Ever since the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Joe Smith, it seems as though we have been attracted to a lot of Smith’s lately. One has been placed on the DL, 2 have been sent back to AAA.
When the Toronto Blue Jays acquired RHP Joe Smith via free agency, I knew he would be great for the team. I listed him as my favourite off-season acquisition, and he has proved me right thus far into the season. In 34 games (31.2 IP), Joe Smith has an ERA of 3.41 and a BB/9 ratio of 2.3. Joe Smith has been one of the Blue Jays most reliable bullpen arms. However, just last week Joe Smith was placed on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Hopefully he will be back in full force around the beginning of July.
Dwight Smith Jr.
After Kevin Pillar was given a 2 day suspension, the Blue Jays called up one of their well-known farm system prospects to join the MLB club. Dwight Smith Jr. is an outfielder that had been playing for the Blue Jays AAA affiliate Buffalo Bisons. In just 12 games played with the Blue Jays, he managed to get 10 hits and 2 doubles. He also had a hit streak of over 5 throughout the 12 games. He has since been optioned back to AAA, since the Blue Jays activated Ezequiel Carrera off of the DL. Although, it is quite odd as this means the Jays have decided to keep Ian Parmley on the roster, who has not shown the hitting that Smith has shown.
Do you remember a few months ago when I interviewed a Blue Jays prospect? That was Blue Jays pitcher Chris Smith! Smith has played in a couple of Jays games over the past few days, and looked good in his appearances. He has since been optioned to AAA, in order to make room on the roster for Blue Jays Rule 5 draft pick Glenn Sparkman who has since been on the 60-day DL due to a broken thumb. We have yet to see him play for the Jays this season, but I am looking forward to it.
Other Notable Blue Jays news:
- Jason Grilli DFA’d (😢)
UPDATES! : Long time no talk! It is officially the first day of summer AND my official first day of summer as I have completed yet another year of school (and round of exams), so now I have two straight months to talk baseball! My plan for this summer is to post daily on this blog, as well as post a few game recaps/series previews! Now let’s get to today’s blog post…
Josh Donaldson made some (VERY) interesting comments last night about the 3/4 hitters on the current Toronto Blue Jays team (which you can read below). Tim and Sid had a very good segment in their show featuring his comments and their own opinions on it (which I agree with all of them on), and you can watch it here. To summarize, Sid thought it was fantastic that a player as well respected and successful as Donaldson finally came out and said what we have been talking about for the past few months (along with the past two seasons). While John Gibbons has said previously, “We are a home run hitting team…”, it doesn’t sound like Donaldson wants to be part of one. He wants to be a part of a well-rounded team, who can hit for singles-triples and power.
The comments that are being discussed by Blue Jays fans and Toronto media are as follows. This is from Steve Buffery‘s piece:
“I would say for the most part, our 3 and 4 guys, they’re not getting on base enough,” said Donaldson. “Bautista’s known to be around .380 to .400 on-base and I don’t think he’s anywhere near that right now (.337),” said Donaldson. “I’m not sure Kendrys Morales’ on base is (.307), but I can’t imagine that he’s a very high on-base guy (career .331). So the fact of it is, if those guys weren’t getting on base, then he (Smoak) is going to hit solo home runs. With that being said, I think the tougher question is, where would he need to hit in order to have guys on base? I think that’s what we need to (consider).”
Honestly, Donaldson could not be more correct. And while his comments are not exactly the “root” of the issues, there is something to be said about Bautista and Morales’ current season numbers, compared to their career numbers.
This past month (especially the past few losses), have reminded me of the September 2016 Blue Jays. This team is basically compiled of those exact same players, and they are playing like there old September 2016 self. The Blue Jays got very lucky that over the last few games of the season they pulled it together to start another epic playoff run, but it didn’t result in the ultimate goal. Thus resulting in John Gibbons to keep the lineup exactly how it had played throughout the majority of the 2016 season.
This season however, has been very different. As you are aware, the Jays got off to a horrific 2-11 start, but May was a wonderful month for the Jays who climbed back through all of the injuries and somehow made there way to almost .500.
And here we are on June 21, at the exact same spot. While April was horrific, June has been different, as the Blue Jays have had EIGHT different occasions to claim .500, but have failed to come through in every single opportunity. Whether it has been poor pitching starts, or the offence not showing up, John Gibbons (and the majority of the media) have made an excuse as to why they have yet to reach the .500 mark each time they fail to do so. The fans now are starting to see this, and are getting very antsy and annoyed with how a team so good, can be playing this badly. What few forget to realize, is that the Jays are currently only one game behind for a second wild card spot (but a stat like that should not be taken seriously in June).
So the question comes to this… what can the Jays do to finally claim the .500 mark, and hopefully start playing above it?
I think it starts off with lineup changes, as the offence in general has been the major root of the problem from the very beginning of April.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, Steve Pearce has come back from the DL and has not disappointed. He has been exceptional against LHP, and I would love to see Gibbons take a shot at putting Pearce in the leadoff role. He is able to get on base in very clutch situations, so it would be interesting to see how he would do with no pressure on him to start off the game.
Josh Donaldson is the best overall player on the current Blue Jays team. Therefore, I would leave him at the second spot in the lineup.
While Justin Smoak has locked up his spot fifth in the batting order, I believe he would be a fantastic fit for the third spot in the lineup. Hopefully when he bats, there will be no out and two on (or with the Blue Jays leading either 1-0 or 2-0), resulting in him driving in the runner on second or third.
José Bautista and Kendrys Morales have both been key contributors over the past three months, but both of them are having a really hard time playing small ball and getting on base. Bautista and Morales would be a great 4/5 hitter combo, and I can see them being more successful a bit lower in the lineup.
Russel Martin is normally around the sixth spot in the lineup, and I would leave him in the spot. He is having a mediocre year, and has seemed to be getting a bit better as the year has been going on.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am not the biggest fan of SS Troy Tulowitzki. Although people claim he is a “future Hall of Fame” star, I cannot see how that could happen with the way he has been playing for the Blue Jays. Tulo has never hit to his expectations since being traded to the Jays in 2015, and in 2017, he has not looked good. However, Tulowitzki is a veteran hitter who has been around the game for a long time. I would place him in the seventh spot.
The Blue Jays current leadoff hitter, Kevin Pillar, has looked absolutely terrible ever since his adjustment phase ended in April. After the incident to end off May, Pillar has been batting .159, taking his batting average down to .246… a whopping 54 points since the middle of May! However, Pillar is a great defensive player and the Jays can ill afford him to take a game off (although that may be good for him in the coming weeks if he hasn’t gone back to his adjusted outlook). I would place him eighth in the lineup.
Lastly, I would fill the ninth spot with the second base replacement for Devon Trais. Whether that may be Ryan Goins or Darwin Barney, with the occasional Chris Coghlan appearance.
As always, I would love to hear your opinions on this blog post, as well as what changes you would make to the team (if any!).
The Toronto Blue Jays have called up Anthony Alford (!!!!) from AA to make his Blue Jays debut tonight against the Baltimore Orioles. He will be starting in left field, batting eighth.
Alford was ranked 34th on Baseball America’s most recent prospect list, along with other Jays prospect stars including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
Other MLB organizations would not normally bring a prospect from AA to MLB, but we can argue that Alford is much different than other prospects. He has a .325/.411/.455 batting line with three home runs and nine stolen bases in 33 games. Alford is arguably one of the best prospects the Blue Jays have ever had in the history of their organization. He is such an impressive player and people around MLB will be talking about him today.
The Blue Jays also promoted Dwight Smith Jr., due to the Kevin Pillar 2 day suspension. Smith Jr. was decent yesterday, and debuted in Atlanta with his family and friends watching him.
The Jays have made quite the statement these past two days by bringing up two big name prospects. It shows the direction the Toronto Blue Jays want to be heading to in the future. They are not going to sign big name superstars, but rather develop and make their own. Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins said during this past offseason that they want to make the team faster and younger, and while it didn’t seem like they were doing that in the offseason, they seem to be on the track they want to be on. With all of the injuries that have struck the Jays team, this can give a chance for prospects to make their debuts and see exactly what the big leagues are all about. The front office seems to know what they are doing, and we have to trust them with the future of the Blue Jays organization. Trust me, they know what they are doing.
I for one am very excited to see Anthony Alford’s MLB debut, and hope he will become a face of the Toronto Blue Jays organization in the future!
Kevin Pillar has been the Toronto Blue Jays lead-off hitter for the past six games. He now has a seventh game hitting streak, and looks better than he has ever been before at the plate. Along with Justin Smoak and Darwin Barney, he has been one of the best hitters on the 2017 Blue Jays team. But from striking out in almost every at bat last year, how did he come to where he is today?
The 2015/2016 Jays sluggers have had freezing bats in the past thirteen regular season games. Bautista, Martin, Pearce and Travis have a combined batting average of .125, while Pillar, Smoak and Barney are averaging .328 combined. Who would have guessed that?
In thirteen games, Pillar has a .345 batting average, one of the highest among blue jays starters. He has adjusted his stance and mind at the plate, helping him get to his high average. In Spring Training, Pillar was one of the hottest hitters, while Bautista, Travis, and Donaldson were all absent (due to the World Baseball Classic and injuries). He has taken all of the things he practiced in spring training, and has successfully applied them into his major league at bats.
Buck Martinez, Pat Tabler and Dan Shulman (Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play announcers/colour commentators), have praised Pillar of his new offensive approach. Pillar has started to resist the urge to hit un-hittable pitches, while hitting the ones that he should be able to touch. And while Kevin Pillar has still struck out a few times this season, he has not been striking out at the same rate he was throughout last season. He has been able to force the pitcher to throw deep into the count, while waiting for the certain pitches that he know he can hit. Remember, the Jays are not paying him to hit home runs, they are paying him to get on base for the other hitters who can hopefully bring him back around home (although, that has been the Jays main trouble early in the season).
Kevin Pillar has stated before that he wants to be known as an all-around player, not just known for superman like catches. If he can continue to play the way he has been for the past 13 games, fans will definitely start to think of him as the Superman who is saving the team (and Canada)!