Jays From the Couch brings you the latest Toronto Blue Jays news & links. This edition: Kevin Pillar, Mat Latos & more!
It would appear that there is no end to the Toronto Blue Jays’ season is over type posts. Whether it is tearing the team down, trading star players, it seems everyone is tripping over themselves to offer up some sort of hot take about this historical start to the 2017 season. Instead, let’s look at some other items, shall we?
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* Well, something that may not have been predicted: Mat Latos will start for the Toronto Blue Jays in an April game. The club will call him, and Casey Lawrence, up to start against the Angels this weekend. Latos is an interesting choice since he is not on the 40 man roster, which means that someone will need to be DFAd in order to make room. As well, the Blue Jays will have to pay him some sort of prorated portion of his $1.5M for being in the big leagues.
Latos hasn’t exactly lit up AAA Buffalo, and should the club decide that he is, in fact, the guy who could not stick with 5 other teams over the last little while, they will have to figure out sending him back down. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Mike Bolsinger is in the same non-40 man boat as Latos, and would be cheaper to put on the big league club. Sending both down again would mean risking them on waivers. Maybe Latos is the preferable option for that reason. Maybe.
* Writing for MLB.com, Keegan Matheson (he of Jays From the Couch Radio fame…that’s it, isn’t it?) takes a look at Kevin Pillar settling into the leadoff role. And, just like we all predicted, he is handling it juuuuuust fine. What is interesting is hearing John Gibbons talk about how Pillar has always told him he wants to leadoff. That was an unexpected surprise. One has to woner just how long “always” has been.
Keegan touches on some changes in Pillar’s approach that has helped the CF adapt, including his much improved 2 strike approach and handling inside pitches. We also may have noticed that Pillar seems to be laying off outside ones, which was monumentally more frustrating to watch. While he is having success at the moment, though, Gibby is quick to say that the plan is still to move Devon Travis back there when he returns to his normal self. But, until then…whatever works.
* At Sportsnet, Shi Davidi brings us a quick look at new Blue Jays call up, Ty Kelly. Kelly has been around the block, so to speak. He’s been DFAd twice, optioned, recalled and claimed on waivers all in just over two months. As well, he saw some time with Team Isreal in the WBC. He is a guy who can play multiple positions, which presents some intriguing value for a team like the Blue Jays.
Despite his travels, and varied experience, Kelly seems to be an even keeled fellow: “I’m pretty easy-going and I feel like I’m a realist so things happen. It’s part of the game, just like getting claimed by another team and getting shuffled around. It’s part of the business and the way the 40-man roster is set up is to give guys more opportunities, so I just see wherever I’m at as an opportunity and this is a new one.”
On a team that needs backups for the backups, Kelly could come in very handy. As Josh Donaldson will be out for weeks, that pushes everyone up a bit in the depth charts. Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins will likely see more playing time, which means that a guy like Kelly, who brings the ability to play all over, could see some big league time over the next while. And, in case you were wondering, he also has a catcher’s glove…just in case.
* Here’s an interesting idea that may, or may not work in Toronto. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com suggests a new statistic for relievers. He got the idea from Goose Gossage, of all people. Now, before you dismiss it because of that, you really should consider it. Essentially, the idea is that what we call the save stat is really a fabricated measure of effective relievers. Silver cites the fact that “closers” are used in situations where they SHOULD be able to end the game. When a guy is up by 3 runs, with 3 outs to get, he should be able to get out of the game with the lead in tact.
What might be a more effective measurement is the “Goose Egg”. In a basic definition, it would measure every time a pitcher pitches an inning with his team close (tied, or ahead by no more than 2 runs) in the 7th inning, or later. It is a measurement of effectiveness in ‘high leverage’ situations, sort of. And, a reliever could get multiple Goose Eggs per game. Silver went back and ranked relievers with this stat and compared them to saves leaders. It is an interesting list. You should check it out.
The reason it is mentioned here is to ask the question as to whether the Blue Jays should adjust their bullpen usage, much in the same way that Cleveland did in the playoffs. Rather than saving the “closer” – who might be the best reliever, with the best stuff – for a 9th inning “save situation”, he would be brought out in situations that matched the Goose Egg measurement.
So, maybe Roberto Osuna (assuming he is the most effective) could be used in any situation, rather than saving him for the 9th inning. The issue here is in assuming that Osuna is the most effective reliever. But, this is where creativity comes into play. A manager wouldn’t be stuck using the “closer” in the 9th inning, or in any high leverage inning if he is struggling. Imagine if Fernando Rodney weren’t relied on through that whole streak of struggles a while back. Instead, the club would ride the hot hand, regardless of inning. It is an interesting idea; one that would need to be seen in action to see how effective a strategy it would be.
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