Unfortunately for the Blue Jays (48-47), Major League Baseball doesn’t permit teams to carry runs over from one game to another. If that was the case, Toronto could have counted part of their 13-run outburst on Tuesday towards Monday’s 5-4 late loss or Wednesday’s 5-2 defeat.
The argument for a six-man rotation
They’ve looked good of late, but there is a question as to whether the Jays’ rotation can maintain momentum through to the end of the season. After all, every pitcher currently in the starting mix lacks in either big league starting experience, long-term health or both. It could, therefore, be to the benefit of all six current starters to keep trotting them out on every sixth day. After all, all of Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Jesse Litsch and Marc Rcepczynski have proven themselves capable major leaguers and it’s not as if the team is in much of a pennant race. Plus, carrying 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster is less of a concern for a team like the Jays considering Cito Gaston makes little use of his positional bench players.
The hits keep on coming
During the season’s first half, I wasn’t shy to point out how the Jays’ home run numbers did not mesh with an over-all offence that was short on hits and struggled with getting on base. Early in the second half, the low hit totals seem a thing of the past, as the team has collected 73 hits through six games with double digit hit totals in all but one. The home run totals (seven since the break) haven’t trailed off, but hitters are getting on base and in scoring position. It helps to have Adam Lind and Aaron Hill coming around, while Yunel Escobar has more than made up for the loss of Alex Gonzalez’s bat.
Closer to the edge
In his first appearance since Saturday’s ninth inning outburst, Kevin Gregg didn’t exactly make amends for his hot-headed behaviour. Looking to close out a 4-3 victory on Monday, the team closer promptly allowed a lead-off triple en route to two earned runs, three hits and his fourth blown save of the year. Perhaps more disconcerting was an unwillingness to acknowledge his recent struggles, instead tipping his hat to a Royals club that, he believed “hit some good pitches”. Whether or not Gregg gets dealt leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, it sure seems like time for a change in the ninth inning role. Maybe give Shawn Camp or Casey Janssen a shot?
The Bautista question
Is Jose Bautista a part of the Blue Jays’ long-term plans? This will be a key question for Jays brass to answer leading into – and, perhaps, following – the trade deadline. To do so, the team will need to determine whether this year’s league-leading 26-homer barrage is a mirage or a sign that Bautista has turned a corner and found his power stroke. It’s easy to be cynical about a player who is opening eyes for the first time at age 29 and was all but cut from the woeful Pirates in 2008 while he was supposed to be entering his prime. But the Jays have few viable future options moving forward at the hot corner, a position which Bautista plays. Also, Alex Anthopoulos will have plenty to answer for if he trades away a player just beginning to realize his potential. Expect AA to test the waters, but I don’t see him making a move unless he is bowled over by an offer.
Toronto will head to Detroit for a four-game set at Comerica Park, looking to avoid being the Tigers’ rebound team as they attempt to emerge from a slump that has seen them drop seven in a row. Friday’s 1:00 pm start will see an ace vs. Ace battle, as Romero take to the hill against Justin Verlander.
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Written by Ben Fisher