Jays From the Couch continues a weekly look out how the Blue Jays performed in the clutch over the last 7 days.
Blue Jays fans were treated to a fantastic week of baseball Of the six games played, only two had a higher run differential than 2, and only one higher than 4. With so many close games there was no shortage of high leverage situations. Batters and pitchers alike had the opportunity to step up and propel the Blue Jays to certain victory. So here is how it all shook out.
Runners In Scoring Position
Over the past two weeks, it has been abundantly clear that the Jays have not been performing well enough in situations with runners in scoring position, going a combined 18 for 88 (0.205 BA). This week, the lack of performance in these spots continued early on as the Jays started the week 0 for 16. Their brutal performance with men on second or further even made its way into broadcasts. With numbers these bad, everyone was starting to take notice. Not only was the Jays offense severely under performing, but when given the opportunity to do so, they could not cash in on the opportunities provided.
The week would turn around as a whole mighty quickly however, starting with a much better 3 for 8 on Wednesday. The offense would continue to click, and as a result the RISP numbers continued to look much better. The Jays would finish the week at a batting average of 0.245 (13 for 53), which while still not great, is a fantastic improvement on weeks prior. Take into further consideration that the Jays went 13 for 37 from Wednesday through Saturday (0.351 BA) and the team is looking much better in the clutch.
Top 3 High Leverage Scenarios For Hitters
This week all top three high leverage scenarios by LI occurred not only in one game but over the span of two innings against one pitcher. One of the league’s most dangerous closers, Craig Kimbrel.
The third highest LI of the week came up in the eighth inning of the Jays game against the Red Sox on Saturday. Kevin Pillar came to the plate with Devon Travis on third and only one out. With an excellent opportunity to tie the game, and a leverage index of 4.10, Kevin Pillar went down swinging. In this situation, Kevin Pillar and the Jays come up with a loss.
Fast forward to the ninth inning with Kimbrel still on the the mound, but this time Russell Martin on third, and the game now tied 9-9. Devon Travis was at the dish, primed to end the game before extras. An infield single would accomplish just that, as Travis walked off the Red Sox for an invigorating Jays victory. Chalk this one up as a high leverage win for Devon Travis, and the hometown heroes.
The winning run wouldn’t even prove to be the highest leverage situation of the week however. Jump back one batter, with Russell Martin at bat, and Ezequiel Carrera at 3rd. The Jays down to their last out, and still down by one (9-8) resulted in a jacked up leverage index of a massive 5.90. The Canadian would not disappoint, sending a liner to left scoring Carrera and tying the game. The Jays batters would finish in the black when it came to the top three LI scenarios of the week (2 wins and 1 loss). With all three being in the same game, being on the positive side also earned the Jays a notch in the real win column against the Red Sox.
Top 3 High Leverage Scenarios For Pitchers
As mentioned earlier, with all of the close games this week there were no shortage of opportunities for Blue Jays pitchers to find themselves in high leverage situations. When it came to the top three, one relief pitcher found himself in back to back situations that trumped almost all other situations. These two at bats would come when the Jays met the Yankees on Thursday of this week. With the Jays up 2-1 on the Yankees in the rubber match of a three game set, Gavin Floyd came into the game in a crucial hold situation. What would come next is two of the top three LI situations for pitchers this week.
The third highest LI sits at 3.52, and came against Aaron Hicks with Jacoby Ellsbury on second and one out. Floyd managed to induce a fly ball shallow enough to not only get the out but hold Ellsbury from advancing, knocking the Yankees down to two away. Before the Hicks at bat however, Floyd faced Brett Gardner with none away and Jacoby Ellsbury on first. The leverage index sitting at 3.95, Floyd stepped up when he was needed. Floyd would have Gardner ground out to second. Ellsbury would advance, but the LI would only continue to decrease from there.
The highest situation leverage situation would come in a different game though. Rewind all the way back to last Sunday with Marcus Stroman on the mound against the Twins. With a leverage index of 4.33, it was far and above the highest LI among Jays pitchers. With the Jays up 3-1 in the eight inning and runners on first and second, Stroman faced off against Brian Dozier. The Twins had none away, and a comeback appeared to be imminent, Stroman rose to the challenge, causing Dozier to ground into not only a double play, but one that would take care of the lead runner at third as well. The difference in this play may have been the difference between a win and a loss, and Stroman showed exactly what he was made of. When it was all said and done, the Jays pitchers “won” all three of the highest leverage situations they were put into for the week.
Between a combination of the Jays offense finally getting a bit of a spark and cashing in runners in scoring position, and a top 6 win loss record of 5-1. The Jays boasted an impressive record of 5-1 this week as well. The Jays stepped up in the clutch this week, and it showed.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem
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