs and nobody on in the eighth and Lewis having gone over an inning, but then stuck with Frasor in the ninth.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that approach.  I guess that Gaston liked what he saw from Frasor in the eighth and decided to stick with him, for confidence/long-term bullpen usage reasons. 

I believe that Frasor is every bit as good as Gregg, notwithstanding their performances at the start of this year.  If Frasor ends up doing high leverage work in the 7th and 8th but without the closer entrance music, that might work out just fine.

92-93 - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#214661) #

Somehow I suspect it's Gaston, rather than Hill, who will be made the scapegoat if the Jays lose.

Somehow I suspect that's because Hill failed WHILE doing his job, one which the best players fail at 60% of the time, while Cito failed AT doing his job, which is to put the team in the best position to win. Allowing Molina to run for himself when you fully intend on lifting him for a PH in the 9th is sheer lunacy.

China fan - Wednesday, May 05 2010 @ 03:44 PM EDT (#214662) #

With less than two outs, I suspect that the best hitters can find ways to cash in a runner from 3B a lot more than 40 per cent of the time.  There are multiple ways to do it, without even needing a hit.  In fact, in those situations, it's kind of the hitter's job to get the runner home.   Nobody's perfect, of course, and I'm not expecting perfection from any hitter, but I'm just pointing out that Hill didn't do his job in that situation.

TDIB 04 May 2010: Don't You Forbrett About Me | 42 comments | Create New Account
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