Andrew Stoeten

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August? More like the Ugh-est, amiright?

So the Jays lost again, and continued not doing themselves any favours. They wasted an excellent start from R.A. Dickey (season ERA: 3.95 now), failing again to get any semblance of offence going. They’re now 7.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and 3.0 games back of the two teams who now hold the second Wild Card spot, the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers. They’re 3-9 since the calendar flipped to this month. Not a lot of folks would bet on this club being three games better than those two over forty games, or 7.5 better than the Orioles in that span — especially at this rate — and I couldn’t blame them for declining to do so, either. But as we’ve discussed ad nauseam around here of late, it certainly can happen, too.

Edwin coming back should help, and the White Sox and Brewers certainly ought to be better for what ails them than the Mariners were.

The longer they keep failing to get back to winning, though…

jpapitching4

Hey! Look! It’s that Aaron Cibia guy!

So… here’s something that happened. Down in Texas, with the Rangers down 10-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays, someone needed to be called on to pitch the ninth for the home team. And someone answered the bell.

As you can see (barely — at least until I get a better screengrab), was J.P. Arencibia.

Pretty sure it’s already been a looooooong year for the Rangers. He did OK, though — throwing knuckleballs! (Better than he can catch them, said a million internet jokesters at once). A clean inning!

Keith Law provides a scouting report:

Also, this tweet might be perfect:

We now do have the video! But first, what in its absence would have been the next best thing: a GIF (via @CorkGaines) of Sean Rodriguez appearing to call ol’ JPA an asshole before meekly flying out. Or… y’know… he might just be saying “let’s go.” Decide for yourself, and see the full MLB.com video after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

iwakuma

Yeah… I don’t know either.

Anibal Sanchez. Max Scherzer. David Price. Felix Hernandez. Chris Young. Hisashi Iwakuma.

The Jays could run through this sextet of pitchers — with three Cy Young awards (plus surely another one coming this season for King Felix) and three more top-three finishes in the balloting between them — and end up 3-3 for their troubles. Completing the task won’t be easy against Iwakuma tonight, but for a club that was coming off a tough home series loss to the division-leading Orioles, which followed three straight duds against the lowly Astros, that’s pretty not too fucking bad, when you think about it. Especially with a series against the White Sox upcoming, in which the Jays manage to avoid facing Chris Sale.

Then again, the Astros seemed like they shouldn’t offer much trouble either.

Regardless, the Jays just have to keep hanging on — getting Lind back helps, and getting Edwin back on Friday should help — with the understanding that all they have to do is be close and the last two weeks will determine everything. They can make our collective breathing over those last two weeks a little easier by doing more than just “hanging on,” but when they end the season going to Baltimore for three, New York for four, hosting these Mariners for four, then finishing with the Orioles at home for three, anything can happen. They just have to stay in position to let it.

Picking it up in through the rest of this month, with the White Sox, Brewers, Rays, and Red Sox upcoming — and no Sale, no Price, no Lester, with three off-days surrounding the series’ and one more before they finish the month at home against the Yankees — sure will help keep it all possible. And doing so is definitely not impossible.

Starting this next stretch out coming off a win tonight isn’t impossible either.

Go Jays.

Scuttlebutt

Through five innings in Buffalo, Edwin Encarnacion is 0-for-3, but he stung one, apparently! That’s all according to a Mike Harrington tweet. (Update: He singled in the eighth, we’re told, and has looked fine all night moving and making scoops at first).

Gregor Chisholm tweets that, instead of skipping Drew Hutchison in the rotation with the upcoming off-day, the Jays have decided to give all their starters a day off and keep the rotation intact. Stroman, Buehrle, Hutchison will go against the White Sox.

Barry Davis gives us reason to say “Fuck the Mariners grounds crew,” I’m pretty sure. If you’re at the game in Seattle tonight and you toss a bunch of garbage on the field, you definitely didn’t hear me suggest it. Because I didn’t suggest it. Tossing garbage on the field, that is. Wouldn’t hear of it.

Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets a link to a report saying that in the voting on who will be the next MLB commissioner, the Jays are supporting Red Sox part-owner Tom Werner. Hmmm…

Mike Harrington also tells us that Colt Hynes, claimed today by the Jays and immediately assigned to Buffalo, will be the franchise record 70th player for the Bisons this year. Seventy!

More Bisons stuff, apparently, as the team’s official account tweets that Kevin Pillar got a hit for the 20th straight game tonight. That’s pretty exciting. Less exciting: over the previous nineteen games he’s walked twice in 81 plate appearances, making his walk rate 2.5%.

Shit, one more, why not? From Harrington, Sean Nolin has thrown six shutout innings tonight. Depthly! (Marc Hulet of FanGraphs adds that he thinks the Jays should give him two or three starts while taking the chance to give Drew Hutchison some rest. I don’t know about that… but I’ve heard crazier things).

I know, I know, he’s the O’s manager, but Buck Showalter still might kinda be awesome.

Awesomeness from VICE Sports that I’ll totally forget about if I wait until the next Daily Duce to link to. It’s on John Olerud and his boringness. (Just go with it).

Read this: Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes about clutch teams, and how they, y’know, don’t exist.

Speaking of: FanGROFs alert, as Drew joins Carson Cistuli on the FanGraphs podcast.

I’m involved in the next edition of Pitch Talks, which will be taking place a week from Thursday, along with a host of great panelists: Stacey May Fowles, Jenn Smith, Erin Valois, Shi Davidi, Sid Seixeiro and Jeremy Taggart. Get your tickets here. And I forgot this last time, but use the promo code DJF for $5 off! Cool-ass poster here.

I also do believe that a week from tonight, Tuesday, with the Jays in Milwaukee, seems like a good time to have a little DJF shindig over at Opera Bob’s. Watch for more info! Though… that’s pretty much the info. Just come drink and eat hot dogs and watch baseball.

Lastly, once again, since Facebook changed its algorithms with respect to sharing, it’s really become a much more powerful social media tool, and so it’s probably in your best interest to just go right ahead and like DJF on Facebook, so that you can get everything that’s posted here injected straight into your feed-veins. Do it.

Next game(s): Friday, 8:10 PM ET @ Chicago (AL)

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
1B Adam Lind (L)
DH Dioner Navarro (S)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
3B Juan Francisco (L)
C Josh Thole (L)

RHP R.A. Dickey

Seattle Mariners

CF Austin Jackson (R)
LF Dustin Ackley (L)
2B Robinson Cano (L)
DH Kendrys Morales (S)
3B Kyle Seager (L)
RF Chris Denorfia (R)
1B Logan Morrison (L)
C Mike Zunino (R)
SS Brad Miller (L)

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

dailyduce3-595

Move over bananas, I’ve got a new source of potassium!

Talk about burying the lede. In small subsection of a Saturday piece for the Toronto Sun, Bob Elliott dropped this nugget: “Rogers Communications might prove us wrong about not giving general manager Alex Anthopoulos any cash to add at the deadline and the Jays could add a $10-million contract next week. Might it be a tad too late?” I’ll believe it when I see it. Sure would be fucking nice, though. So… whaddaya think the Mets want for Jon Niese? Because I bet it’s a metric shitload.

“I haven’t had any communication with them, which has been a little frustrating at times because I feel like I’ve ironed some of the things out that I needed to iron out and I’m just waiting for that opportunity to go back out there and hopefully do what I’m doing here.” Those words come from Sergio Santos, who says he was taken aback by the decision to designate him for assignment last month, according to Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press, via the Globe and Mail. Santos gave up a hit in his first appearance for Buffalo, and hasn’t since. He’s struck out nine in 6.2 innings, but has also walked four. Sounds like he’s close.

More from Whyno, this time in the National Post, as he reports on Edwin Encarnacion’s first rehab game for Buffalo, and how badly the Jays need their slugger back.

The Jays announced this afternoon that they’ve claimed Colt Hynes, a left-handed reliever, from the Dodgers and assigned him to Buffalo. Hynes is 29, with 17 innings of big league experience, all of which came last season for San Diego, and… uh… it did not go well. He had a great year last year in Double- and Triple-A, though. This year he’s pitched to a 4.08 ERA and 4.04 FIP in 42 games in the PCL. Meh.

Great stuff at Sportsnet from Arden Zwelling, who looks at Jose Bautista, who is everything to the Jays — but maybe not enough.

Elsewhere at Sporstnet, Shi Davidi confirms what I wrote about yesterday: that the Jays will indeed play exhibition games in Montreal once again this spring. Sweet!

Back to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, as does his best to empower the whiny subset of the Jays’ fan base, writing that the club missed a golden opportunity last night, in what was “supposed to be the easy one” against Seattle. Yeah, and they were supposed to lose to the Tigers’ Cy-calibre starters, right? Funny how baseball sometimes is baseball.

Elsewhere in the Sun, in a notebook post, Elliott notes that Jose Reyes wasn’t thrilled with the decision to have him sit out Monday’s opener of the series in Seattle. “It was an executive decision,” John Gibbons told reporters. Elsewhere in the piece, Elliott notes that Dan Norris had an excellent debut on Sunday with the Buffalo Bisons, striking out ten in six scoreless.

Baseball Prospectus gives some context to Norris’s performance: “Norris has ridden his fastball/slider combination all the way to the upper levels of the minor leagues this season, with Buffalo representing his third stop along the way. He’s missed bats in droves at every stop and showed no sign of slowing down in his first Triple-A start on Sunday. He’s still got a ways to go to become a complete pitcher, including the development of the changeup he’ll need in the majors, but for now he’s able to get by with two potential plus pitches.” Sounds sorta like a guy who could do alright in a big league bullpen in a pinch, doesn’t it?

Read the rest of this entry »

garbageclownFIXED2

Full disclosure: This post was going to be the beginning of a Daily Duce, but it feels better to do it separately. Hold tight, we’ll be through this nonsense quick and then it’s back to reality. I promise. At least until the next time.

Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that with three-quarters of the season in the books, the Jays are on an 84-win pace, and need to go 26-15 to reach the 89-win mark that would most likely assure them of a playoff spot. A win or two less might be good enough for the second Wild Card, but that’s pretty much the rub. It’s a daunting task. It was always going to be one. But the Jays, despite their inconsistencies and their inability to find an impact player to improve the roster dating all the way back to the off-season, aren’t incapable of pulling it off. Especially with Lind and Encarnacion finally back to health.

No, really. There was lots of talk of “garbage clowns” in the comments section of last night’s post-game post, and… well… in a long, unwieldy comment I tried to add some perspective to the invective, shitting (probably dumbly) on the tao of playoff probabilities and insisting (rightly) that the Jays are no more the team that’s gone 3-8 over their last eleven than they were the team that went 11-3 over their previous fourteen. But it was commenter “Roy Hobbes” who truly got to the nut of what’s been so infuriating about this season’s conversation, beyond the obvious battles with the truly insufferable doomsaying unserious shitstains, explaining that “manic Jays Fans that feel the need to completely reassess every faction of this team after every single loss are exhausting.” Hear, hear.

That said, I get that people hate to be told not to be emotional, especially when it comes to sports. So much of what we get into it for is precisely emotional. I know I’m fighting a losing battle here, maybe even an utterly pointless one. But I like to think that this blog is about more than just the goings-on of a baseball team, but the whole conversation surrounding that team, and when I see it going off the rails, I think it warrants comment. And, evidently, it’s been off the rails a lot this season.

That’s understandable, I suppose, in what has been such a dramatically up-and-down year. But what I don’t get is when people who want so badly to vent insist that us folks trying to keep a level-enough head while following this sport that demands level-headedness simply for the sake of preserving sanity are insisting that everything is fine. That’s the antithesis of what I’m saying. Nothing is fine — not for the Blue Jays, not for the Yankees, not for the Mariners, or the Tigers, the Royals, or even the Orioles. It’s almost never going to be “fine” in the mid-August portion of the MLB schedule. The idea that the only possibilities for the team are either “fine” or “fucked” completely misses the reality that is the murky middle.

Do we want to see the team play better? Do we want them to be gaining games on the teams they’re chasing rather than losing them? Of course. But that can change quickly, as should be blindingly obvious to anyone who has even just watched this season, let alone lifelong fans of the game. It is not the nature of baseball, no matter how often lazy reporters and fans want to circle jerk over narratives about “statement games” and “winners” with the ability to impose their will on the sport, for everything to play out smoothly in one direction. It’s maybe not natural for a team to be quite as volatile as the Jays have been here in 2014 either, but wins and losses come in clusters. And just because one team is at a high ebb and another playing poorly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one is tumbling into irrelevance and the other is staking its claim to greatness. It’s just not that simple.

That doesn’t mean that we need to kid ourselves about the difficulty of the situation that the team playing poorer is in, or that we can’t be upset about the way things might currently be going. It certainly doesn’t mean we can’t be upset at missed opportunities to make the team better, or at being stuck at the situation we’re in with respect to ownership and payroll. But all that frustration shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to having an understanding of what a good situation the club is in, how many great possibilities still exist along with the usual deflating ones, and how a loss or two or three doesn’t alter much at all — or, especially, how it doesn’t reveal the true nature of a club. Not in a sport where all of one team this year has won more than six games for every ten, or with a team that’s about to get two of the best hitters in baseball back for the final six week push.

The season is going to go how it’s going to go. The front office is capable of what it’s capable of. You don’t have to be optimistic — realistically? I’m not terribly so either at this point — but how about you stop groping around for reasons to get off the ride at Every. Single. Possible. Fucking. Opportunity?

I mean… do what you want, I guess, just be aware you might end up being called a garbage clown for it.

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Another one for the loss column. And so reasonable people will be reasonable about it, and garbage clowns will be garbage clowns. Whatever.

lindseattle

Not counting last night, since the All-Star break the Jays have lost the first game of a series five times, and have ended up winning four of those series’, with only a painful 2-1 loss to Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles at Rogers Centre, as they failed to capitalize on a tremendous eight-inning, 12-strikeout performance from tonight’s starter, J.A. Happ, preventing them from being five-for-five.

Does that mean they’re in a great position tonight, despite’s last night’s drubbing? Well… no. It just doesn’t mean they aren’t, either.

And their position is strengthened quite tremendously by the fact that Adam Lind will return to the lineup tonight, hitting behind Jose Bautista in the cleanup spot that’s been far, far too long vacant of his or Edwin Encarnacion’s bat. The reinforcements are coming. The Jays held on as best they could, and from this point things should get real interesting.

Now don’t fuck it up!

Scuttlebutt

Jose Reyes back in the lineup tonight. Sigh of relief.

Gregor Chisholm tweets that the Jays don’t have Aaron Sanchez, Chad Jenkins, or Todd Redmond available in the bullpen tonight. Otherwise, they’re good to go.

Brendan Kennedy writes in the Toronto Star about J.A. Happ, who has a 1.71 ERA since the All-Star break. Holy!

Meanwhile, in the National Post, John Lott writes about Colby Rasmus, who is not having the kind of contract year he’d hoped for. He also talks to R.A. Dickey about the constant adjustments the Jays’ nominal ace has to make, navigating the deep lineups of the American League with his trick pitch.

The Jays announced today that Neil Wagner will have Tommy John surgery. Ouch.

They also announced, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned on here anywhere (because it’s so screamingly obvious after last night), that Brad Mills was D’d FA in order to make room for the club to activate Adam Lind.

At FanGROFs, Drew wrote about the Orioles’ offence, which, somewhat infuriatingly, continues steaming along. Ugh.

Mike Harrington tweets that Bisons manager Gary Allenson says that Edwin Encarnacion will play first base tomorrow night, and his position for Thursday’s game is TBA. (The Jays have an off-day on Thursday, by the way).

“I don’t run hard, but just try to control my running style, so it will be alright,” says Edwin, according to a tweet from Harrington. (Commas mine). Hmmm.

“I know I ruffled some feathers. I made my apologies and it’s no longer a story,” says Adam Lind of the stuff about his mom telling him to get an MRI, according to a tweet from Barry Davis.

Harring also tweets that Kevin Pillar has been killing it lately, or something. Still doesn’t walk, though.

I’m involved in the next edition of Pitch Talks, which will be taking place a week from Thursday, along with a host of great panelists: Stacey May Fowles, Jenn Smith, Erin Valois, Shi Davidi, Sid Seixeiro and Jeremy Taggart. Get your tickets here.

I also do believe that a week from tonight, Tuesday, with the Jays in Milwaukee, seems like a good time to have a little DJF shindig over at Opera Bob’s. Watch for more info! Though… that’s pretty much the info. Just come drink and eat hot dogs and watch baseball.

Lastly, since Facebook changed its algorithms with respect to sharing, it’s really become a much more powerful social media tool, and so it’s probably in your best interest to just go right ahead and like DJF on Facebook, so that you can get everything that’s posted here injected straight into your feed-veins. Do it.

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 10:10 PM ET @ Seattle

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
RF Jose Bautista (R)
DH Adam Lind (L)
C Dioner Navarro (S)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Danny Valencia (R)
1B Juan Francisco (L)
2B Munenori Kawasaki (L)

LHP J.A. Happ

Seattle Mariners

CF Austin Jackson (R)
LF Dustin Ackley (L)
2B Robinson Cano (L)
DH Kendrys Morales (S)
3B Kyle Seager (L)
RF Chris Denorfia (R)
C Mike Zunino (R)
1B Logan Morrison (L)
SS Chris Taylor (R)

RHP Chris Young