The offence was alright. The pitching was inconsistent. The defence was bad.
1-1 | 4.0 IP | 6 (5) | 3 H | 2 BB | 3 K |
67 PC, B: 21, S: 46 | 3.41 ERA
Joe Biagini’s line reads 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB. Pretty awful, right? Not exactly. Maybe I’m being too easy on him, but I thought it was an outing that showed some good signs at times. Biagini worked his way into a mess in the 1st. Ender Inciarte led off with a single. Brandon Phillips then hit what should have been a double play ball to Biagini, but the pitcher committed a throwing error, and there were two aboard. Biagini followed that by walking both Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp. Nick Markakis started to pile things on when he hit a two-run single (Ezequiel Carrera had a bad read on it, but you knew that already). The inning was capped off by a three-run blast courtesy of Kurt Suzuki. It took Biagini 36 pitches to give up those six runs.
Then everything changed for Biagini. Once he got that first out, he started to roll. In fact, he retired the last 12 batters that he faced, with only three balls hit beyond the infield. It seemed as though the botched double play in the 1st really affected Biagini for the rest of the inning, and led to all of that trouble. The good news is that he was able to bounce back.
It took Biagini only 31 pitches to work through the 2nd-4th. Yet, John Gibbons decided to pull him after the 4th. The reason seemed to be that Biagini was due up to bat in the 5th. Darrell Ceciliani hit in his place. That was Ceciliani’s first at bat of the season. Probably not the best time to make that switch. At that point, the Jays were already in a sizeable hole, and the bullpen needed a rest. Furthermore, the Jays would like to have Biagini fully stretched out sooner than later. The goal was to get him to ~85 pitches tonight, which would allow him to be fully stretched out next week. I didn’t buy Gibbons’ decision at the time, and it has only become more puzzling since. Biagini will likely be limited to 85 pitches again next week, because Ceciliani needed an at bat.
The bats are still trying to do their best with this makeshift lineup. There was nothing particularly noteworthy tonight. Justin Smoak hit another homer. Jose Bautista also added a solo shot. Afterwards, he exchanged some words with Kurt Suzuki (who also had words with Kevin Pillar in the 7th), presumably due to an exaggerated bat flip. After a few seconds, the pair seemed to sort out their issues. The benches still cleared though. That was interesting.
On the less-than-good side, there was Carrera. The Jays found themselves down 6-3 in the 5th. They had runners on 1st and 2nd, with two outs, and Smoak at the plate. Smoak hit a soft tapper to 3rd. Although he’s a slow runner, it still looked like Smoak had a chance to beat it out. Then Carrera happened. The man with the baseball IQ of a walnut decided it was time to throw a tackle. That brought an end to the inning. Combine that lack of awareness with Carrera’s poor fielding, and his tendency to get exposed with regular at bats, and I’m not sure how much longer he deserves to be playing every day. The trouble is that, with Steve Pearce on the DL, the Jays don’t really have an alternative. We know that Ceciliani won’t cut it. Maybe Dwight Smith Jr. and his .290/.348/.419 slash line deserves a shot. I can’t wait for Anthony Alford to be ready. It should also be noted that Gibbons took Carrera out of the game following that play.
|A. Loup (1-0)||0.1||0||0||1||0||0||7 (2-5)||2.20|
|D. Leone (1-0)||1.1||2||1||1||1||2||30 (12-18)||4.66|
|J. Howell (1-1)||1.1||0||0||1||2||0||24 (14-10)||9.64|
|D. Barnes (0-1)||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||10 (2-8)||1.80|
The bullpen wasn’t great. They had to cover four innings and only surrendered two runs, but it wasn’t especially convincing. The relievers started to work in the 5th. Aaron Loup got a groundout, before giving up a ground rule double, and later hitting Freddie Freeman with a pitch. That was it for Loup. Dominic Leone came in, and finished the inning. Leone was back for the 6th. After a ball bounced off the 3rd base bag, and Luke Maile committed a throwing error, Emilio Bonifacio hit a sac fly. Leone looked alright tonight. He just had some bad luck with the defence.
JP Howell was brought in to finish the 6th. He nearly hit Inciarte with his first pitch. Inciarte then got the better of him, as he hit an RBI single and advanced to 2nd on a Bautista error. The Jays had three errors on the night. Howell then walked Phillips before he eventually worked his way out of the inning. Howell allowed another walk in the 7th, but also picked up three groundouts.
So what should the Jays do with Howell? I think they should just keep doing what they did tonight. Howell has not been good so far. In fact, he has been quite bad. At the same time, he has a fairly lengthy track record of being decent, if not better. Howell only has 4.2 innings under his belt with the Jays. They haven’t been good innings, sure, but it’s still a small sample. The Jays used to have this type of problem with Brett Cecil. The answer is to put Howell in low leverage situations, and give him a chance to show that he deserves more. The Jays need all the arms that they can find right now, so there’s no sense in DFA’ing Howell. Instead, they should show some patience with him, and give him at least another month to see if he can turn things around in situations that won’t hurt the team.
One pitcher that the Jays really don’t have to worry about is Danny Barnes. He came in for the 8th, and made quick work of the Braves. Dansby Swanson struck out, Danny Santana lined out, and Inciarte popped out. I expect that Barnes will stick around with the Jays for the rest of the season.
Marcus Stroman faces Julio Teheran tomorrow.