This is Liam Hendriks, though I’m not entirely sure he isn’t Kyle Drabek in disguise.
Had a great time, as usual, yesterday at Opera Bob’s, so a big thanks to them for having us, and to the folks behind Sports Bar Heroes for helping us get the word out. We’ll do one again soon, especially if the Jays keep giving us reason to want to get together and watch. And now, I’d better write something…
As unsurprising as it was to hear last night that Liam Hendriks was getting the call to join the Jays’ rotation, at least for now, it was entirely surprising to hear this morning that Esmil Rogers had been D’d FA in order to make it happen.
Hendriks is a “strike thrower,” as Alex Anthopoulos put it last week. He’s young. He’s earned a shot with a fantastic time so far in Buffalo. He’s got big league experience, having been just a shade under replacement level in 28 starts for the Twins between 2011 and ’13. He’s got a good mix of pitches — or at least showed one with the Twins — with a fastball that sits at about 90, and a slider, curve, and change that he’ll use. As an Australian he’s late to the game enough, or at least late enough to facing elite-level competition, that maybe his expected development curve should be elongated compared to his counterparts from this continent.
Sure, he’s not really a ground ball guy, and doesn’t strike out enough batters, is a bit homer-prone, and has posted some strangely low strand rates, which might perhaps suggest troubles out of the stretch, though looking at his splits with men on and the bases empty, they seems to have been just troubles in general. But back on the positive side of the ledger, the most important thing about him for now is that he’s not as likely to tax the Jays’ bullpen as Todd Redmond is, as he won’t be working on a pitch count.
In nearly two weeks since he pitched an excellent 4.2 innings of relief against the Angels on May 10th, Redmond has seen live game action for only just a third of an inning, making it even harder than it would be in the first place to envision him going deep into tonight’s game. Hendriks, though he may get beaten around anyway — ready yourself for this already, please — at least should be able to give them 100 pitches, provided things don’t go as poorly as… y’know… they have for every pitcher facing the A’s of late.
And if things don’t go well? Well… Marcus Stroman goes Sunday for Buffalo. He and Hendriks were close to being lined up, but the Jays’ decision to split up bullpen-savers R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle by inserting Hendriks into today’s spot and pushing Dickey back a day, makes things a little more complicated, should they want to replace Hendriks with the most natural next-in-line starter. But I guess they could just pull Stroman from that start if they find out real quick that they need to get Hendriks the hell out of here, so… we’ll see. Whatever Hendriks does, then, at least it doesn’t really matter. It’s just one game.
… And Rogers DFA
The final, merciful dumping of Rogers was the surprising part of this transaction, though entirely because of the behavioral pattern established by the front office, and not at all because of his performance. Though the peripherals shine up the stat line, and the performance last year and in his 2012 half-season in Cleveland suggests that there is a whole lot more to like about Esmil than the dreadful outings we’ve seen this year, he’d simply been getting hit hard, and often. John Gibbons showed all the confidence he could muster in Rogers this week, bringing him into the eighth inning, with a five run lead, on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, which he promptly allowed to be cut to two. Obviously one performance shouldn’t make or break a guy ever, but Rogers only had a tenuous hold on his roster spot at this stage anyway, and the fact that he’d added to the pile of reasons for his manager to give pause to even bringing him for some garbage time seemed like it might actually, finally, after 17 runs (16 earned) in 20.2 innings of work, bring his time on this roster to a close. Thankfully, the Jays didn’t worry about the political stuff and the optics stuff, making the move they needed to make.
Maybe he’ll clear waivers and work his way back eventually. I wouldn’t complain. There was genuine excitement about him and his sinker last year, don’t forget. Sure, the club fucked up pretty severely by not realizing the potential enough in Yan Gomes to give him regular catching opportunities instead of J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud (which isn’t quite the travesty some would like to paint it as, I don’t think, just because of how obvious it was at the time who their preferred catchers should have been), and by thinking Mike Aviles was expendable because of the presence of Maicer Izturis (and the coming addition of Emilio Bonifacio), and probably by hanging onto him in hope through so much of this season, but… they’ve moved on. Let’s us also. And let’s remember this moment when he pops up elsewhere and regains his form, eh?
Klaw: Jays Should Go All In
Keith Law was on Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight Podcast this week, and he spoke about the Jays, who he thinks ought to be going all-in on getting rotation help right now.
“I think they’ve got a legit shot,” he said, sounding more hopeful than emphatic, “at least for a playoff spot. This is probably an 85 to 90 win team. They need rotation help, that’s the biggest thing. The Dustin McGowan experiment has to be over — I know he’s a great story, but he’s showing no indication he’s going to be able to help them in the rotation — and… I love Marcus Stroman, but I don’t know that he’s going to be able to give them what they need, as a playoff contender. Could he come up and help them a little bit as a starter and continue his development? Yes. They probably need more impact right now, if they’re going to continue this run, because it looks like a pretty good, if slightly sort of unbalanced offensive club, but they’re going to need some rotation help.
“Blue Jays fans are probably listening to this and saying, ‘No, no, no, they need bullpen help, they need bullpen help.’ I’m a firm believer that if you upgrade the rotation, you implicitly upgrade the bullpen. You’re putting less work on them, you’re able to use guys more efficiently out of the bullpen. If they could get another consistent, seven inning starter — I’m not sure who that is right now, but if they could do that — it would take a lot of pressure off of some of those bullpen guys, and you could keep them fresh, and you would get better performances out of them.”
He says that they should go in — that if the Cubs say they want Aaron Sanchez for Jeff Samardzija, then yes, the Jays should do it (though he doesn’t address the Sanchez/Stroman suggestions, though with Stroman being ostensibly part of the big league club now, I don’t think that’s particularly likely anyway). The flip side of that is, he says, is whether the Jays would even have enough to beat other offers that might come in for the Shark. He’s not wrong — it’s not like the Jays are the only club that covets pitching, and while they probably have enough pieces to make up the rest of the package (Norris? Nay?), teams would probably prefer prospects closer to actually reaching the majors. Shit, three of the four players the Cubs received last summer for Matt Garza have already seen time in the big leagues, for example.
It’s not crazy talk, which is amazing, but let’s maybe we see how we feel at the end of the upcoming Oakland series. Or after the following ones with Tampa, Kansas City, in Detroit, and a return home to face the Cardinals. Though, sure, reinforcements for this little run would probably be a nice thing, too. Stroman, though.
FWIW, Prospect Insider really likes what they’ve seen from Samardzija, as he’s managed to get himself into favourable counts more than ever so far this season.
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star tells us that the testing has been done, and says that the Rogers Centre roof looks likely to be open for the first time this season over the weekend. It won’t be tonight, though, according to a tweet from the building’s official account, making tomorrow the likely first outdoor game of 2014. Don’t tell Dickey though, or he’ll freak!
Sticking with the Star, a new Griff Bag should give us something to do Monday morning… or whenever I post my next hijacking.
Lastly, @Carmichael31 sends me a pic of him in his just-arrived Edwin/Parrot shirt — and since it’s a pretty sweet looking shirt, and Edwin is pretty much the fucking best, I might as well mention that they’re selling them again, apparently, over at Teespring.