It was a most eventfully uneventful four-game set at Rogers Centre between the Tigers and Blue Jays (68-62), as plenty was learned but little was decided in a 2-2 series split. A pair of blowout losses bookended a series that also saw two close weekend wins and a curious announcement on the 2010 fate of Brandon Morrow.
One more start. That’s all Morrow has left in his up-and-down 2010 campaign after the team announced that he’d be shut down following his next outing as he nears the 150-inning limit which was set for him prior to the season. While I am undoubtedly in favour of closely monitoring the innings total of the 26-year old reliever-turned-starter, I question the wisdom of shutting Morrow down outright rather than gradually easing him into the off-season. At some point, he will need to build up the arm strength necessary to throw 200+ innings if he is to be a key part of the rotation going forward, and now would be a good time to continue that push. The team will likely absorb the loss of Morrow via spot starts from call-ups from the minors and, possibly, Brian Tallet. It also means that Marc Rzepczynski will be afforded a few more chances to turn his season around after a string of recent poor performances.
Shaky weekend for Gregg
Such is the life of a relief pitcher: if you do your job well, no one notices; if you do your job poorly, everybody’s on you. That’s why few had taken note as Kevin Gregg entered the Tigers series while enjoying a solid July/August stretch of 17.0 innings in which he had collected 11 saves while allowing just three earned runs over that span. However, fans certainly did notice as he blew his fifth save of the season on Friday (the Jays would come back to win 3-2 on Aaron Hill’s game-winning RBI single in the 11th) and then escalated some heart rates by allowing the tying run into scoring position in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 5-4 nail-biter. While fans, understandably, like sure things from their stoppers rather than roller coaster outings, Gregg has served well in the role this season (30 saves, 3.35 ERA).
Aces headed in different directions
The Detroit series offered another example of the stark contrast in the late season progression of the Jays’ co-aces, Ricky Romero and Shaun Marcum. In Thursday’s opener, Romero continued a downward trend that has seen him allow 12 earned runs over 18.2 innings during three of his past four starts. An Edwin Encarnacion error to prolong the Tigers’ six-run fourth inning didn’t help in Romero’s most recent outing, but the left-hander also hurt himself by allowing five free passes and two home runs. On the flip side, you have Marcum, who seems to be getting stronger late in the year. He shook off two early August beatings at the hands of the Yankees and Red Sox and has since compiled a 1.64 ERA in three starts, including a one-hitter against Oakland in what was the first complete game of his career. Most recently, Marcum scattered one run on eight hits over six innings to lower his season ERA to 3.61, nearing Romero’s 3.54 mark.
September 1 looming
It’s just about call-up time in the majors, as the rosters are set to expand on September 1, opening the door for young reinforcements to get an early taste of the big leagues. This date hasn’t had a great deal of significance for the Jays in recent years, as the team hasn’t found themselves in a play-off race or with big league-ready prospects to ease into major league duty. While there is still no postseason race on the horizon for Toronto, there are prospects in the farm system ready to get a serious look. It’s just that Cito Gaston and Alex Anthopoulos won’t say who they have in mind to call up. David Purcey and J.P. Arencibia are all-but-certain to be wearing Jays uniforms in September. The popular name being floated around, of course is Kyle Drabek, but the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year is best suited seeing his stellar season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats through to the postseason, where the team is among the league favourites. Doug Drabek’s son has, after all, spent his share of time in big league locker rooms and would benefit from being part of some critical games down the stretch.
More AL East fun and games will see the Jays head to Tampa for a three-game set, followed by a trip to New York after an off-day. Division rival killer Brett Cecil gets the ball against the Rays’ Wade Davis tonight.
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Written by Ben Fisher