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Aaron Sanchez threw six curveballs over the course of the two innings that made up his big league debut on Wednesday night, according to his player page at Brooks Baseball. Three of them went for strikes, to go along with nine strikes on sixteen four-seamers, and one strike from the three two-seamers (or so the Pitch F/X machine says they were — 93 mph changeups?) that he threw. One of those three curveball strikes was actually the ball in play from Dustin Pedroia, who impressively stayed back on a curve nearly on his shoe-tops and lifted it to centre for the first out of Sanchez’s big league career.

And while he didn’t generate any swing-and-miss, wasn’t the groundball machine he was in the minors (and yes, he was indeed a groundball machine, as his page at the excellent MLB Farm shows), didn’t necessarily hit all of his spots, didn’t show a starter’s repertoire, and likely benefited from the Dickey Effect, the club’s top prospect certainly flashed the kind of pure, raw stuff that has his name written on sites like this for so very long, that allowed the Jays to feel comfortable parting with a guy like Noah Syndergaard, and that the club has so tightly held onto over the years as he was ascending to this moment.

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Now that was a damn enjoyable game of baseball. The Jays won. Jose Bautista homered. The bottom of the lineup wasn’t useless. Casey Janssen looked like his old, efficient self. R.A. Dickey pitched well enough after an early blip, and was taken out before being given the opportunity to let it slip away (after just 98 pitches). First inning negative suckholes were put in their fucking place. Clay Buchholz got lit up and could only manage a single strikeout. Aaron Sanchez debuted and was preposterously efficient in a pair of filthy three-up, three-down innings against some of the best hitters in the majors (though — sorry — he maybe did display a little bit of why he’s still considered a work in progress, too, I thought)(sorry). And Josh Thole!

Shit, JaysTalk callers might not even make me want to break things tonight. And a Mariners loss earlier puts the Jays a half game out of a playoff spot, too.

I can live with that!

(Sorry).

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R.A. Dickey, clearly struggling with a lack of Dickeyface in a recent outing at Rogers Centre.

I should probably have more to say here, but I dunno…

How nails would it be to with this one though, eh? I’ll take a little arbitrary endpointed four out of five at this point, amiright? With Stroman taking the hill tomorrow? Fuckin’ eh I would.

Shit, and with the Mets hanging on against Seattle, a win could take the Jays to within a half game of the second Wild Card spot. Oh, but they’re fucked, right? Eh, tough guy?

Scuttlebutt

The Jays’ missing sluggers are getting close — closer than most of us may even realize. According to a tweet from Gregor Chisholm, Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion may return to the club without even playing a rehab game. Brett Lawrie, Shi Davidi adds, will likely do so, simply because he’s been out for longer.

Gregor also tweets that the timetable for all three of those players is still unclear, though they’re all improving more quickly than first anticipated.

Two more from Gregor, as he tells us that Nolan Reimold is showing some improvement, and that he’ll likely DH against left-handers once everybody is healthy. That means he won’t be taking over in right field, which makes sense because Gregor adds that John Gibbons says we’re not likely to see Jose Bautista move to third base full time at any point — though he suggests there’s the possibility still that he might move there in a pinch.

Brendan Kennedy tweets that, despite the recent struggles and the illness coming out of the break, Casey Janssen will be called upon tonight if there’s a save situation. I buy it.

Another tweet from Brendan tells us that Gibbers says Brett Lawrie will be the club’s full-time third baseman once he returns, meaning that Juan Francisco is soon to be out of the job. Which… is totally warranted, I’m pretty sure.

Lastly, note the game time for tomorrow, and while you’re at it, note that I’m tentatively scheduled to be talkin’ Jays on TSN 1050 here in Toronto tomorrow at 11:30. Tune in!

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 12:37 PM ET vs. Boston

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)
1B Jose Bautista (R)
DH Dioner Navarro (R)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
C Josh Thole (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
RF Anthony Gose (L)

RHP R.A. Dickey

Boston Red Sox

RF Shane Victorino (R)
2B Dustin Pedroia (R)
DH David Ortiz (L)
1B Mike Napoli (R)
LF Daniel Nava (S)
3B Xander Bogaerts (R)
SS Stephen Drew (L)
C Christian Vazquez (R)
CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)

RHP Clay Buchholz

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A few small items of note have come down the ol’ information superhighway this afternoon, and while none of them really deserves its own post, they all certainly are worthy of some attention…

Sergio Santos Clears Waivers

Cue the conspiracy theory twits clamming up: according to a tweet from Ben Nicholson-Smith, Sergio Santo has cleared waivers and will go to Triple-A Buffalo in order to work on getting his command back. So if the Jays’ super-secret — *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* — plan with this move was to save money, I guess they fucked up. Shocking, really, that no team was willing to piss away nearly $4-million (which is what Santos is owed for the remainder of this season plus the $750K buyouts of his three remaining option years) to see if an oft-injured non-closer with 17 walks in 19.2 innings could stave off the injury bug for his longest stretch since 2011 while regaining the form that made him a force at the back of the White Sox bullpen back then.

The Jays, of course, are already on the hook for that money anyway, so obviously they’ll try to get him right and hope that he can be a weapon for them later in the season — just as they’re currently doing with Steve Delabar. It could make for a pretty deadly bullpen if it all works out and everybody stays healthy, especially once rosters expand in September, with options like Janssen, McGowan, Sanchez, Cecil, Loup, Redmond, Delabar, Santos, Wagner, and maybe even Morrow.

One might suppose that they wouldn’t have been crying if somebody took that contract off their hands, but the money is already so spread out that I don’t think it matters too much in the grand scheme. If it meant clearing that almost-$4-million for next year, that would be a different story, but in practical terms they’d be clearing about $1.4-million this year, then only $750K from the budget for each of the next three years. Not helping them that much unless they really want to add another guy at about his salary and really are already stretched to the max — neither of which is impossible, but I just don’t see it when the obvious answer is that they think he can help this year if he gets himself straight, which wasn’t going to happen pitching as sparingly in the majors as his current performance warranted.

Gibbons: The Jays Were “In On” Headley

It’s real fuckin’ easy to say after the fact, but according to a tweet from MLB Network Radio, in an appearance on Power Alley with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette, John Gibbons said that the club was “in on” Chase Headley. You can listen to Gibbers’ comments on that, as well as on Aaron Sanchez’s workload, and the fact that Ryan Goins is going to be playing a lot (because he really helps the club’s defence — though also, for some reason, they seem optimistic that he’s found a better level at which to hold his hands while at the plate, which according to a piece from Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun, is a little higher than where Kevin Seitzer had lowered them to earlier in the season).

The Headley thing… I honestly don’t know how inside the trade talk stuff John Gibbons would be. I think a lot of people might immediately start thinking that this means that the team was in it down to the wire, our in-over-his-head GM beaten out for Headley’s service by the smooth-talkin’ total pro Yankees, or some such utter fucking horseshit. The way I imagine it is more that Gibbons was aware that they were looking at Headley, was asked how he might be a fit, what plans there might have been to use him, whose playing time would have to be sacrificed, etc. I’m entirely just making that up, but I dunno… I’m sure not going to jump to any bigger conclusions based on Gibbers’ supposed knowledge of high level trade talks. He’s got his own job to do, y’know?

Renewed Focus On Pitching Trades?

An insufferable criticism that is too often levelled at the Jays without the hint of any basis in truth — at least as far as anything on the public record is concerned — is the one that goes that the front office operates without a plan. It’s one of those things that people without anything better to piss and moan about, who are unwilling to take a moment’s thought about  the reality of how the front office works, use just because they have some pathological need to spray piss all about as a means to defend against having to contemplate any other of their own feelings.

But… uh… sometimes you maybe see a little kernel of truth in it.

I mean, I know they didn’t actually do anything yet to address the lineup, and that not remotely every rumour you hear is actually true, but… um… really? Back to pitching? We didn’t entirely see these hitters coming back to full health on the horizon? All of the sudden it’s, “Hey, Hutchison’s been bad, maybe we should get a pitcher”?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that these guys are getting closer to returning — and seem to be doing so on or ahead of schedule — but… really?

Layin’ Down The Law

Lastly, Keith Law had a chat with readers today at ESPN.com, and while there weren’t many Jays-related tidbits, one sure stands out. *COUGH*

Keith (kc) [via mobile]
A few years back you were on record as saying Sanchez> Thor. What changed during development to make them flip flop?
Klaw
The Jays shortened Sanchez’ stride, claiming it would help him get over his front side more – when the opposite is true – and it has ruined him in several ways. He’s less athletic, his command has gone backwards, he doesn’t finish the breaking ball as consistently, and of course guys with upright finishes and short strides are at greater risk of injury. Meanwhile, Thor just keeps getting better, going from a below-average curveball to a solid-average one in about a year and a half – and the Mets didn’t touch what was already a good delivery.

Ouch.

This is better, at least:

Sagar (NYC)
Jim Bowden suggested that the Mets could get Franklin Barreto for Bartolo Colon. Any thoughts on Barreto? Wouldn’t that be a steal for the Mets?
Klaw
Zero chance of that happening. Like, zero to the power of ten.

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Pride is a fool’s fortress. Now who’s for Denny’s?

Some rumour mongering (read: throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks) this week out of Philadelphia (mostly via the great MLBTR): Earlier in the week, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported that the Jays might be considering a play for the Phillies’ Kyle Kendrick after a scout from the club watched him recently, even though that totally makes no sense. In a later piece, Salisbury also notes that the Jays (as well as the Yankees) scouted Cliff Lee’s first rehab start, which… yeah, I tend to be on the optimistic side, but I’ll believe Rogers is going to sign off on paying one player $52.5-million for 2015 and ’16 (or $37.5-million for just 2015, including a hefty 2016 buyout) when I fucking see it. Later still, he suggested that both the Yankees and Jays are cool to the idea of a reunion with A.J. Burnett.

Salisbury isn’t necessarily entirely making stuff up, though, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweeted that the Jays indeed were watching the Phillies this week.

It could be a reliever like Antonio Bastardo or Jonathan Papelbon, as Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Jays are one of many clubs that an executive with a reliever to shop told him had shown interest in that particular market (and Salisbury says they’re one of a number of teams on him in particular). Could be due diligence, of course. And maybe things have changed now that Aaron Sanchez is here (and, fingers crossed, that Steve Delabar might be showing something, too).

Another one via MLBTR is a look at the no-trade clause of John Danks, which — according to a tweet from my ‘Merkin friend MLB.com’s Scott Merkin — the Jays are on. Because of course they are.

Sticking in this realm, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com wrote on Tuesday about what it might take for a club to land Chase Headley, and he was kind of way off! For the Jays he figured something like a package of Sean Nolin and Dawel Lugo, which, with Nolin kind of just being a guy (for some reason I’m real soft on him) and Lugo struggling a bit and having some competition at his position in the system, would certainly be a palatable package to give up for something. Granted, maybe not a rental that hasn’t hit all year, but something.

Interesting thought by way of John Sickels’ report at Minor League Ball on the call-up of Aaron Sanchez, as he notes that “His strikeout rate is nothing special and he will give up some walks. However, he is one of the most extreme ground ball pitchers in the minor leagues, posting a 3.13 GO/AO ratio this year and a 2.34 GO/AO in 2013. His fastball has been clocked as high as 98 MPH, works consistently at 94-95, and has vicious sinking action.” Not something we necessarily didn’t know, but it sure made me think of how a guy like Ryan Goins would be useful behind a pitcher like that.

Speaking of Sanchez, over at FanGraphs, Blake Murphy looks at the Jays’ called-up top prospect and “the Trevor Rosenthal experiment,” looking at why the Jays have taken this path. “The most negative of Jays fans (and ghouls) would tell you that Sanchez is going to end up a reliever in the long run, anyway,” he explains, “given his declining strikeout rates and struggles with command. I don’t at all think that’s in play here, even if it’s not an outlandish suggestion. Sanchez is still just 22 years old. You let a top prospect like this fail as a starter before you think bullpen long-term; this is probably all about 2014.” Agreed.

At Baseball Prospectus this morning, Mark Anderson and Ben Carsley gave an in-depth look at Sanchez from a scouting perspective, profiling him thusly: “All told, Sanchez has two knockout pitches that will allow him to be successful in a major-league rotation, but he lacks the changeup and strike-throwing to profile as a front-line starter. Once established in the big leagues, he should provide very good mid-rotation performance and could have streaks where he dominates teams when his entire arsenal works at peak levels.” Anderson likes the move for the Jays, explaining that “Sanchez should be able to dominate burst outings on the back of his fastball and curve alone, and it should help him learn what it takes to put away big-league hitters as he looks toward a larger role in 2015.”

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NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT. Except… ruh-roh!

Yeah… I got nothing. Nice to win one that didn’t require any heart-stopping moments or anything, though, eh? Actual runs were scored!

(Pro tip: if you want to read something interesting post-game, try Shi Davidi’s latest at Sportsnet, where he explains what a key cog Aaron Sanchez could be for this club, how today’s roster moves are more designed to setup the club for the impending return of Encarnacion, Lawrie, and Lind, and where he reveals that he’s heard the Jays “had far less interest in than has been reported” in Chase Headley, and that Alex Rios “isn’t on their radar.” Skip the bits about Ryan Goins potentially being useful if you need.)

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Welp. Let’s try this again.

I’d say more, but I think I’ve spilled enough words since last night about whatever the fuck is going on, and frankly… I’m not ready to think about what the hell might be about to happen.

Hey, but Aaron Sanchez is here! That’s something!

Scuttlebutt

Mike Wilner tweets that John Gibbons says Ryan Goins is “here to play.” Ugh. Better news, though, as he adds that Brett Lawrie swung a modified bat today. So… he’s progressing, at least, even if the thinking in the Jays’ front office about Goins necessarily isn’t.

Brenan Kennedy tweets that Gibbers says Sanchez will have his innings limited to about 130 this season. He’s at 100.1 so far in the minors. He adds that Gibbons says he’ll look to get Sanchez into games at the start of a clean inning, rather than with runners on, at least at first.

Another tweet from Kennedy tells us that while Steve Tolleson didn’t hit the paternity list today, his wife is due within the next couple of weeks.

John Lott tweets that Erik Kratz lost his spot mostly because the Jays aren’t scheduled to face any left-handed starters until they get to Fenway Park next week.

More from Lott: Gibbons on Francisco playing first base: “He can play it… you hope.” And on Goins: “He’ll play a lot out there.” Ugh.

Francisco is in there tonight over Dan Johnson, according to a tweet from Barry Davis, because of some microsplits. Great.

Ben Wagner tweets that in Buffalo last night, Steve Delabar had his best outing since being sent down: “4K in 2 scoreless. Velo +/- 95mph, nasty split.” Get him back up here if he keeps this up!

Megan Robinson tells us that Aaron Sanchez is the youngest pitcher on an MLB active roster right now. (By the way, he was drafted out of high school — where the Jays have focussed heavily — in Alex Anthopoulos’s first draft as GM. Think about that, maybe, before you complain about how so few of the guys he’s drafted aren’t in the big leagues yet).

Scott MacArthur notices that the Cubs have D’d Darwin Barney FA, calling him the right-handed Ryan Goins. Well, he’s got a .358 OBP against lefties this year, so Eno Sarris retweets a half-serious suggestion: Barney for Sergio Santos? I dunno, could be a thing.

The Blue Jays almost had Jose Bautista receive tonight’s “first pitch” — a serve from Milos Raonic — but thought better of it, according to a tweet from Barry Davis. Milos said that even if he took a lot off his serve, it would still be upwards of 100 mph, so… yeah, probably a good idea (though Buehrle did it, and it’s not like he’s a whole lot less crucial).

“There’ll be other seasons,” tweets a soulless ghoul.

AA Speaks (via some of my own tweets)

“Any time you see us linked to a player daily and it’s not from a Cdn-based media outlet, normally there’s not anything to it,” says AA.

Anthopoulos on Fan 590 says he’s talking trades, and about a specific player that he hasn’t heard out there as yet.

“We’re in a holding pattern for the next five or six days,” AA says he’s been told by another GM. Extra Wild Card changes calculations.

AA laying groundwork for disappointment? Says more may happen in August this year. (Believable, though, to be fair.)

No other plans or thoughts for Hutchison. “He’s going to make his next start,” Anthopoulos says.

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:07 PM ET vs. Boston

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)
C Dioner Navarro (R)
DH Colby Rasmus (L)
1B Juan Francisco (L)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
CF Anthony Gose (L)

LHP J.A. Happ

Boston Red Sox

CF Brock Holt (L)
2B Dustin Pedroia (R)
DH David Ortiz (L)
1B Mike Napoli (R)
LF Jonny Gomes (R)
RF Shane Victorino (R)
SS Stephen Drew (L)
3B Xander Bogaerts (R)
C David Ross (R)

RHP Jake Peavy

 

Image via @BKennedyStar.