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Sometimes I get
That's when you
see sparks
They ask me where the hell
I'm going
At a thousand feet per second

The tourist 2021 Blue Jays have put Dunedin behind them for perhaps the friendlier confines of Sahlen Field in Buffalo. Despite these premature rumours of my demise (self-promoted, sadly) I have indeed been following the team over the last couple weeks and here again are some varied thoughts on an exciting group that seem excellent at winning 2 of 3 out of every 2 of 3 series.

Top of the Third

Here's Looking At You, Kid -- So... all it took was losing 30-40ish pounds for Vlad Jr. to become the best hitter in baseball, eh. Maybe if I lost that much weight I could get my fastball back... back to 60! (drumroll please!)

Seriously though, the last time the Blue Jays employed a hitter this constantly demanding of your attention was probably Jose Bautista. I mean early Joey Bats when we still had those awful black and silver jerseys and foolish pitchers still challenged him with fastballs down the middle. 2015 Donaldson was a lot like that also. Here in 2021 though, I think I'm convinced. Vlad Jr. has arrived. My theory is that ditching the excess weight has clearly unlocked some untapped physical quickness (which has suddenly also made him a rather good first baseman) and he's just simply so strong... his swing so lightning fast and powerful that he can simply muscle baseballs out anywhere he wants to put them. Oh yeah, he's only 22 folks.

To dig deeper, I do think his approach has vastly improved also. He isn't striking out less (14% compared to 16% career) which frankly hasn't ever been a problem for him. He's just hitting the ball harder, in the air more and thankfully less on the ground... but now it seems like a shock when he chases a pitch and misses it. When Vlad Jr. came up he was clearly capable of fighting the league to a draw, but certain pitchers quickly picked up how much this 20 year old fella thought he could hit anything... and so those wily tossers would locate tough pitches accordingly. 20 year old Vlad could still hit those, because he can hit everything... it's just that he'd roll them over to the third baseman more often than not. Now he's consciously decided (you can see his mannerisms in the batters box reminding himself to lay off) to be more selective, to swing at the pitches he's learned he can truly crush. It's wondrous and delightful to behold. He's here, everybody.

Handsome Randy -- I was tempted to mention him last time I wrote one of these, but talked myself into that classic "Ah... it's just one of his hot streaks... he'll bat like .220 for like two months and the gravitational pull of the universe will align itself as it always does".

I still am reluctant to believe he's really this guy, but I do think he's made a significant improvement. Significant enough that his contract sure doesn't look like a hot potato anymore. Defensively, he's an eye test over metrics exhibit: I think he's been totally fine in centerfield this season, a position coming into this year he wasn't expected to play everyday don't forget. I mean, it's possible he looks good compared with Gurriel The Ripper out in left beside him (though geez, he has some arm doesn't he?), but I seriously think considering the circumstances this is by far the most you could've ever hoped for from Grichuk. He's very average out in centerfield... okay range, okay arm... but consistently catches the balls he should catch, makes the right throw... there's serious value in that when you're a better than league average hitter.

Speaking of that... is he? Grichuk is still allergic to walks, he'll still chase pitches he has no business even thinking he can hit... but I do think he has adapted in a subtle way. Buck Martinez will ramble on (as Buck will) about how he's hitting to the opposite field nowadays, and I do find his weak oppo singles quite well timed... but this season he's hitting more balls to dead center than anything. No, his improvement is simply making contact more frequently. He hits the ball hard regardless, it's just that now he's whiffing less. His strikeout rate is at 27 percent for his career, but 2020 and this season he's down to 21 percent. At this point I think it's a large enough sample to conclude he's figured something out.

Mount Manoah -- I simply have to mention the big rookie fella (he's older than Bo Bichette by the way). His debut was one of the most delightful games I've watched in a long while, truly a balm for this young scraped soul. Objectively, I think he reminds me of the last Blue Jays pitcher to wear that #6: good fastball movement, knows how to locate, needs to rely on changing speeds, not afraid of anybody... breaking ball needs to be better. I'm not Andrew Stoeten and am not convinced he's the savior of the team (I suspect Stoets says this in jest) but I do think there's a real chance he can help. There will be some bumps along the way, like his start against Miami, but hey lets see how he adjusts.

Speaking of debuts... a have a couple of yarns to spin. I remember Ricky Romero's ML debut vividly: I was sitting along the first baseline and he was facing Rick Porcello (also making his major league debut!). The Jays won 4-2 I think? I'd look it up but I'm hoping Magpie will beat me to the punch, heh. It was April 2009 if that helps! And I'm certain Romero went six innings.

The more memorable one though for me was seeing Jesse Litsch's debut, mostly just because I barely knew who the heck this guy was. I was way up in the 500s and simply amazed how this doughy looking kid (he's two years older than me? Hilarious) was baffling hitters with junk. Clever junk: slow fastballs that moved all over the place. I remember his second start seeming like a big event (the 2007 Blue Jays were not remarkable) but I sacrificed watching that for a softball game that never materialized.  

Bottom of the Third

Bullpen Nope-en -- I believe I wrote in the first installment of this series how the bullpen had been the MVP of the team at that point of the season. Well... that rocket has returned to Earth.

They still have reliable dudes: Jordan Romano is wonky, and occasionally worrisome when he loses the strikezone for a batter or two every other outing... but he has the makings and dominant flashes of a real late inning weapon. Rafael Dolis is infuriatingly slow in pace, but you can tell nothing ever fazes the guy and there's truly a comfort in that.

Beyond that though... who is the third best available reliever on this team? Trent Thornton? He's more of a multi-inning, "we're winning or losing by 5" guy. Joel Payamps? A pleasant surprise, but I'm not calling on him in a one run game. Anthony Castro? I like the frisbee slider... but he has a dozen major league innings to his name. The injuries have brutalized this group: losing David Phelps for the year is a big blow, losing Borucki has pushed Tim Mayza into a more prominent role (which he struggled with at first, he's been better lately) and Tyler Chatwood is healthy but now has suddenly completely forgotten where the strikezone is? He's done this before.  

I suspect, if the 2021 Blue Jays are to contend for the playoffs, a significant bullpen addition will be required. I also suspect that they have another one down in AAA, not lighting the world on fire despite his stuff being beyond electric. I will make this case: bring up Pearson in late June/early July and give him the Trent Thornton role. Two innings here and there, let him get comfortable facing big league hitters and learn what it takes, what he has, to get them out. The upside is enormous... as long as it doesn't make him get blisters for three depressing seasons afterwards.

You Can Call Me Ray, Or You Can Call Me Jay -- This is just me griping how much I hate the Tampa Bay Rays. Move to Montreal already and stop trying to make me hate baseball.

Take The Bench -- If the Blue Jays are to contend in 2021, their second biggest need (beyond getting Max Scherzer) I think is some thunder from their part-time players. I like Santiago Espinal's glove at third base, he's really quite good over there... but yeahhhh he can't hit. Reese McGuire is a terrific "catch and throw" backstop, and he did kick start a rally recently... but he's basically wishing for Jeff Mathis' career. Joe Panik! Um.... when Joe Panik is consistently your best pinch hitting option... yeah you need some better choices.

But who? Whenever George Springer reappears will certainly shove someone to the pine (or send Rowdy Tellez to the minors), but at this point maybe that versatile bench piece is Cavan Biggio. Make a trade for a real (sorry Cavan) third baseman and now you have that Swiss Army Knife type player (sorry Joe Panik, you're an excellent second baseman but at third you're pretty stretched) in Biggio. If Marwin Gonzalez was five years younger (and still good)... there's a fit. Adam Frazier from the Pirates? Make it so.

Who knows though! This team is currently good enough to believe in, flawed enough to imagine it collapsing tomorrow, and enjoyable enough in the meanwhile to take a step back, sip a beverage and hopefully wonder what happens next. Baseball: there's just nothing like it. And it is good to be back, hope you all enjoyed my mad look at our favourite home 9. Have at it.

Off Day Blues Vol. 3 | 48 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
bpoz - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 08:51 AM EDT (#399416) #
Thanks. Very nice read.
Chuck - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 08:51 AM EDT (#399417) #
I often hear that Guerrero is only 22, so he's still going to get better. The presumption, of course, is that the standard aging curve has players peak around 27.

He’s on a 10 WAR pace this season with an OPS over 1000. Do players who perform like this at a very young age actually improve? What do their aging curves look like?

I though I’d look at some young players who made a big splash at a young age to see what their careers had in store for them.

Mike Trout announced himself to the league at age 20 with 10 WAR. His offense did follow a traditional growth pattern to age 27 (and he seems to be at that level still), but declining defense and time lost to injuries have precluded a succession of 10 WAR seasons, though when healthy, he stills performs at that level.

Alex Rodriguez also made his splash at age 20, with a 1000 OPS and 9 WAR and more or less held steady until age 31, with a few dips en route. There was no obvious growth from his first big season. I leave it to others to debate the role PEDs played in his career.

Ken Griffey performed very well from age 20-22, but at age 23 he broke through, recording his first of four 1000 OPS seasons. The 9 WAR he posted would be matched just twice in his career, actually being exceeded during his peak at ages 26-27. His bat held steady from age 23 to 29, but his defense declined and then injuries were the story throughout his 30s.

Ted Williams established himself as Ted Williams in his rookie season at age 20. He reached his peak at age 22 and stayed there until age 28, posting one 10 WAR season after another (missing out on three likely such seasons due to military service). His decline would start at age 31. Age 38 saw his Ponce de Leon season, finding ~10 WAR one more time. So he never really improved from who he was at age 22, but he managed to stay at that level for a long time.

So what does this very brief and certainly unscientific study mean for Guerrero? Will he actually improve from age 22 (assuming he retains his 10 WAR pace)? Boy, that does seem like a very greedy thing to ask for. Trout and Griffey improved as hitters, but gave away points as their defense in CF declined. But they weren’t sporting a 200 OPS+ like Guerrero is, so had room to grow offensively. If Guerrero can model Ted Williams (yeah, just that) and sustain his current level into his late 20s, that would be a monumental achievement in and of itself. He’d go down as one of the all-time greats.

So perhaps the “Guerrero’s only going to get better” talk should be given a rest. Age 22 may in fact be his peak, and a more reasonable thing to hope for is that he can live in this stratosphere for the foreseeable future.

Paul D - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#399419) #
Musing on WAR... a player could have 17 straight 10 WAR season... and still trail the Babe in career WAR.
uglyone - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#399421) #
Chuck is it even possible for him to improve?

He's having a season for the ages.

Anyways, there's plenty of room for fake improvement at least - there's very little luck anywhere in his numbers right now. You inject a dose of babip luck in there and whoa.
Mike Green - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#399423) #
The gold standard for first basemen is Lou Gehrig, who did post a 12 WAR season at age 24.  It's possible for Guerrero Jr. to do that, but realistically he'd have to get better on defence. 

The projections have him as producing another 3 WAR this year.  I think that he'll do considerably better than that, as I am less worried about his durability than at any time in his major league career due to his fitness level and position.
92-93 - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 11:55 AM EDT (#399425) #
Adam Frazier isn't really a fit for the Jays, he's just an upgrade on Panik. This team needs a 3B badly, not another 2B just because he bats left. Kyle Seager is a good target.
John Northey - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#399426) #
For 3B a name to consider is Eduardo Escobar - plays for Arizona (terrible team) with a 103 OPS+, 97 lifetime, in his age 32 season - a free agent at seasons end. Had a terrible 2020 (61 OPS+). Also has played at 2B and SS this year so fits in well with the Jays desire for flexiblity. Decent power (14 HR so far) but doesn't walk 244/291/466 this year. His dWAR has been positive for 4 years in a row. His UZR/150 is -3.2 this year, but +0.6 lifetime (2.4 at SS, 0.6 at 2B lifetime). For comparison Panik is at -3.4 this year at 3B, -7.9 lifetime, Espinal 8.1 this year/lifetime at 3B. Biggio a nightmare -11.7 this year -12.2 lifetime at 3B. Escobar makes under $8 mil this year so it would just be a matter of what Arizona wants for him. Not a 'wow' guy but would be a decent upgrade over the mess we've seen at 3B this year at a low cost most likely.

Looking around the league at teams in the basement (over 5 games out, last or 2nd last) I don't see any other good targets (either playing very poorly, or too far from free agency to be traded at a reasonable price). Of course, a SS or 2B could work too. And maybe a contender would do a trade if they have a hotshot ready to take over from a vet. Always possibilities if you are flexible/creative. FYI: Kim (who the Jays could've had last winter) is hitting just 203/256/329 so far in 156 PA. But is 10.1 UZR/150 at 3B so he'd have been nice on defense there at least - but his bat is pathetic so far.
John Northey - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 12:26 PM EDT (#399427) #
Kyle Seager I saw as a target awhile ago but Seattle is now within 5 of the division lead out west so they might be dreaming of winning this year. We'd have to match up ML ready players to do a deal there. Evan White was their regular 1B but is now on the IL - "hitting" 202/237/439 after a 67 OPS+ year last year. Compared to him Tellez would look like Babe Ruth. But they have played Ty France there instead (105 OPS+ this year, 134 in 2020) who can also play 2B/3B. So there might be a possibility there but we'd have to pony up a lot more than Tellez I figure. LF has been weak for them too (Sam Haggerty on the IL but just a 56 OPS+) so who knows? Gurriel and Tellez for Seager (team option for $15 mil for 2022)?
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 12:45 PM EDT (#399428) #
I remember Ricky Romero's ML debut vividly...he was facing Rick Porcello (also making his major league debut!)

I was there too.  It was a weekday matinee, the only game on the docket.  And it was the morning after Angel Nick Adenhart was tragically killed by a drunk driver.

bpoz - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 12:57 PM EDT (#399432) #
For various reasons, I will say that there are significant differences between the 1992 and 2021 Jays teams. The big difference to me is that the 1992 team was close to getting old. Not there yet (old) because they won 2 WS in a row. So getting old means go after D Cone I suppose. The 2021 team is not getting old (maturing?) So going after Scherzer is not the same.

When the trade deadline is here I would need to analyze and evaluate our position in the standings this year as compared to the 1992 team in their time.

If there is not much change 6 weeks from now the strong teams would be TB, CWS, Boston, SF,SD and LAD. They should go after a big player like Scherzer or Bumgarner if available. Bumgarner has 2 more years on his contract after this year and Arizona may want to rebuild. Bumgarner has also been injured so the cost may be light. Of the above 6 teams 5 are in the strongest divisions. Only CWS is in a weak division, so they may not believe that they are equal to TB/Boston.
uglyone - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#399434) #
Tbh I think people's expectations were too high this year for this team - the pitching staff was far too full of question marks for this to ever be an easy contending season imo.

The chance is still there, but all in all last offseason was still half-measures, and not an all-in attempt to contend. Whether it's wise to go with half measures when your prime big money guys are 31 and 36...well, that's a different question.

Me I'm actually enjoying this year - Vladdy is making it special and making our future even more exciting, and keeping our heads above water with no Springer at all, even after our pitching came back down to earth, is pretty impressive imo.

If Springer comes back soon then even with a shaky staff we can still get in, though it won't be easy.
bpoz - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 01:48 PM EDT (#399436) #
In the playoffs you need 4 solid SPs maybe 3 solid. 1 Elite for sure (or pitching like an elite because he is hot/in a groove).

Ryu & Ray should qualify as solid I hope if not bad performance/injuries. For elite there is an example in every years playoffs.

Matz & Manoah have to prove that they are solid. Pearson too needs to prove he is solid.

The elite SPs for the last few playoffs probably are going 7+ innings in each start. Hopefully Borucki, Romano, Merryweather and anyone else can take the ball in the 8th and preserve the win.

Vlad may destroy. 9 good hitters in the lineup should/could wear down the other team.

Michael - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#399438) #
Re: Vlad

On the one hand, he's so good this year so far you'd expect that it is more likely he is overachieving his current "true talent" than hitting or underachieving just because it is so rare for anyone to be performing at this good a level / have a true talent this good.

On the other hand, he is young, so the plexiglass fallback/regression to the mean could well be offset by him playing at a higher true talent level next year (I.e., imagine he finishes the year at a 1.100 OPS but imagine that his true talent level currently is "only" 1.000 OPS. Maybe next year he has a 1.050 OPS but that might be hitting his true talent level because maybe as he ages he goes from true talent 1.000 OPS to true talent 1.050 OPS so the regression to true talent is less).

In addition, while Vlad made impressive offseason changes to his weight/fitness last offseason which (very likely) contributed to him reaching this new level of play, I don't think he's necessarily all the way done with that transformation. He lost ~45 pounds in the offseason, but just by eyeball it looked like he probably had another ~20 pounds he could have lost to be even fitter/more athletic build. I'm not sure if he will have the same type of offseason approach as last offseason (although I imagine these good results this year may help motivate that), but I think it is possible there is an even more athletic Vlad possible next year than this year. I don't know if that would necessarily translate to an even better performing Vlad next year than this year (because it is hard to imagine anything better on the offensive side, and even the baserunning and defense has been pretty good this year to date), but it is at least plausible and again it is possible it just improves the true talent level to cut against regression to the mean.

Either way, even if this year is the best Vlad ever is and he has the next 8 years or whatever just slightly below this level, that is still a very impressive and valuable MVP candidate player!
Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#399439) #
The Jays won 4-2 I think? I'd look it up but I'm hoping Magpie will beat me to the punch, heh.

I'm thinking - well, this is what I get for actually advertising the fact that I have an Excel file with every start ever made by a Jays pitcher. (The Jays won 6-2, by the way.)
Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 02:36 PM EDT (#399441) #
[Grichuk's] strikeout rate is at 27 percent for his career, but 2020 and this season he's down to 21 percent.

What fascinates me about this is it's exactly what Grichuk said he was going to try to do, mid-way through 2019. And I know I thought, yeah right. I'd just listened to Kevin Pillar every year talk about the adjustments to his approach that he was going to try to make, none of which ever lasted more than six weeks. But Grichuk seems to have actually achieved something (and it did start in the second half of 2019, that's when he began to seriously reduce his strikeouts.)

I think we all figured he was going to be an overpaid fourth outfielder this year. Right now, it looks like when Springer gets back in the lineup (the deity who watches over soft tissue compalints willing), Grichuk will be in RF every day and Hernandez and Gurriel will share LF and DH for the most part.

See ya, Rowdy.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 02:49 PM EDT (#399442) #
(The Jays won 6-2, by the way.)

It was also the first MLB game to feature a matchup with two pitchers both drafted in the first round and both making a debut.

Porcello was among the very top players in the 2007 draft. However, he fell to the Tigers at 27th overall due to his over-slot demands. (Scott Boras was his agent.)

scottt - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 02:58 PM EDT (#399443) #
I don't know how you can call him Randy when he walks up to "You can call me Al".
uglyone - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#399444) #
Via Fangraphs' combined depth chart rest-of-season hitting projections:

CF Springer 135wrc+, 4.6war650
SS Bichette 120wrc+, 4.7war650
1B Guerrero 149wrc+, 4.9war650
2B Semien 121wrc+, 4.6war650
LF Hernandez 117wrc+, 2.6war650
DH Kirk 115wrc+, 3.5war650
RF Grichuk 112wrc+, 2.4war650
3B Biggio 105wrc+, 2.8war650
C Jansen 96wrc+, 3.5war650

UT Gurriel 106wrc+, 2.1war650
OF Davis 81wrc+, 1.0war650
IF Panik 90wrc+, 1.2war650
C McGuire 76wrc+, 2.0war650

The big question is whether Jansen and Biggio can jump back up that level. If Jansen doesn't, easy fix to move Kirk to C and put Gurriel in at LF/DH. If Biggio doesn't, there's no easy fix....unless Gurriel can play 3B.
Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#399445) #
Ryu & Ray should qualify as solid...

My first thought was, gosh, Ryu always seemed pretty elite to me. But I crunched some numbers to be sure. Here are 2020-21 numbers for the top starter from each of the eight teams vying for the five AL post-season berths. (There are still five of them, right?) 100 IP minimum:
Bieber	CLE	2.36	24	156.1	14	4	111	44	41	16	50	239	2.48	1.030	189
Lynn	CWS	2.46	23	142.2	13	4	101	46	39	18	42	152	3.71	1.002	178
Cole	NYY	2.54	24	148.2	13	6	108	47	42	20	28	198	2.88	0.915	165
Ryu	TOR	2.95	23	131	10	5	120	47	43	14	28	131	3.22	1.130	146
Bassitt	OAK	2.96	23	137	10	4	116	47	45	12	34	135	3.27	1.095	135
Eovaldi	BOS	3.76	21	115	11	4	116	49	48	10	21	117	3.01	1.191	120
Glasnow	TBR	3.28	23	134.1	 9	3	 89	49	49	21	47	197	3.31	1.012	119
Greinke	HOU	3.67	25	149.2	 9	5	141	61	61	16	25	127	3.40	1.109	117

Can someone explain Lance Lynn to me?
GabrielSyme - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#399446) #
These are vague and ill-informed musings about Vlad's offensive ceiling, but I'm not sure he's where he could be.

* With his bat-to-ball skills, I think there's room for him to make even more contact. His contact rate was higher both in 2019 and in 2020. I think he may be more consistently swinging harder than in the past, but the potential for still more contact is there.

* He still seems to get a little over-eager in some situations, expanding the zone.

* I expect with his power, average and batting eye, that pitchers will throw him fewer strikes and his BB% will increase even higher.

* I'm not sure that we're seeing as much consistent pull-side power as he's capable of. Certainly it's there, but he doesn't seem to elevate the ball as consistently to the pull-side as he has to the opposite field and centre.

Obviously, he's an amazing hitter as he is. But it's not impossible to imagine there's still room for improvement.
bpoz - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#399447) #
Thanks Magpie. Hope the work was not too much.

My memory if correct is that playoff excellence is different to regular season excellence.

J Guzman was elite for 1992/93 sample. Maybe 12 playoff games?

D Price and R Clemens? were regular season elite but not playoff elite with a large sample size.

Halladay playoff elite small sample. Bieber not playoff elite small sample.

I am not cherry picking to make my point. It just seems that way. I can add Orel Hershiser I suppose and many others.

Jack Morris was great for Minnesota in 1991. I don't know his playoff history/record. I think J Guzman may have a better playoff record.

I always had hope in Vlad. Many have disappointed me. It is nice to be rewarded. What does Vlad have to do in the playoffs to shine like Reggie Jackson? Jackson was the playoff best? I mean in modern history!!

The Jays have to continue writing recent playoff history which started in 2020.

ISLAND BOY - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 03:55 PM EDT (#399448) #
On Randall Grichuk- I read an article a while ago about Marcus Semien and he commented how he was training in the spring and would arrive early every day but Grichuk would always be there before him. I never thought Grichuk was lazy but I was a bit surprised to learn he was such a hard worker. ( Or a morning person. Heh.)
uglyone - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#399450) #
Lance Lynn was always a bit of an analytics darling. I remember back in that summer where he and a number of other "middling" pitchers were hunting for 5yr deals he stood both as maybe the best analytically and yet the most affordable too.
John Northey - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 04:57 PM EDT (#399451) #
For playoffs - elite pitching is always a nice to have, but predicting who will be elite is a crapshoot - the Jays in 1992 got the guy with the best rep in the business for playoff pitching in Jack Morris who was 0-3 in his 4 playoff starts as a Jay (the other game the Jays won 7-6 after Morris gave up 5 runs in 3 1/3 IP - or the same number of runs he gave up in his previous 4 playoff starts combined before joining the Jays). Other elite pitchers for the Jays in the playoffs...
  • Dave Stieb: 5 starts, 4.26 ERA 1-3 record.
  • Jimmy Key: 7 games, 5 starts, 3.03 ERA team was 4-3 in those games.
  • Juan Guzmán: 8 starts, team 7-1, 2.44 ERA - all in his first 3 ML seasons. The loss was a 2-0 loss.
  • David Cone: 4 starts, 3.22 ERA team 3-1, twice didn't get through 5 innings
  • Pat Hentgen: 2 starts, 1-1 record, 7 ERA, both in 1993 - was scheduled to start game 7 if not for the Carter home run. We were all scared of it.
  • Tom Candiotti: 2 starts, 8.22 ERA Ugh.
  • Mike Flanagan: 1 start 5 R in 4 1/3 IP, a loss.
  • R.A. Dickey: 2 starts, 7.11 ERA, team 1-1 in his starts.
  • David Price: 4 games, 3 starts, 6.17 ERA, team 1-3.
  • Marcus Stroman: 5 starts, 4.40 ERA team 3-2.
  • Dave Stewart: 4 starts, 4.26 ERA, team 3-1.
That covers guys who could've been argued to be an ace, or a #1 in the rotation imo. 5 guys who won Cy's at some point (Hentgen, Flanagan, Price, Cone, and Dickey), 3 others who won ERA titles (Stieb, Guzman, Key), a guy who won 20+ 4 years in a row before coming here (Stewart), and two who were thought of as really good (Candiotti, Stroman), plus Morris (Mr. 10 inning game 7 shutout). I see a lot of flops though - ERA's over 4 (Stroman, Price, Dickey, Flanagan, Candiotti, Hentgen, Stewart, Stieb, and of course Morris) which isn't good enough for an ace in the playoffs. For comparison Randy Johnson was 3.08 ERA in the playoffs before his final NYY run (3 playoff starts, 10 ER in 13 IP) but by then he was in his 40's.

The 1992/93 teams had tons of pitchers who had been great before (Cone, Morris, Stieb, Stewart, ... you get the idea). These Jays aren't there yet.

Right now these Jays are the 1984 team - a really good team of kids getting gelled together but needing help still. Back then they needed a bullpen (sounds familiar) and had a few problems (Griffin 48 OPS+ at SS while Fernandez was on the bench or in AAA with his much better bat and glove for some reason is a good example, an obsession with platooning no matter what even though Mulliniks at 3B had a 124 OPS+ while his 'partner' Iorg was at 49, Whitt at CA 104 with Buck Martinez 77). That team was close. And young.
scottt - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#399452) #
Things have change a lot since then.
Now a team can go pretty far in the playoffs with just a great bullpen.
Problem here is that the Jays have a lot of guys who lack experience.

uglyone - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#399453) #
Playoffs are always a bit of a crapshoot but you can surely get safer bets for regular season success than we did.
scottt - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 06:08 PM EDT (#399454) #
Hey, here comes the White Sox.
Second best starting ERA in baseball.
9th best reliever ERA--still better than the Blue Jays. Second in walks, second in strikeouts,  16th in HR, 23 in hits.
5th best offense, first in OBP, 4th in batting average but 22nd in HR.

All the hitters are better than average except Eaton.
This could feel like a playoff series.

Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 06:30 PM EDT (#399456) #
Post-season "careers" as a rule all suffer from small sample sizes, unless your name is Whitey Ford. The aces some might regard as disappointing include the man with the only CG in Jays post-season history (Morris), the man with the best single start in Jays post-season history (Stieb), and the MVP of the 1993 ALCS (Stewart.) But the best bodies of work for Jays starters would certainly be Guzman and Marco Estrada (3-3, 2.16 in 6 starts - the Jays were shut out in all three losses.)
dalimon5 - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#399457) #
"Gurriel and Tellez for Seager (team option for $15 mil for 2022)?"

Are you mad??? Seager is over the hill and due $25 million. Controllable for a year and a half. Gurriel and Tellez are controllable longer, cheaper on payroll and one of them is already better than Seager on talent alone.

Jays wouldn't do Tellez alone for Seager with that fat contract.

John Northey - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 06:59 PM EDT (#399458) #
True enough Magpie - my main point is that you can't count on an ace, or even a very good #1, to be that in the playoffs. The playoffs are a crapshoot and you just try to have as many good options as possible to push through it. Yes, I'd rather have a rotation like the Dodgers (Bauer, Kershaw, etc. where Price is a 6th or 7th man) than one like the Jays (Ryu, Ray, Matz, Stripling, Manoah) or the Rays (only Glassnow can go 7, although Yarbrough did get a 9 inning complete game in somehow, nothing else over 6).

In the end, lets hope the Jays get some guys going deep regularly. Matz best is 6 2/3, Ray reached 7 once, Ryu 7 innings 3 times, Stripling (7 IP in relief, otherwise never more than 5).
John Northey - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 07:14 PM EDT (#399459) #
The Trade Analyzer agrees with you dalimon5 - it has Seager as worth $0 in a trade (value and contract even out). It sees Tellez as worth $6.4 mil, and Gurriel $2.9 in excess value. I'd disagree with it on Tellez. On a 1-1 trade it says 'overpay One side of this trade is giving up significantly more than they should. It’s possible it would be accepted if each team’s needs are met, but it’s a low probability' I'm just trying to figure out a reasonable deal using assets that the Jays can give up considering the Mariners are on the edge of contention. When Springer comes back we'll have a crowded OF and someone has to go - be it DH Tellez (sent to minors) or Gurriel or Hernandez or Grichuk. I see trading Tellez as a better use of resources if it can fill the hole at 3B. Gurriel is infuriating a lot of the time, but due to his low contract and youth teams would find him attractive. Seattle's pen is weak outside of IL Graveman right now (a couple of AAAA guys have been having good years so far but I wouldn't trust them to keep it up). Their rotation has a nice guy in Yusei Kikuchi who is making a LOT of money ($17 mil this year, options for the next 4 years at $16.5 that must be exercised at the end of this year or lost). I don't see much I'd trade for outside of Seager. But Seager is good on defense and offense (113 OPS+ lifetime, 103 this year, former gold glove at 3B, 5.6 UZR/150 at 3B this year, 3.3 lifetime). Heck, he even hits left which would make a lot of people very happy around here. I'd give up Tellez for him 1-1 easily. No idea what Seattle wants or how good their GM is.
greenfrog - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 07:39 PM EDT (#399460) #
KG chat today:

Guest: Why is Bo Bichette struggling so far this year? I thought he would be an all star type this year at SS.

Kevin Goldstein: He’s never had good swing decisions, and I think the advance folks in this game have found a way to exploit that weakness. It’s a concern.
Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 07:54 PM EDT (#399462) #
I think it's more likely that Bichette was simply a little bit lucky on his Balls In Play prior to this season, and that this is more like what we should have expected. And a shortstop who hits 25-30 HRs and scores more than 100 runs? I'll take it.
uglyone - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 08:01 PM EDT (#399463) #
Looking at the batted ball and statcsst data and it seems like vladdy used a voodoo curse to transfer his launch angle woes over to Bo.

Bo launch angle by year: 10.4, 12.0........4.1!

This of course means that his groundball rate is way up this year, with the corresponding downtick being pretty much entirely his linedrive rate - his flyball, popup, hr/fb rates all have remained the same.

Interestingly, he's posting the best exit velocity of his career so far.

So that's literally the only difference I can see - launch angle WAY down, groundballs way up, and linedrives way down.

Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 08:04 PM EDT (#399464) #
John got me digging out the Excel file of Jays post-season starts (it's a separate document!) - there's only 63 games and I have surely mentioned many times that the very best Jays post-season start (Game Score 83) came in the Jays very first post-season game (Stieb's 8 innings of three hit shutout against the Royals.)

And then I started wondering - what would be the Yankees best post-season start? The Dodgers? The best - and worst - post season starts, period. It's not like I have a life or anything.

Well, no. I haven't done that work. But I did check the Game Scores of a few. Don Larsen's perfect game was a 94, as was Doc's no-hitter for the Phillies. Bob Gibson's 17 K game was a 93. Sandy Koufax once put up two 88s in four days (Oct 11 & 14, 1965.)

But the best Game Score of all? I'm betting it was recorded on October 9, 1916 when Boston's starter allowed a single run in a 14 inning victory. Game Score was 97, the pitcher was - who else? - Babe Ruth.
Magpie - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 08:14 PM EDT (#399465) #
Lou Gehrig, who did post a 12 WAR season at age 24.

That was 1927 of course, and while Gehrig did have a pretty nice season - .373/.474/.765, OPS+ of 220, stuff like that - I would assume that a lot of that value came from the fact that he and his fat teammate in right field were the only guys in the league who hit home runs. The Babe himself hit more homers than every other team in the league, and Gehrig came close himself (he had 47, the A's hit 56.) He has that same season just five years later and it's not nearly as valuable.
John Northey - Monday, June 07 2021 @ 10:16 PM EDT (#399466) #
Excellent question Magpie.
  • Babe Ruth: 3 starts, 97-78-54 (8 IP 2 R)
  • Bob Gibson: 9 starts, 93-87-82-81-80-80-62-56-55. 8 IP once, 9 7 times, 10 once. Crazy.
  • Sandy Koufax: 7 starts, 1 relief. 88-88-79-79-68-62-50
  • Whitey Ford: 22 starts, 88-81...28-28. 7 scores sub 50, once only lasted 1 inning.
  • Greg Maddux: 30 starts, 5 relief, 83 peak, 16 worst
  • Randy Johnson: 16 starts, 3 relief, 91 peak twice (2001 9 IP 1 BB 11 SO 3 H shutout, 2001 WS same line), 5 sub 50's worst a 23 in 2005 as a Yankee
  • Curt Schilling: 19 starts, 89 peak (80 vs Jays was his 3rd best), worst a 22 as a Red Sox.
  • Christy Mathewson: 11 starts, peak of 86, worst a 45, his only sub 60.
  • Mordecai Brown: 9 starts, peak of 86
Well, those were the big ones I could think of. Morris' 10 inning shutout in 1991 game 7 was an 84 btw. A few in the early part of the 1900's were 80's in extras (low K's).
hypobole - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 12:05 AM EDT (#399467) #
The AAA East Pitcher of the Month for May wasn't Manoah, it was KC's Jackson Kowar.

"Kowar had dominated at Omaha with a minuscule ERA of 0.85 with 41 strikeouts and 10 walks in 31 2/3 innings and a 5-0 record in six starts."

Which got him a promotion today. How did it go?

Ground out, walk, wild pitch, single, walk, wild pitch, single, wild pitch, ground out, single. Hook.

0.2 IP, 4 ER, with more WP's than outs. Welcome to the bigs.

On Bo, Goldstein's chat today.

Why is Bo Bichette struggling so far this year? I thought he would be an all star type this year at SS.

He’s never had good swing decisions, and I think the advance folks in this game have found a way to exploit that weakness. It’s a concern.

hypobole - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 12:17 AM EDT (#399468) #
What greenfrog posted earlier. Read what's been posted before posting is a good idea, hypobole.
hypobole - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 12:49 AM EDT (#399469) #
First bit of good news for the Jays eventual return to the Skydome. From ESPN:

"The NHL has reached an agreement with the Canadian government to allow for cross-border travel beginning with the Stanley Cup semifinals, the league announced Sunday.

NHL teams coming from the United States will be able to play in Canada, but are subject to enhanced health protocols. The team must arrive on a private plane and will be subject to daily COVID-19 testing. Once in Canada, the American-based teams will live in a "modified quarantine bubble" and have no contact with the general public."
Magpie - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 01:41 AM EDT (#399470) #
those were the big ones I could think of.

I think you've scooped up all the greatest WS starts there, with one exception - Jim Lonborg's one-hitter in 1967, which scored 88.
scottt - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 07:36 AM EDT (#399471) #
I'm no expert, but I like that Bichette is a different kind of hitter.
He goes all out, but with 2 strikes, he focuses on protected the strikezone which means he seems less likely to go down on a ball called strike three.
Like everybody else, he's going to have to make some adjustments as he goes.
It really underscores how hard it is to predict the future values of players and why I don't resent the front office for not handing out extensions willy nilly.

Chuck - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 08:11 AM EDT (#399472) #
Gurriel, Bichette and Grichuk rank 6/7/8 worst in MLB in OSwing%, the percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone that they swing at. While this intuitively seems to spell doom, it doesn't guarantee failure. Garcia (Tex) ranks #10, Devers #12 and Castellanos #14. And of course Bichette and Grichuk are also hitting well.

The eye test suggests that a Bichette who is just a wee bit more selective could produce a whole lot more. But he's only 23 and yet to accrue even a full season's worth of at-bats. Plenty of time for progress.

AWeb - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 09:01 AM EDT (#399473) #
Roger Clemens had a 98 game score in the postseason, 9 innings, 1 hit, 15K, 2bb, in 2000. Not the world series, but still...I started looking up the recent Yankees dynasty team, but of course they were in part defined by their closer, so high scores were harder to get. Clemens got his score with the astros.
scottt - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 09:49 AM EDT (#399474) #
Part of that is just that hitting second, you'd like to see more walks from Bichette, whereas Grichuk and Gurriel not walking does not hurt as much as they hit 5th and 7th, or so.
John Northey - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 11:00 AM EDT (#399479) #
Fun trying to think of the best games in playoff history and who the top performers were aka: who became a playoff legend. A shame Halladay only got 5 playoff starts and none here in his prime. Scores of 94 (no hitter)-72 (lost 1-0 to Carpenter who had an 84 that day)-71-55-52. His shortest was 6 innings.

For fun I was looking for long games from the past and hit this doozy from 1920. 26 innings with both pitchers going the distance. Game scores of 153-140. Just 7 K's each. 3 hours 50 minutes. Called due to darkness (1-1 tie). Hard to imagine a game that many innings going for under 4 hours.
John Northey - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 11:11 AM EDT (#399480) #
AWeb - can't believe I didn't check Clemens. Probably due to his rep of doing poorly in 1986. No post season game has had a 100 score from what I read (did a search for 100 scores and found only regular season games). Clemens 2000 game in the ALCS vs Seattle was 9 IP 1 H 2 BB 15 SO. Only 2 line drives all game. That same postseason he had a 87 in the WS. His worst out of his 34 post season starts was a 24 in 1999 vs Boston. In the 1986 post season he had a 3.97 ERA over 5 starts, the team was 2-3 in his starts. That was his 24-4 season where he seemed unbeatable and the Sox lost in 7 in the WS with the infamous ball through Buckers legs.
scottt - Tuesday, June 08 2021 @ 03:09 PM EDT (#399481) #
So it sounds like Toronto has signed on to use a humidor when the Jays play in Rogers Center.
Interestingly, while in Colorado they use it to increase the humidity of the ball, so it carries better but leaves the bats are a reduced velocity, in humid cities--like maybe Boston--it's used to dry the balls so they leave the bat at a higher velocity but die down at the warning tracks.

Meanwhile analysis have shown the ball physics to change from month to month and regular season to postseason.

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