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MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 31: Francisco Liriano #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after giving up a home run to Chris Carter #33 of the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Miller Park on July 31, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Jays lose marathon game to Astros | Liriano at the deadline | Sanchez to the pen? Is it the right decision? | Tulo and JD sit with injuries

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 31: Francisco Liriano #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after giving up a home run to Chris Carter #33 of the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth inning at Miller Park on July 31, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Quick Reaction: Toronto Blue Jays 1, Houston Astros 2

Masterful showing by Marcus for the game, recording 13 strikeouts with 3 hits and 1 walk. His only mistake came in the bottom of the 6th when he allowed a home run on a 2 strike breaking ball. Stroman went 7 innings on the day and picked up the no decision.

Stroman’s big night wasted as Blue Jays fall to Astros in extras | Toronto Star

So Monday was something of a throwback performance for the 5-foot-8 righty, who set a new career high with 13 Ks — his previous high was nine — by carving up an aggressive Astros’ lineup.

Unfortunately for Stroman, his teammates were equally whiffy, racking up a franchise-record 22 strikeouts en route to a marathon, 2-1 loss in 14 innings, their second straight extra-inning defeat.

“Games like this if you win ’em it feels a little bit better,” manager John Gibbons said afterward. “But games like this can set you back, because our pitching staff’s gassed.”

After having to cover 26 innings in the past two days, Gibbons suggested they would need to make a move or two on Tuesday to call up fresh arms. “We’re basically down to nothing down there.”

With a lineup depleted by niggling injuries — Josh Donaldson is dealing with a tight hamstring and Troy Tulowitzki has a chip-fractured thumb, although both are expected to avoid the disabled list — the Jays couldn’t mount much of anything against Astros starter Doug Fister. Fister threw six scoreless innings Monday night before handing the ball to the bullpen, which fared equally well until the ninth.

That’s when Jays catcher Russell Martin stepped to the plate and clubbed a mammoth, game-tying homer — estimated at 444 feet — off Astros closer Will Harris.

New Blue Jay Feldman tagged for loss against former team | Toronto Sun

When he arrived at the park he was informed he had been traded to Toronto. He packed up his bag and walked across the field to meet his new team, expecting and hoping his presence wouldn’t be needed.

But there he was, on the mound in the 14th and his old friends made short work of him. Leadoff man Jose Altuve singled. Then Carlos Correa doubled into the right field gap. Ballgame.

“I didn’t want to use him,” said manager John Gibbons. “He pitched a couple of innings the night before (he threw 38 pitches in an 11-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers). It wasn’t fair to him. But he came to me and said he wanted to pitch instead of having one of our starters have to pitch. He could see that we were getting thin as we went through extra innings and he wanted to help.”

Feldman threw a grand total of four pitches, then walked off the mound a loser in his first game with his new team, victimized by his old team.

“I felt fine when I went out there,” he said. “I just didn’t make good pitches.

“It’s a little different, a little weird, but you play long enough, you see some crazy stuff in baseball. I felt fine, but unfortunately, we lost that game.”

It was a strange end to a long day.

The game that never ends, ended. Astros win in 14 innings | Bluebird Banter

It seemed like Russell Martin was going to be Mighty Mouse, he came and, seemingly, saved the day. It looked like we were going to waste a great start by Marcus Stroman, until Martin homered to lead off the 9th.

Marcus pitched 7 innings, allowed just 3 hits, 1 walk and struck out 13.

He gave up a home run, to Jose Altuve, one of those cheapy Minute Maid Park style home run. Altuve didn’t hit it hard, but it isn’t exactly a long way out to the ‘Crawfish Boxes’. It wasn’t a bad pitch.

Marcus did make a bad throw on a tapper that got past him, he chased it down and made an off-balance throw that he really shouldn’t have, but then he stranded the runner at second base.

On offense, other than Martin’s home run, we did nothing much. We had 6 hits, 4 singles, the home and a double, and 3 walks. We also struck out 22 times. I really think the hitter’s background isn’t great. No one seemed to be able to pick up a pitch. It looked like they weren’t seeing the pitch out of the pitcher’s hand.

Blue Jays drop a strikeout festival to Astros in 14 innings | Jays Journal

The Toronto Blue Jays dropped a 14-inning game filled with strikeouts on Tuesday night in Houston, losing 2-1 despite a great start from Marcus Stroman. The Jays set a franchise record of the wrong variety, striking out 22 times.

After burning through much of their bullpen, the Jays were forced to turn the ball over to Scott Feldman who had thrown 38 pitches last night as a member of the Astros. Carlos Correa quickly brought around Jose Altuve with a  game-winning double.

Stroman looked as good as he ever has for the Blue Jays, striking out a career-high 13 batters in seven innings. The young right-hander allowed just three hits and one earned run.

Altuve finally cracked Stroman with two outs in the bottom of the sixth as a breaking ball caught just a bit too much of the plate. Altuve sent a solo home run, his 19th of the season, over the left-field wall.

Toronto’s bats were held completely silent until the ninth, when Russell Martin turned on a Ken Giles pitch and launched it an estimated 444 feet.

Following the money in the Liriano-Hutchison trade | JaysNation

Drew Hutchison is going the other way, per a tweet from BP Toronto’s Gideon Turk. He is the only piece moving from Toronto’s end. Meanwhile, the Jays also receive Double-A outfield prospect Harold Ramirez, and Double-A catching prospect (and 13th overall pick from 2013) Reese McGuire.

The 21-year-old Ramirez was the 95th best prospect in baseball heading into this season, according to Baseball America, and ranked 80th on Baseball Prospectus’s list (per BR), though is maybe a little green yet to be thought of as an asset for a club that may be about to lose a couple outfielders in the winter — especially one with designs on contending.

MLB.com had Ramirez ninth in a strong Pirates system (fronted by four of their top 30 prospects, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, and Jameson Taillon), mostly because of his bat, suggesting that he looks to be a future everyday big leaguer.

McGuire ranks eighth on the same (though is behind Ramirez on others), as a strong defensive catcher. “How much his bat can catch up to his glove should ultimately determine his Major League role.”

Obviously this helps their farm system in terms of not just talent but trade chips — it’s harder to trade a Dalton Pompey or an Anthony Alford, for example, when there is simply no one else behind them who is close, and so maybe this allows the club to do something with one of them, or with Max Pentecost, over the winter.

And all it cost them was… um… a bunch of money committed in 2017.

That’s money with upside, to be sure. Liriano is intriguing, and has worked well with Russell Martin in the past. But ideally they’re not gambling on him finding his form so much as they’re hoping he can at least be OK — just as they would have with Hutchison (who I think they understandably weren’t terribly enamoured with — certainly not in the way that some fans weirdly are), but in this case for a year less, and for quite a bit more money.

Blue Jays trade for Francisco Liriano, two other arms | Toronto Sun

In the aftermath of all those moves, Liriano becomes the fallback position in the rotation when Aaron Sanchez moves to the bullpen later this month. Sanchez met with pitching coach Pete Walker and manager John Gibbons for about 20 minutes before Monday’s game, presumably to lay the groundwork for his transition to the bullpen.

Gibbons would not comment on the meeting, other than to say that Sanchez would make his next start in Kansas City next weekend.

“We’re still working through the timing of it, but this allows us to do that,” said GM Ross Atkins. “We haven’t worked through all the details yet.”

Liriano is 6-11 with a 5.46 ERA in 21 starts with the Pirates. He has also issued 69 walks in just 113 innings, an average of more than five walks per every nine innings.

“Francisco, specifically, was one of the guys two months ago that we started to do work on,” said Atkins. “But I’m looking at a list in front of me and that list is 20-deep. As you work through alteratives and acquisition costs, you’re only presented with so many decision that you can choose from.”

“He has a great arm and we’re looking to reunite him with Russell (Martin),” said Gibbons. “When he was really rolling, Russell was catching him over there in Pittsburgh. Some guys just work better with certain catchers. One of Russell’s big strengths is bringing the best out of pitchers.”

Blue Jays cash in with late Liriano swap | Toronto Star

The inclusion of prospects — afforded by the Jays’ ability to take on salary — made the deal lopsided in the Jays’ favour in the eyes of many evaluators, not to mention Pirates’ fans.

Atkins said he didn’t set out to add to the farm system at the deadline, “but we were opportunistic when it presented itself.”

Liriano will eventually take Aaron Sanchez’s spot in the rotation as the Jays plan to shift their prized young arm — who has arguably been the best starting pitcher in the American League to this point — to the bullpen in order to limit his workload and protect him from injury.

Manager John Gibbons said Sanchez will make his next scheduled start on Friday in Kansas City, but after that it’s unclear. Atkins said they’re still “working through the timing” of Sanchez’s shift, but it will happen in the near future.

Blue Jays Acquire Francisco Liriano, Drew Hutchison Headed to Pittsburgh | Bluebird Banter

Update: Both prospects the Blue Jays are receiving are now known: OF Harold Ramirez, and C Reese McGuire.

Ramirez is a 21-year old outfielder who was ranked as the Pirates 9th best prospect by MLB.com. He’s currently hitting .312 in AA this year, but only has two home runs in 407 plate appearances. His calling card is his strong contact skills, as he also hit over .300 in 2014 and 2015. He’s played mostly in centre field this season, but likely ends up as a corner outfielder as a professional.

McGuire, also 21, is a defensive minded catcher who was ranked as the Pirates 8th best prospect by MLB.com. He was the 14th pick of the 2013 MLB draft, but has struggled offensively as a pro. He’s posted .267/.337/.348 in AA this year, but has a higher walk rate than strikeout rate. He’s shown very little power to date, but terrific defence could more than make up for that.

The Blue Jays Get Their Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano | Blue Jay Hunter

This move allowed the Blue Jays to do two things; it gave them a starting pitcher in Liriano, but it also allowed them to acquire a high-leverage reliever in Aaron Sanchez.

Not only was this trade a win-now move for the Blue Jays, it also netted them two of the Pirates Top 10 prospects. It may not be viewed this way by the fans, but the real coup in this deal was the prospects involved in this deal; regardless of how much money was left on Liriano’s deal.

You won’t mind many crying foul over trading Drew Hutchison; he had his moments of potential with the Blue Jays, but ultimately just couldn’t rekindle some of that magic he briefly showed during the second half of the 2014 season.

For whatever reason, the Pittsburgh Pirates really coveted Drew Hutchison and were willing to give up three players in total to bring him to Pittsburgh. A three-for-one trade, with the established Major Leaguer among those three players.

The trade looks like a very good deal for the Toronto Blue Jays here, but I’m not really sure what the Pirates were thinking on this one. It would’ve made more sense if the Blue Jays had sent Drew Hutchison plus prospects for Francisco Liriano. But in fact it was the Bucs sending prospects to the Jays, which kind of blows my mind.

Jays add Scott Feldman from Houston, trade Jesse Chavez to Dodgers for Mike Bolsinger | JaysNation

Chavez seems like not a bad lottery ticket for a team to take (he was the Jays’ 20th ranked prospect according to MLB.com), but in return the Jays get back a nice rental piece in the right-hander Feldman, who has the lowest exit velocity in baseball this year, according to a tweet from Mr. Brian Kenny, and sports a 2.90 ERA with 42 strikeouts and just 13 walks over 62 innings, mostly in relief (though he’s also made five starts for the Astros as well).

Feldman’s FIP is less impressive, but thanks to his fastball-cutter-curve mix he regularly produces low rates of hard contact and out-pitches that FIP, while having a decent ground ball rate, too. He’s… fine.

Better than Chavez, at least, and less terrifying!

And like the Grilli, Benoit, and Upton trades before them, all they’re giving up for a better swingman and a little extra Triple-A starting depth is a guy who was a DFA waiting to happen and a lesser prospect. Not sexy, but not bad at all.

Blue Jays Acquire RHP Scott Feldman | Bluebird Banter

This could end up being a nice under-the-radar type of deal for the Jays, as Feldman posted an ERA under 4 in each of the last three seasons as a starter. This appears to be a much lower price than it would take for Jeremy Hellickson or Ervin Santana, so the Jays could end up with terrific value here. It’s nice to see the Blue Jays upgrading the roster without destroying their farm system.

Blue Jays acquire Scott Feldman from Houston Astros | Jays Journal

The 33-year-old Feldman is a 6-foot-7 right-hander that is in the final year of a three-year, $30 million deal that pays him $8 million.

The longtime Texas Ranger has been filling a swing-man role for the Blue Jays, something that corresponds with the reported move of Jesse Chavez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Mike Bolsinger.

In five starts and 21 relief appearances, Feldman has thrown 62.0 innings with a 2.90 ERA while walking just 1.9 batters per nine innings and striking out 6.1. His most recent start came on June 28th, but Feldman has pitched two or more innings in all but one of his July relief appearances.

Feldman relies on a cutter that he throws slightly more than his fastball, which typically sits around 89-91 MPH. He also features a curveball and seldom-used split-finger.

Quick Reactions; The Blue Jays Get Scott Feldman & Mike Bolsinger | Blue Jay Hunter

Both Feldman and Chavez are free agents at season’s end and both have very similar payroll commitments the remainder of the season. With Scott Feldman, the Blue Jays receive an upgrade in the bullpen, and the potential for Feldman to make the odd spot start.

Scott Feldman is essentially the player the Blue Jays had hoped Jesse Chavez was supposed to be for them this season. I really like the acquisition of Feldman for the Blue Jays, as he’s a versatile pitcher and it allows the Blue Jays to use him in relief or the starting rotation, if need be.

Not to mention, he has the lowest average exit velocity of all pitchers in MLB right now at 85.3 MPH. Even if batters make contact off Scott Feldman, they tend not to hit him very hard. This is great news for a pitcher now throwing in a hitter-friendly ballpark and with a stellar defense playing behind him.

Feldman was used predominantly as a starter since the 2008 season, but the Houston Astros opted to use him out of the bullpen since the beginning of May. Since that move, Feldman owns a tidy 2.35 ERA and has only surrendered 2 walks in 21 games out the bullpen.

The Jesse Chavez for Mike Bolsinger deal isn’t much to look at. Evidently, the Blue Jays were on the verge of designating Chavez for assignment, and they received a starting depth piece in return for Chavez rather than nothing that all.

It’s a very similar situation to that of Drew Storen for Joaquin Benoit, except the piece in return for Chavez is a starter, and a triple-A quality starter at that. It sounds like we shouldn’t expect Bolsinger to make an impact on the big league roster, but he could be called up later in the season as a roster reinforcement.

Blue Jays end Trade Deadline with a Flurry | Jays From the Couch

At 4:49 PM, info of the day’s biggest move came from an unlikely source, however, it proved to be 100% correct. And, with it, Toronto finally landed their frontline starter. A quality arm that will help the transition of Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Blue Jays acquired LHP Francisco Liriano from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Liriano has struggled this season to the tune of a 6-11 record with a 5.46 ERA. The lefty has seen his HR/9 spike from 0.7 in 2015 to 1.5 this season, along with a BB/9 of 5.5. Both aren’t ideal, but there is a good chance he can find his form again with Russell Martin catching him once again.

Toronto sent Drew Hutchison who has spent the season pitching with the Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo Bisons. Hutchison has made two spot starts with the big club this season compiling a 1-0 record with a 4.91 ERA. In Buffalo, he put together a solid campaign of 6-5, with a 3.26 ERA and an impressive 9.7 K/9 ratio.

With Toronto taking on the remaining money owed Liriano (approx $4.6M for ’16, and $13.67M in ’17) which is no small amount. They were able to acquire two of the Pirates’ top prospects in return.

Reese McGuire (catcher) and Harold Ramirez (outfielder) are rated by MLB Pipeline as the #8 and #9 prospects in Pittsburgh’s organization, respectively.

Jesse Chavez traded to Dodgers for Mike Bolsinger | Bluebird Banter

Chavez, a 32-year-old right-hander, has not been impressive in his second stint with the Blue Jays, compiling a 4.57 ERA in 39 relief appearances, allowing nine home runs in 41 innings. He had a lot of struggles with inherited runners, allowing 15 of 31 to score, which has him among lead leaders in the statistic. He was acquired by Toronto this past offseason from the Oakland A’s for Liam Hendriks, and is now headed back to the west coast to the aptly named Chavez Ravine.

Blue Jays trade Jesse Chavez for Mike Bolsinger | Jays Journal

This follows a second deal, reported almost simultaneously, that the Blue Jays had acquired swingman Scott Feldman from the Houston Astros in exchange for 18-year-old pitching prospect Guadalupe Chavez.

After arriving in Toronto via an offseason deal for fan favourite Liam Hendriks, Jesse Chavez did not live up to expectations in a relief role. He leaves the Blue Jays with a 4.57 ERA over 39 games, a number largely inflated by the nine home runs he allowed over 41.1 innings pitched. In his last outing, Chavez allowed a three-run home run in the 12th inning against the Baltimore Orioles that led to a loss.

In Bolsinger, Toronto adds a depth starter whose role within the organization is not immediately clear. He has made six MLB starts this season for the injury-riddled Dodgers, going 1-4 with a 6.83 ERA. Last season with the Dodgers, Bolsinger looked much stronger over 21 starts with a 3.62 ERA.

In 13 appearances with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, including two starts, Bolsinger has posted a 3.41 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 29.0 innings.

One of the most important factors regarding Bolsinger is that he is under team control until 2022, and does not become arbitration eligible until 2018.

Sanchez heads to Blue Jays bullpen after deadline deals: Griffin | Toronto Star

“We feel like transitioning him to a relief role would be the best thing for us being in Game 7 of the World Series,” first-year Jays GM Ross Atkins said via conference call. “The other opportunity of adding (Pirates) prospects was just something that presented itself — not our sole focus — but any opportunity we have to add talent we take.”

For the sake of transparency, I will admit I am not a big fan of moving Sanchez to the bullpen with two months remaining in the season. The 24-year-old, who leads the American League in ERA, has not lost a decision in 17 starts since April 22 and even though he has reached a new professional high with 139 1/3 innings after Sunday’s outing, he averages under 15 pitches per inning — quite efficient. He still has it.

Comparisons are made to pitchers like Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals and the controversy several years ago when Washington shut him down, then went on to fail in the playoffs. A difference is, Strasburg had already had Tommy John surgery. There is no tangible proof this is the right decision.

Will moving Sanchez to bullpen disrupt the Jays? | TSN

With what could be making the Jays’ rotation weaker, Josh Donaldson was politically correct when sharing his thoughts about Aaron Sanchez moving into the bullpen. Scott MacArthur has more.

Atkins, Blue Jays say Sanchez’s bullpen move coming soon | Jays Journal

In adding Francisco Liriano from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Blue Jays have found Sanchez’s replacement in the rotation when that time comes. The addition of Mike Bolsinger from the Los Angeles Dodgers will serve as triple-A level depth, similar to the role that Drew Hutchison occupied before being included in the Liriano deal.

Sanchez is still scheduled to make his next start on Friday in Kansas City, but beyond that, the door is officially open to his bullpen transition.

Currently the American League leader in ERA at 2.71 with an 11-1 record, Sanchez’s 139.1 innings represent a career high. A careful balance that the organization must strike is finding the right time to transition him, because it’s vital that he still has enough endurance to be a valuable bullpen piece down the stretch.

Injury risk remains a real factor out of the bullpen, of course, where Sanchez will be maxing out for one or two innings at a time instead of maintaining his output over a full start. The most difficult part of this conversation is that, unlike many things in baseball, the proper handling of a young arm is still an inexact science. Looking around the league at other arms like Matt Hatt Harvey, it’s obviously still a work in progress.

Donaldson, Tulowitzki sit out versus Astros | Toronto Sun

Both shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and third baseman Josh Donaldson were riding the pines Monday for the opener of this four-game series, nursing injuries.

Donaldson, who tweaked his chronic hamstring strain on Saturday, then again when he had to enter the game on Sunday, needed a day, maybe two, to take care of the inflammation. Donaldson was originally in the lineup, but after manager John Gibbons consulted him Monday afternoon, he got the day off. To that point, he had played in 103 of Toronto’s 105 games.

“After talking to him I decided that we can’t risk it turning into anything long-term. That would be a disaster. We’ll give him the day off and hopefully that knocks it out of there,” said Gibbons.

Tulowitzki suffered a chip fracture in his right thumb when hit by a Chris Tillman pitch on Sunday. On Monday, he found it too painful to grip a bat but the Jays are expecting him to be back by Tuesday or Wednesday.

“He feels better but he’s not able to play yet. It shouldn’t be more than a couple of days, though. It didn’t swell up on him like we thought it might so that’s a good sign.”

Blue Jays’ Tulowitzki confident he’ll avoid DL with thumb issue | Sportsnet.ca

Manager John Gibbons said the swelling in Tulowitzki’s right thumb, where he suffered a chip fracture Sunday, was “better today than we anticipated so hopefully it’s only a couple of days.”

The shortstop took some grounders and did some throwing before the game but isn’t comfortable enough yet to swing the bat “and not be scared to do things,” he said.

“It’s probably hitting more than it is fielding or throwing,” said Tulowitzki. “It’s still a little bit swollen, get some of that out of there, come back out here (Tuesday) and see how much I can do. … I’m definitely headed in the right direction.”

Donaldson, Tulowitzki sit out Jays-Astros opener | Toronto Star

Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki were both out of the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Houston Astros, but the Blue Jays don’t expect either to require a stint on the disabled list for their respective ailments.

Tulowitzki was hit by a pitch on his right thumb in Sunday’s game and while he was still able to throw, he couldn’t comfortably grip a bat. “Shouldn’t be more than a couple days, we hope,” manager John Gibbons said Monday.

Donaldson, meanwhile, tweaked his hamstring when legging out an infield single in Saturday’s 9-1 win over Baltimore. He was the designated hitter on Sunday and was in the Jays’ first posted lineup on Monday before he was scratched.

“Can’t risk it turning into anything long term,” Gibbons said. “That would be a disaster.”

Blue Jays MiLB Report: Borucki, Alford with strong nights | Jays Journal

Buffalo Bisons (55-44)   –   6
Syracuse Chiefs (48-60)   –   5

The top of the Bisons’ lineup got the job done as they moved back above .500. Darrell Ceciliani hit a two-run home run while Ryan Goins went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored. Dalton Pompey singled, doubled, and scored twice out of the leadoff spot.

Chris Leroux had an uneven outing, but got the job done. The Canadian allowed five runs (four earned) on just three hits, walking three and striking out two. Bo Schultz pitched a clean frame and handed off to Danny Barnes, who moved his triple-A ERA to 0.51 with a scoreless eighth. Ryan Tepera worked around two hits and a walk to pick up his 15th save.

July 31, 2016 Minor League Report | Blue Jays from Away

Dunedin Blue Jays 6, Jupiter Hammerheads 5

The Dunedin Blue Jays rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk off with a win against the Jupiter Hammerheads on Sunday. Jorge Flores led off the ninth with a double and he was followed by Anthony Alford who doubled him home. After a groundout and two intentional walks, Danny Jansen drove home the winning run with a sacrifice fly to center. While Jansen only had one other hit and a walk, he finished the game with three RBI. Anthony Alford (2/4, 2B, BB, RBI, 2 R, OF Asst.), Richard Urena (2/5, R), Jorge Flores (2/4, 2B, R) and Jonathan Davis (2/4, 2B, BB, R) had two hits each.

Francisco Rios got the start for the Blue Jays, giving up four runs (three earned) on three hits (including a home run) and three walks but struck out seven over five innings. Alonzo Gonzalez followed him with three innings of one-run ball, allowing two hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Dusty Isaacs pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out one to earn the win.

Player of the Game: Anthony Alford, Jorge Flores and Danny Jansen

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