After Tuesday’s stellar performance, the Blue Jays have to be feeling mighty good about the prospects of facing the Orioles in a winner-take-all wild-card clash next week.
Young ace Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 and allowed only a single run in six sterling innings and the Jays moved two games ahead of Baltimore in the home field race with a 5-1 victory.
Coming off of one of the more demoralizing losses of the season — because it included a Jason Grilli blown save and injuries to two key players when they could least afford any absences — it was crucial for the Blue Jays to get off to a good start on Tuesday.
Mission accomplished. It would be hard to begin stronger than the Jays did in the opener of this crucial three-game series.
Sanchez looked masterful in striking out the side in the first, before reigning MVP Josh Donaldson deposited a two-run bomb into the second deck in left field in the bottom of the inning.
Marco Estrada had set a club record earlier this month with five strikeouts in a row to begin a game and Sanchez would ring his total up to four and five of six, before getting out of a two-on-two-out situation in the second unscathed.
“Really as good as it can get,” was how manager John Gibbons described Sanchez’s work.
The hard-throwing right-hander led the way once again on Tuesday night, allowing one run over six solid innings en route to the Jays’ convincing 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. With the win the Jays extend their lead over Baltimore to two games for the top wild-card spot and home-field advantage in the American League play-in game, scheduled for next Tuesday.
As it stands this pivotal series could be a preview of that game, with Baltimore currently holding the second wild-card berth ahead of Detroit and Seattle. After Tuesday, however, Baltimore’s lead has shrunk to a single game.
Sanchez, who struck out 10 of the 26 batters he faced on Tuesday night, would be the Jays’ obvious choice to start the one-and-done contest. He’s next scheduled to pitch the final game of the regular season Sunday in Boston, but if the Jays are able to secure their position before then he could easily be bumped back a couple days.
If Tuesday was any indication, he figures to be a good matchup against the Orioles, who have lived and died by the long ball this season, clubbing an MLB-best 245 homers this season — 26 more than the second-place Jays. But Sanchez kept them in the park all night, alternating his mid-90s fastball with a knee-buckling curve and limiting the damage to just five hits, only one for extra bases.
Even if Sanchez hadn’t been good on Tuesday he would still be considered for the wild-card start, manager John Gibbons said.
“Bottom line is we’ve got to get there first,” he added. “We’ll talk about all this and that (after). Let’s get there first. We’ve got a few guys who could pitch that game and you’d feel very, very good. There’s no doubt he’s had a tremendous year and you couldn’t go wrong with him.”
Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 as the Blue Jays beat Orioles and move two games up on Baltimore in wild card race.
Jays of the Day
Sanchez (.199) pitched a great game. He’s now 14-2 on the year. Carrera (.196), Donaldson (.177) also get the nod’s for their production (HR and 2 RBI a piece). Biagini gets a nod from me for his 2-innings of work.
Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 batters over six innings, to lead the Jays to a win over the O’s, winning the season series. When will see Sanchez make his next start? Kelcey Brade and Scott MacArthur have more.
Ezequiel Carrera slid into the leadoff spot tonight to fill in for the injured Devon Travis. Zeke was fantastic sliding in, going an impressive 2 for 3 with a walk, 3 runs, and 2 RBIs.
The rest of the offense was also on their game, jumping on the Orioles for 5 runs. This would include home runs from Josh Donaldson (his 37th of the year) as well as the hero of the day, Ezequiel Carrera.
Great defense was also on display for the Jays. Included was a fantastic play from Troy Tulowitzki that would help limit the damage when the Orioles had two runners on in the second inning. Manny Machado blasted a ball towards short but Tulowitzki made an amazing stab for the out.
Donaldson made a fantastic infield play as well in the top of the fourth. Donaldson would range way to his right, make a rolling pick up, and fire the ball on to first to get Matt Wieters.
Pillar would also get into the action, making one of his amazing Superman catches off of Jonathan Schoop in the 8th.
Aaron Sanchez himself was a human highlight, dominating the Orioles through 6 innings. Sanchez posted an impressive line of 5 H 1 R 1 ER and 3 BB. What made it so impressive, was that Sanchez would strike out 10 along the way, rocking a tribute to Joes Fernandez on his hat.
Buck Showalter was ejected tonight as well, which is always a bonus.
“It was a weird situation because everybody’s coming out and it could have happened even in the dugout trying to just go back to the mound,” Benoit said.
This is an interesting line of argument – the “It could have happened a million different ways” defence.
Imagine if it was extended to jurisprudence: “Your honour, while it’s true that I did burn the plaintiff’s house down by deluging it in gasoline and tossing in a match, I suggest to you that the house could just as easily have been hit by lightning.”
Even Benoit admitted he was “full bore” as he exited the bullpen. When you’re 39 years old, pushing 250 pounds and do a job that requires little to no running, you might want to limit your “full bore” bursts to zero.
The Jays estimate that Benoit will be out two to three weeks, by which time he will need some sort of rehab to get back into game shape. Optimistically, that means he will not return until the American League Championship Series.
And now Benoit is gone, taking with him his swing and miss stuff and 17 holds. The Blue Jays brought up big-armed, 28-year-old right-hander Chris Smith, who was at Double-A and might be able to catch a few Orioles off-guard. Smith joined the team one night after Jason Grilli was rocked by the Yankees Mark Teixeira, lending credence in some quarters to the suspicion his effectiveness is waning in this final week. In Tuesday’s 5-1 win over the Orioles, Cecil was up three times in the bullpen, throwing twice. So was Grilli, and in the end Gibbons used Roberto Osuna in a four-run game. “Four runs, three runs … you got to win the game,” he said – in a statement that speaks volumes.
The injury throws the Blue Jays potential post-season roster picture into a tizzy, and likely guarantees that Francisco Liriano moves into the pen.
“It’s a big loss, because he’s been so good for us,” Gibbons said of Benoit. “But Cecil’s been better … we have (Joe Biagini). We’ll have to lean on those guys.
“You don’t like it,” Gibbons added, “but the game of baseball goes on.”
Benoit’s contribution to the mid-season makeover of the bullpen cannot be minimized. His first-batter efficiency is a sterling 42-for-51 and he has struck out 16 of the last 43 batters he faced. Benoit has allowed just two extra-base hits to left-handed batters in his last 30 games.
“It felt like something hit me, and then is started to hurt,” Benoit said of his stumble and fall, as he joined the rest of the Blue Jays relievers out of the left-field bullpen en route to the rumble near home plate. “It was a weird situation, because everybody runs out … it could have happened just going out to the mound from the dugout.”
To have your seventh inning reliever walk away on crutches and your starting second baseman and lead-off hitter needing the shoulder that was operated on twice last year checked out, with a week left before the playoffs, because of a brawl that came as a result of a beanball war that your team pursued for absolutely no good goddamn reason? That shit would be hilarious if it wasn’t so unbelievably stupid, and it would look good on whichever collection of shitheels pulled it if they weren’t ours.
Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees weren’t without sin on Monday night. They may have started it — Shi Davidi’s post at Sportsnet suggests replays show catcher Gary Sanchez “twice looking up at Donaldson before pointing way inside with his index finger before the pitch” that hit him — and they certainly escalated things unnecessarily when Luis Severino threw at Justin Smoak in the bottom of the second. Chase Headley’s post-game comments about the Jays being the “king of fun,” and complaining about bat flips and Marcus Stroman yelling as he pitches are not a good look for their side, especially if the implication is that throwing at Blue Jays players is therefore somehow justified. But that doesn’t make the Jays’ actions any less stupid.
And yes, the umpires were wholly fucking useless on Monday night, and could have — should have — put a stop to this horseshit after J.A. Happ’s first pitch behind Chase Headley’s back, if not after Severino hit Donaldson, or his first pitch to Smoak. But to me this was still all about the Blue Jays, and it was kiiiiiind of all about them being fucking clowns.
I’m sorry. I know people like to take a “my team right or wrong” kind of stance in these things sometimes, and I would totally do that if it were possible, but I can’t do it here. This was flat out stupid, unnecessary, childish, and may have significantly impacted their season. Throwing at players is always stupid, of course. Getting into potentially injurious situations with a team that has nothing left to play for and a week remaining before the playoffs is dumber still. And yet this was still especially stupid beyond that!
Sportsnet’s “manalyst” Gregg Zaun felt that Happ did the right thing, saying that the adults throwing baseballs at each other was part of “the game within the game.” I’m no baseball insider but I know that the Blue Jays are paying Happ $10 million to play and win at the game of baseball. Happ eventually finished another good outing, but he could’ve easily been ejected and forced John Gibbons to tax his bullpen all game.
As Jays fan, my mind usually finds ways to defend the team’s actions, no matter how wrong or deleterious it may be, but I really can’t do it this time. The team, led by Happ, took their focus away from finishing the sweep against the Yankees and put it on trying to settle a score. If it were the Orioles or Tigers or some other rival who was pitching inside and hitting their players, or if it was during a dry spell and felt they needed something to rally around, I could almost see myself defending some sort of retaliation. But I can’t do it here because it came during a three-game winning streak against a team that they have dominated over all season and is out of contention. Why get into a fight with someone who has little-to-nothing to lose?
I really hope that Benoit’s injury turns out to be less serious than it appears to be right now because falling on the turf on the way to a fight that was largely provoked by the Blue Jays is a pretty friggin’ stupid way for his—or perhaps even the team’s—season to end.
With the Baltimore Orioles arriving for a three-game series that could ultimately decide the playoff fate of either team, the timing of this brawl couldn’t be any worse. Look, I get it. It’s baseball and these things happen.
I think the way the Yankees handled everything on Monday night was bush league and they only have themselves to blame. I get Luis Severino was wild, but get it together on the mound and hit the strike zone, not batters. Chase Headley, don’t go for a stroll around the ballpark after a brush back pitch and not expect to wear one the next pitch. Get back in the box and play the game. And as for Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild and bench coach Rob Thomson, a Canadian no less, you’ve both been around the game a long, long time, what were you honestly expecting after home plate umpire Todd Tichenor warned both benches?
You could easily send some blame Josh Donaldson’s way for his reaction in the first inning, or towards Happ for hitting Headley in what could easily be viewed as a retaliation pitch, but for Severino to get right back out there and drill Smoak to really escalate things, that was unnecessary.
There’s a lot more that could be said about the brawl, and I’m sure Yankees fans will disagree with my thoughts, but I’ll leave it at that. In the grand scheme of things, however, I’m sure the Blue Jays wish they avoided the brawl, especially since Benoit suffered an injury while holding back C.C. Sabathia.
The losses are significant to the Jays, who open a pivotal, three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday in what could be a previous of the American League Wild Card game.
Benoit, who has allowed just one earned run since he was acquired, has been integral in stabilizing the Jays’ bullpen, which had been shaky throughout the first half.
Travis, meanwhile, leads the team in hits since the all-star break and has served admirably at the top of the batting order as the team’s lead-off hitter.
Gibbons said that in Benoit’s absence, Brett Cecil and Joe Biagini will be used in more high-leverage roles.
“When the starter’s good we’ll stretch him as much as we can,” Gibbons said. “We’ll just have to make some adjustments.”
Benoit contends that the bench-clearing ruckus against the New York Yankees on Monday night that cost the Blue Jays the services of himself and leadoff hitter Devon Travis is the result of a changing culture in baseball that he has come to abhor.
“Not many people are going to agree with me, but it’s about some things,” said the 39-year-old relief specialist. “To me, baseball was about pitching. Now it’s about home runs. It sells.”
Benoit complains there are “too many rules. Too many new rules. The game was fine the old way. The old way was fine.”
The “old way” he talks about includes pitching inside without the overreaction of clearing the benches he was part of on Monday night — and the overreaction he thinks envelopes the game.
“This is the game of baseball,” he said. “It’s men playing a kid’s game.”
He said that with disdain. But the meaning was clear.
It used to be men playing a kid’s game. Now it’s complaining men — some of them acting like selfish kids — playing a kid’s game. He’s been around long enough to see the difference. And he doesn’t care much for the difference.
“I believe baseball has taken things too far,” said Benoit. “Basically, media is helping, too. It’s a situation we need to address.
“I believe, as pitchers, we are entitled to use the whole plate if we want to, if that’s the way we’re going to succeed,” said Benoit. “I believe that right now baseball is taking things too far; that, in some situations, most hitters believe they cannot be brushed out. Some hitters take it personally. I believe baseball is taking things too far.”
Benoit estimated he will miss two to three weeks. The injury is similar to the one suffered by Brett Cecil in the second game of last year’s American League Division Series against Texas; you may recall it was thought Cecil’s season was done but as days passed, he became hopeful of a World Series return. When the Jays were eliminated by the Royals in the Championship Series, Cecil’s potential return was rendered moot. All of this to say, Benoit could be back sooner than his prognosis; he could also be finished for the season. It’s all about how he heals.
A calm and eloquent speaker, Benoit was clearly disappointed he had gotten hurt. Perhaps there was anger at the pointlessness of it all. Pitchers can’t throw inside? How did Monday night’s silliness begin? With his own team objecting to Luis Severino working the inner half of the plate to Josh Donaldson.
The problem is Severino had no command. He hit Donaldson in the first inning and later walked two hitters in the same frame. It’s difficult to imagine Severino had ill intent. The Blue Jays interpreted it differently; if not the team than certainly J.A. Happ and maybe Donaldson, too. Happ threw behind Chase Headley in the top of the second, clearing the benches. With the next pitch, Happ hit Headley and warnings were issued. In the bottom of the second, Severino threw behind Justin Smoak with his first pitch and hit Smoak with the second. Then the brawl, at which point Benoit got hurt.
But we had an inkling that the news wasn’t going to be good on that front, as the Jays announced earlier on Tuesday afternoon that they had called up Chris Smith, a right-handed reliever who spent most of the year at New Hampshire before moving up to Buffalo at the end. He doesn’t have a FanGraphs page that I’ve been able to find, for some reason, but trusty ol’ Baseball Reference tells us that he struck out 81 in 60.2 innings (while walking 22), Pat Malacaro of Buffalo’s WGR spoke to him about his story last month, and MLB.com’s Alykhan Ravjiani tweets that he’s told Smith sits in the mid-90s with movement. So… that’s something.
If the Jays really want to give their bullpen some juice, though, they could reuse the idea of sending Francisco Liriano to the ‘pen that they had a few weeks ago, back when Brett Cecil was still bad, only this time with Marcus Stroman.
I suppose you could make it Aaron Sanchez rather than Stroman here , but I think Sanchez is the clear choice to remain in the rotation, even if he hasn’t quite looked like First Half Aaron Sanchez in his most recent layoff- and blister-impaired starts. And some crazy folks will say it should still be Liriano, or even Estrada — the latter of which is almost certainly not happening, and the former of which doesn’t provide nearly the same kind of value out of the bullpen as Stroman does, I don’t think.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, of course, but honestly, a fourth starter isn’t called upon a whole lot in the playoffs. R.A. Dickey started just two of the Blue Jays’ eleven playoff games last season, and while starting a game is obviously huge, how much of a drop-off is there, at this point, over the course of a couple starts, from Stroman to Liriano? And how much better utilized could Stroman be coming out of the ‘pen?
As soon as I saw Joaquin Benoit limping into the dugout and using Pete Walker as a support, I knew something was wrong.
It turns out the Toronto Blue Jays’ dust-up with the New York Yankees may caused a couple of injuries to members of the Jays’ roster; one belonging to Devon Travis and the other being Joaquin Benoit.
As of this moment, the severity and cause of their injuries aren’t known, but one can only assume they were brought about by the Blue Jays’ on-field brawl with the Yankees.
While it sounds like Travis may be simply day-to-day, Benoit’s diagnosis sounds much worse. Shi Davidi reported late last night that Joaquin Benoit was seen leaving the clubhouse on crutches.
During the Blue Jays’ TV broadcast, Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler speculated that Joaquin Benoit may have gotten stepped on in the melee, which would explain why he was walking so gingerly into the dugout. But Benoit may have hurt himself before he even reached the scrum.
Another injury worry for the Blue Jays is relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit, who limped off the field while putting very little weight on his left leg and needed help from a teammate as he entered the dugout.
Losing Benoit for any stretch of time would be a significant hit to the Blue Jays bullpen, especially considering that Jason Grilli, who blew a save and took the loss on Monday night, would be next in line for late-inning, right-handed opportunities.
Benoit has allowed just one earned run in 25 outings since joining the Blue Jays in a trade for Drew Storen. If Benoit does miss time, expect Brett Cecil to also be given a bigger share of high-leverage innings.
Beyond the injuries, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi this morning that suspensions could also be coming down.
***UPDATE – 4:30 p.m. ET
Benoit has suffered a torn left calf muscle and does not have a timetable for a return.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, that flashback,” Travis said Tuesday afternoon in front of his locker. “It’s that scare factor. Tough process for me and to have any flashbacks (of the last injury) … just to know that something’s there again is a little concerning, but the fact that I feel better today than yesterday is encouraging, for sure.”
While he knows he tweaked it during the brouhaha, the 25-year-old, who leads the club with 79 hits and a .321 average since the all-star break, isn’t sure exactly what happened.
“I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t even know what happened,” Travis said. “I didn’t even have any acute pain when I first got out of the scrum — adrenaline was high. I walked up my next at-bat, took a swing and it was there, so it definitely happened in that scrum.”
Travis received treatment on the shoulder following the game, and was held out of baseball activities Tuesday, with Darwin Barney playing second base.
“There are six games left — hoping I can be out there tomorrow,” Travis said. “I actually feel better today than yesterday, yeah. I was pretty scared last night. It wasn’t a fun injury to go through and to have any flashbacks of it is not good. I can move my arm today though, so, definitely I feel better today.
“I believe that I’ll be OK. I feel better than yesterday and I can move my arm. We’ve got six games left and the post-season, hopefully, so I’ll be in there. Somehow, someway, I’ll be in there.”
Smith, 28, has never pitched in the big leagues, but he posted a 1.93 ERA over 60 2/3 innings, mostly in Double-A New Hampshire this season. He was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo at the end of August.
“We thought about bringing him up right away with the expanded roster,” Jays manager John Gibbons said Tuesday. But in the end the team felt it would be better if he continued to work out and pitch at the team’s minor-league facilities rather than sit on the bench in the majors.
Smith, who struck out 12 batters per nine innings in the minors this season, signed a minor-league deal with the Jays in August of 2015. The Kentucky native was never drafted, but worked his way into the affiliated minor leagues after stints in the independent Frontier League and the Australian League.
The 26-year-old Burns, who can play both the infield and outfield, made his big-league debut with the Jays earlier this season, getting into 10 games. He’s hitless in seven big-league plate appearances and hit just .230 with a .285 on-base percentage in Triple-A Buffalo, but he is viewed as a capable defender.
Given the number of relievers and bench players already at Gibbons’ disposal thanks to expanded September rosters — even without Benoit he has 10 bullpen arms, not including R.A. Dickey, plus nine extra position players — it’s unlikely either Smith or Burns will get much of an opportunity down the stretch. But they do provide some emergency insurance.
Joaquin Benoit is out with a ‘torn calf’, similar to Brett Cecil injury in last year’s playoffs. I’d imagine he’s gone for the season, but never know, Brett was looking to come back quickly last year. Devon Travis is ‘day-to-day’ with shoulder soreness. No word yet on who was moved to make room for Smith on the roster.
The Blue Jays are going to promote right-handed pitcher Chris Smith to the team. To add Smith, the Jays have to remove someone from the 40-man roster. I’m afraid it is likely to be Joaquin Benoit going on the 60-day DL. I could be wrong, but that’s my guess.
Smith spent most of the season in New Hampshire, and had a 1.89 ERA there, in 43 appearances. in 57 innings, he allowed 44 hits, 2 home runs, 21 walks with 76 strikeouts. He also had 3.2 innings in Buffalo at the end of the season, with 1 earned, 2 hits, 1 homer, 1 walks and 5 strikeouts.
The growing annoyance surrounding the Blue Jays’ ways was reiterated by the New York Yankees after Monday’s on-field drama at Rogers Centre had subsided.
Following comments by Yankees third baseman and beanball target Chase Headley about Saturday starter Marcus Stroman “frickin’ screaming” at players from the mound and “yelling at guys to get off that ’effin field” after strikeouts, the brash 25-year-old shrugged it off while wearing his best ‘who cares?’ face.
“We play with a lot of passion, we play with a lot of heart — we’re not boring,” Stroman said. “Boring people have problems with that. We’re not concerned with that.”
While he couldn’t deny hurling seven innings of scoreless baseball in Saturday’s win over the Yanks, Stroman shook his head when asked about hurling obscenities, as Headley claims.
“Not once did I say that,” Stroman said. “Never did I say, ‘Get the eff off the field.’ He can think that. Once again, it doesn’t affect me either way. I’m not concerned, I’m not going to change myself, I’m not going to change who I am. I could care less what he has to say about me or my team.”
That was the party line in the Blue Jays clubhouse: No one cares what the Yankees, a team that dropped three-of-four games in Toronto, think.
Said Chase Headley: “Listen, these guys (the Jays) are the king of fun, the bat flip, the whole ‘guys yelling at players’ … I mean (Marcus) Stroman was fricken’ screaming at our guys when he’s pitching (on Saturday), yelling at guys to get off that ‘effin field when you strike somebody out. So you got to take some of the medicine. They certainly have no shortage of emotion and if you’re going to play like that than you got to got to expect to get some of it back.
“They got a lot of guys over there that have a lot of bravado … if you want to call it that. They enjoy it when they hit home runs, they enjoy it when they get outs. It rubs guys the wrong way sometimes, so when you give up runs or you give up a big hit or whatever, guys sometimes are going to react that way,” added Headley, who was hit by Jays starter J.A. Happ in the second inning.
After Teixeira hit his home run off Toronto closer Jason Grilli in the ninth, he uncharacteristically flipped his bat and chirped at the pitcher — partly, he said, because it may be the last homer he ever hits and also because he was caught up in the emotion of a game that saw the Yankees come back to beat the Jays 7-5. “Those guys do it all the time,” said Teixeira of the Jays. “They have fun with it. That’s the first time I’ve ever done it, so I had fun with it too. Could be last home run I hit, so why not bat flip on it? “
When asked what he chirped at Grilli, Teixeira said: “I was like, ‘Ooh, sorry, the ball went a long way.”
“I was just letting him know he blew the save,” continued Teixeira who will retire after this season. “We were just having fun. There was a lot of emotion in the game. We’re entertainers, aren’t we? I’ve never liked bean ball wars, there’s really no reason for them. But it happens, luckily no one got hurt.”
As we know, Jose becomes a free agent at the end of the 2016 season. We know from interviews in spring training that Jose gave the Jays his contract demands and didn’t feel that further negotiation was necessary. The numbers that were reported, upwards of 5 years/$150M, seem a definite pipe dream after Jose’s 2016 season in which his production and defense have fallen while injuries have piled up.
The Blue Jays will certainly make a qualifying offer to Jose. I don’t think Jose will accept and don’t blame him at all for that. While on the surface, a one-year contract to rebuild some value might seem plausible. However, Jose is nearly 36 years old and as a result it is anything but a safe bet to me that he’d rebound next year. If I’m Jose, I’m taking the maximum years and dollars offered to me in the off-season as this will almost certainly be his last contract. Now the question is will Toronto be the team that will make him that offer. I hate to say it but there seem to be too many variables in play including a position change and EE’s status to result in Jose being back next year. I hope I’m wrong as I’d hate to see our hero leave Metropolis.
It’s Jose Bautista’s job to get on base. That’s not different from any other position player on any other MLB team. If we didn’t know Jose, though, we would assume it was only a job, a way to get paid. What the past tells us about him informs our present perceptions. If that wasn’t true, the next story this week wouldn’t even be worth noting.
The Blue Jays, on September 23rd, were already leading the Yankees 3-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning. Their win probability was 96%, and Blake Parker was in the game, performing as though he only wanted to improve those chances. Having worked himself into a second and third, one-out jam, Joe Girardi showed a lot of respect for Edwin Encarnacion by intentionally wlking him to get to Bautista with the bases loaded. Of course, respect to EE is also disrespect to Joey Bats. As we’ve found out through several examples, starting with the post-over-the head staredown of Ivan Nova, and extending through the time when Darren O’Day threw behind his head, or when a young Jamie Garcia put one behind his back, an angry Jose Bautista is the most dangerous Jose Bautista you can find (not unlike a certain comic book superhero.)
With the intentional walk stuck in his craw, and having grounded into a double play earlier when given a similar opportunity, Jose was looking to do damage. Three pitches later, Jose found an 81mph splitter he could handle and ripped the ball into the left field corner for a double. In context, it was worth only 2.7 percent of a win, but it sent a message about whether you want to put the man in front of him on base. He kept his swing under control, and his hands close to his body, carefully containing his swing and his “rage” to maximum effect.
On Saturday, September 24th, Jose faced off against Tyler Clippard in the bottom of the 8th. With two men on, the score was 0-0, as the neither team had been able to break through all day. This would be his last plate appearance before the game went into extra innings, if the Jays were once again held scoreless. There were two outs, so no awards for a medium depth fly ball or a ground ball to the right side. If there was going to be a time to make waves, this was it. Of course, after two pitches missed the zone, Bautista likely knew what he was hunting for…. a pitch he could drive. And drive it he did, once again, into the right field seats.
Unlike the other two, this deal has paid massive dividends for the Blue Jays since his acquisition. In 43 innings pitched, seven starts and two relief appearances, Liriano has maintained a 3.35 ERA with a 130 ERA+. That’s a massive turnout from his days in a Pirates uniform where his ERA was a gaudy 5.46 with a 75 ERA+. While Liriano isn’t quite striking out as many as he did in his Bucs days, his walks have decreased nearly two batters per nine innings, which has forced hitters to swing at his deadly offerings.
While Liriano has been good as a starter in Toronto, he’s also presented a form of versatility in the Jays’ pen, relieving in two different games. Sure, he was no Mariano Rivera, but the fact that he could do it is still somewhat comforting.
With how effective he’s been as of late, it presents a difficult question once–or if–the playoffs roll around. If the Jays are able to get there and make it past the wild card game, it will be interesting to see where Liriano is slotted in. With Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, J. A Happ and Marcus Stroman completing a formidable 4-man rotation, it may be back to the bullpen for the new southpaw. That’s probably just fine.
When the Blue Jays acquired Montero they might have been taking a shot in the dark, but they soon found out why he was a former top prospect. Montero was a main cog in the the Herd’s attack this season. Mainly serving as the teams DH he took the opportunity to mash, batting .317 over 126 games with the club. He was a leader in most of the teams offensive categories and was a consistent threat every at bat. Montero collected 24 doubles and 11 home runs with his 155 hits for the year (ranking him second in the International League). He scored 46 runs and drove in 60. The standout triple slash numbers lead some people to wonder where he will be come next season. He slashed a .317/ .349/ .438 for the year.
Angel Perdomo led the Lansing Lugnuts in innings pitched, starts and strikeouts, spending his Age-22 season finally arriving in full-season baseball. The 6-foot-6 Dominican lefty still has some command issues but he showed the ability to both overpower Midwest League hitters and stay on the mound all season. Perdomo had a 3.19 ERA and an even better 2.89 FIP to go with his 1.22 WHIP. His 29.1% strikeout was outstanding and Perdomo led the Midwest League with his 156 Ks but his 10.1% walk rate could stand some improvement. All in all, it was an excellent season for Perdomo who kept moving forward with a positive season at a new level in 2016. Look for him to start in Dunedin in 2017.