Jays From the Couch brings you the latest Toronto Blue Jays news & links. This edition looks at the recent struggles of the bullpen.
It would appear that the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen has been the topic de jour. It is no secret that the relievers have been a disappointment of late, costing the club wins. Let’s take a look at what’s being said:
*According to CBSSports.com, the Blue Jays could see some bullpen relief (see what I did, there?) by mid-May in the form of Aaron Loup. When he first hit the DL in Spring Training, we thought he’d just be out for a short while. Now, with about 6 weeks of the season complete, he will hopefully add a lefty arm to complement Brett Cecil. Loup may not provide a breath of fresh air, but, at this point, can adding him hurt?
*Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun tells us that the Blue Jays will be sticking by Drew Storen. At least, manager, John Gibbons will be: “I plan on just throwing him out there. We’ve got to, because we’re not going to be very good if he’s not a key guy.” But, is that right. They club will need Storen to improve on the 10.13 ERA, 6.55 FIP, 3.38 HR/9. These numbers are obviously ugly. But, it’s been a total of 8 innings. I know it feels like more, but this is a small sample, if ever there was one. The problem is that that small sample had cost the team.
*At Sportsnet, Ben Nicholson-Smith outlines the balancing act in which the Blue Jays are engaged in an attempt to get the most out of Russell Martin. The 33 year old is battling some neck issues, which is impacting his ability to hit. One need only watch Martin at the plate to know he’s off. But, Gibby is willing to stick with him and take whatever offensive dip he comes with. Let’s be honest, though. Is a struggling Russell Martin worse than Josh Thole? That is debatable, I suppose since Martin is striking out at an ungodly rate. However, the defensive side of the catcher’s job is what the club is after right now.
*Also at Sportsnet.ca, Nick Ashbourne looks at the changes in J.A. Happ since he first left Toronto. As everyone in Toronto is aware, Happ has been like a different pitcher in his second tour of duty. Ashbourne points out that working with Pittsburgh Pirates coach, Ray Searage certainly helped Happ take his game to the next level. For his part, Happ says that he probably could have figured out everything Searage helped him with on his own, but is thankful for the tutelage. Funny that Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker is not mentioned as someone who could have figured it out. Perhaps, what Walker can be given credit for is the overall approach form the rotation. As Ashbourne points out, as a group, they’re all trying to be more aggressive, throw more strikes and use the defense to get outs.
*The Texas Rangers are coming back to Toronto for the first time since the ALDS; the day they lost to The Bat Flip. Thanks to errors by Elvis Andrus, the Blue Jays pulled out one of the more dramatic victories in playoff history. Evan Grant of SportsDay (Dallas News) brings us a great read about that now iconic game from the perspective of the Texas Rangers. Specifically, Grant shares the heartbreak that Andrus went through after being the one who gave the game away. One can imagine what it would feel like to be in his shoes that night.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
*Over at Pirates Breakdown, Jason Rollison looks at how Jon Niese has been a reliable arm in the Pirates rotation. Jason’s look includes the tendencies that Niese has in different situations, which is very interesting. He seems to rely more on his 4 seam fastball than we thought he would. Where he can become even more effective is when he gets behind in the count.
*It would appear that the Blue Jays are not the only successful team from 2015 to run into a slow start to this season. The Houston Astros are 7-17 at the time of writing and in dead last in the AL West. But, Brad Kyle at The Runner Sports thinks that there is still time for the ‘Stros. This offseason, they were picked by many to repeat, and even build on, their playoff appearance. Kyle thinks that they can still do that by enjoying a 10 game home stand against the likes of the Indians, the Twins and the Mariners. Of course, their rotation (that was oh, so good last year) is going to have to turn things around.
*At Chin Music Baseball, Matt Musico argues that Stephen Strasburg is setting himself up for a pretty big free agency period. In particular, Musico feels that the presence of manager, Dusty Baker, and pitching coach, Mike Maddux, are benefiting Strasburg nicely. Musico also points out that the usage of the slider had been a boon for the 27 yr old. He’s using the pitch just under 14% more often.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.