Mid Way through Spring

Saturday, March 13 2021 @ 11:05 AM EST

Contributed by: John Northey

So about half way (2 weeks done, 2 weeks and 2 games to go) where are the Jays at? Are the questions getting answered?

Jays just over 500 as I type this (today's game about to start so they'll either be just at 500 or 2 games over after today).  From studies I've seen in the past spring records only matter if they are extreme and this one hovering around 500 is not so don't read too much into a 500 vs 600 vs 400 record.

What are the battles?

Starting Pitching: The #1 battle of the spring - Pearson down with a groin injury (suddenly thinking of the song from Cheers) after 1 inning so he'll be late starting the season.  It looks like Stripling will get a shot at the rotation after all (2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K) with Zeuch also trying for it (4 IP 4 H 1 R 1 BB 0 K).  Roark looks good so far (5 IP 2 H 0 R 0 BB 4 SO) - fingers crossed, Ryu was himself in 2 IP 1 H 1 R 1 BB 2 SO.  Ray was solid (4 1/3 IP 2 H 2 R 2 BB 8 SO), and Matz was excellent (5 IP 2 H 0 R 0 BB 6 SO).  So the likely 5 to start 2021 (Ryu/Matz/Ray/Stripling/Roark) are a combined 18 1/3 IP 10 H 3 R 3 BB 22 K 1.47 ERA.  Nice.  Very promising even with Pearson down for now.  Woods Richardson has the remaining start and at just 20 years old had 2 IP 0 H 1 BB 1 SO.  Nice start for the kid.

Bullpen: most instructive here is who is getting the innings - Kay has 7 IP to lead by a mile (4 R 3 H 3 BB 8 SO) but hasn't run with it.  3 IP goes to Borucki, Liriano, Mayza, Castro, Chatwood, Cole, Phelps, and Romano.  So clearly the Jays are looking closely at these guys.  Most are locks but Castro is a NRI who has just 1 ML game to his name (waiver wire claim).  Others with 2 IP+ are Tice, Manoah, Murray, Zulueta, Snead, and Allgeyer.  Most are NRI's the Jays are probably trying to figure out if they can help in 2021 or not.  Dolis has just 1 2/3 IP so far, and Yates just 1 IP but given both have been closers odds are they have their own programs they follow and will be ready for day 1.  It is going to be very crowded in that pen on opening day - I see 9 guys right now.

3B: Biggio looks to be it, but Guerrero Jr. has been given a few innings there.  The story is Biggio is the everyday guy and Vlad will get a few innings (I suspect mostly in blowouts).

DH/OF/1B: The battle for Grichuk is to show he should be everyday somehow in a crowded situation.    Just 2 for 10 with a HR.  Tellez knows he needs to do well (313/389/500 so far) or could be benched for Grichuk.  The 5th OF guys are having a heck of a battle with Palacios, Josh forcing the issue (357/400/857), but Davis not giving an inch (455/571/545), and Wall also making the Jays notice him (364/417/727).  Warmoth trying not to be 100% forgotten too (4 for 7 with a HR and a 2B).  From it seeming like there are no backup options to tons for the OF it seems.

Infield Backup: Backup infield has a quiet battle between Panik (4 for 12), Espinal, Santiago (2 for 9 with a double and a walk), and Urena (mostly in the OF so far, 0 for 4 with 3 walks) - I expect these 3 to get a lot more playing time as the spring reaches an end although I suspect Panik has the spot locked up.

No one jumps out at me as having a 'wow' spring beyond the guys fighting for 5th OFer.  No one hitting home runs like mad, no one with 10 K's, just the one injury with an obvious replacement lined up.  A very quiet, nice spring in my opinion.  What has everyone else noticed?  Anything jump out so far?  Anyone who you are excited about after seeing in a game or two?  Sucks the games aren't on TV much and no radio, but the Jays are showing the non-TV games on Facebook with the 2 fixed camera system which I appreciate (beats nothing).