Saturday, June 1, 2013

State of the BooJays: The Jays in May

The Jays had a much better month in May then they did in April, but severe problems still exist.

The Jays started May at 10-17 (seven games under .500) and finished the month of May losing a grueling 17 inning game to finish May at 13-15, two more games under .500. Overall, that leaves the Jays at 23-32.

The Good

There were many bright spots on the team for May:

Hitting (from best to worst):

Adam Lind's May was .346 / .409 / .590 with 4 home runs over 88 plate appearances. He needs to be kept in the lineup against right handed pitchers. This is fantastic for Lind.

Jose Bautista's May was .337 / .446 / .548 with only 5 home runs. He is spraying hits, especially with two strikes and has a different approach to the game which is giving him success.

Edwin Encarnacion had a good month, batting .292 / .364 / .504 with 6 home runs.

Melky Cabrera had a good month, batting .319 / .361 / .460 with 10 doubles. His power is slowly returning but with his bum hamstrings, will the trend continue?

Colby Rasmus is hitting better than expected, batting .263 / .330 / .463 with 5 home runs, but with 28Ks in 95AB, he still has work to do.

Honorable mention to Munenori Kawasaki (for his walk-off win) and his 4.34 pitches / plate appearance, 4th in the AL among players with more than 100 PA.

Relief Pitching

The Blue Jays' overworked bullpen continues to shine with its 3.71 ERA and 1.280 WHIP, solidly in the middle of the pack. But they worked 208 innings in May, the most in the AL.

Brett Cecil is the best surprise with his 1.91 ERA and WHIP of 0.918 and a K rate of 10.5/9. Completely unexpected. His May was very good with a K/BB rate of 5.83, a WHIP of .878 and an opposing OPS of just .476

Steve Delabar with a 2.17 ERA is very very good. His May was better than his April, with a .878 WHIP and 1.98 ERA

Aaron Loup with a 2.40 ERA and 1.10 WHIP is also quite good. His May was also better than April with a .875 WHIP and 1.69 ERA.

Casey Janssen with 11 saves (none blown), a 2.12 ERA and WHIP of .588 is phenomenal despite his sore shoulder.

The Ugly

Starting Pitching

Starting pitching has been truly ugly.

Brandon Morrow with his 6.14 ERA over 4 starts. His last three starts have been particularly bad and likely he will miss a start and may even end up on the disabled list.

A healthy RA Dickey with his 5.82 ERA and 1.500 WHIP. By far, the team's worst disappointment, half of his outings in May have been bad, with 6 or more earned runs. He needs to be better if this team wants to win games. On top of that, to keep pressure off the bullpen, he will always pitch 6 or more innings even if he is getting whomped. His knuckleball is slower. His control is worse.

A not so healthy Mark Buehrle with his 4.89 ERA and 1.293 WHIP. His last two starts have been very good, but he had 3 starts in May with 5 or more earned runs allowed -- not good.

Then, there's Ricky Romero's awful starts and the awful smack to the head of JA Happ.


There are two disappointments with hitting in May.

Brett Lawrie. He hit a disappointing .207 / .271 / .391 in May. Though he hit 3 HR, he needs to be better to justify hitting 5th in the lineup. On top of that, he got thrown out of a game (not justifiably so), then got mad at the 3rd base coach and Adam Lind for not running on a potential sacrifice fly. Then, in the next game, he sprained his ankle and put himself on the 15 day DL, after apologizing to his fans.

JP Arencibia hit .208 / .232 / .375 in May. His strikeout rate is down to about 26% in May, which is okay. But with him hitting in the centre of the lineup, he needs to be better. He hit 4 HR in May and 4 doubles, which is half of his extra base production in May.

Honorable mentions go to Macier and Bonifacio have hit better in May, but still they are under the standards that they were known for last year. Hopefully the bounceback continues for both of them. 

Are things looking up?

On the pitching side, Josh Johnson returns this week to pitch in San Francisco. JA Happ will continue his steps towards rehab and might be back before the all star break. Brandon Morrow may need to go on the DL and will likely miss a couple of starts (June 2 and 9) but with two off days, the rotation can be moved to accomodate. Perhaps Ricky Romero will find his stride.

But none of these are necessarily good things. Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and RA Dickey need to improve for the team overall to do better to and to take pressure off the bullpen. Only their personal improvement will do well for the team.

Chad Jenkins looks to be capable as a starter, and Esmil Rogers also did fine. The addition of Wagner and Perez to the bullpen appear to be good ones, and Loup, Cecil, Janssen and Delabar is great. Look for Dustin McGowan's return to MLB as well. The bullpen looks strong, and with Santos on the sidelines until at least after the all star break and Darren Oliver making a mid-June return, it looks like the bullpen will continue to improve.

On the batting side, things have improved in May massively. Jose Reyes will start his rehab stint shortly and will likely be back before the end of June. Rajai Davis has already started his comeback and will likely be back within a couple of weeks. Brett Lawrie's bat will not be missed, but his glove will be. Look for Brett Lawrie to be back by late June.

Reyes' return will spell the end of Munenori Kawasaki in Toronto. Kawasaki cannot play in another position. Rajai's return will spell the end of Gose's stay in Toronto, unless Cabrera injures his hamstring further. Reyes' return will place pressure on opposing pitchers and I expect continued improvement in hitting overall starting towards the middle of June.

The schedule in June is not looking much better. The Jays have 7 games against the high flying Texas Rangers and faces a series of games at the month towards the Orioles, Rays, and Red Sox. The series against the White Sox and Rockies and the current series are the only "easy" spots in the schedule.

I expect the Jays to go 15-12 in June.

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