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Jays Bounce Back from BoSox Embarrassment vs. O’s

Posted By Ben Fisher On Jun 16 2011 @ 10:16 pm In Toronto Blue Jays | No Comments

What Happened

It was a ‘little bit of everything’ kind of series for the Blue Jays (34-35) as they won two of three against Baltimore. They claimed a walk-off win on Tuesday thanks to some late game heroics from Adam Lind, rode an near-unhittable Ricky Romero performance to victory on Wednesday and then saw their bullpen crumble late on Thursday despite a solid debut effort from Zach Stewart.

A Closer Look

Let the Finger-Pointing Begin!: Here’s what we know – for as much as there are good things happening around the organization this season (Jose Bautista’s continued ascension, Lind’s rise, the gradual establishment of a balanced batting order), there are also some headaches. Kyle Drabek has taken a few steps back, Brandon Morrow is still looking for his 2010 self and the bullpen is pretty much a disaster. Well, it might be frustrating to hear if you’re a Jays fan, but the reality is that there isn’t much blame to be attributed – this is a young, developing team that will have its growing pains. If that seems too simplistic, let’s give it a closer look: the woes of Drabek and Morrow in the rotation (not to mention inconsistency from Jo-Jo Reyes and the odd Romero blow-up) have led to an overworked ‘pen that is made up of players (Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel) unlikely to be viable long-term options, anyway. They also happen to be pitch-to contact hurlers, something that doesn’t jive with a defensive front that is weaker this season at first base (Lind vs. Lyle Overbay), catcher (JP Arencibia vs. John Buck) and in centerfield (Rajai Davis vs. Vernon Wells), not to mention still terrible at third base (Edwin Encarnacion). Let’s applaud Alex Anthopoulos for righting the ship, but he’d be the first to tell you that there’s still much work to do.

Stewart In, Drabek Out: It wasn’t the 5.70 ERA or even the 15.30 ERA over his past three starts that told me Drabek needed to take a step back in his development. It was the constant, violent displays of anger and frustration that showed John Farrell and co. that they were doing him no favours by trotting him out to the mound every fifth day. Drabek could be in for an extended stint at AAA Las Vegas, but will still be pitching in meaningful games (the 51’s are in the playoff mix in the Pacific Coast League) and will be closely monitored by those with the big club. As for Stewart, the 24-year old wasn’t without nerves in Thursday’s debut (he recorded a walk, hit batter and a balk, was bailed out by three double plays and had to be settled down by Jose Molina on two occasions), but more performances like that (two earned runs over seven innings) could keep him in Toronto for a while.

Anthopoulos Misses with ‘Pen Pick-ups: $10.7 million. That’s roughly how much the organization is spending this season on the veteran relief trio of Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel, a trio that currently owns a collective 4.91 ERA (35 ER, 64.1 IP) and have combined for five blown saves in 19 chances. To be fair, the GM also signed Carlos Villanueva, a steady bullpen contributor who has now made a seamless transition into the rotation, to a one-year pact for $1.415 million that looks pretty good right now.

The Other Guys: Is it just me, or are the Orioles pretty much one player away? At the very least, there’s sure a lot to like about that team. Their pitching (Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and others) is young and enjoying some success at the big league level, while their line-up quietly has the makings of a potent, balanced attack. The O’s have a solid outfield (Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Luke Scott), a decent infield (Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts, if he can ever return to health), a possible star backstop in Matt Wieters and a pair of blue chip prospects in SS Manny Machado and LHP Dylan Bundy. Is it crazy to think that a guy like Prince Fielder could put them over the top?

Up Next

Avert your eyes, Jays fans – Interleague baseball is back as Toronto visits Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds. Reyes and pitching staff-leading eight career hits will toe the rubber in the opener against Cincy right-hander Mike Leake.

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