Jays From the Couch brings you the latest Toronto Blue Jays news & links. This edition: Pillar, Pearce, Donaldson & more!
The Toronto Blue Jays are suddenly relevant again. By that, I mean they are not so far out of a playoff spot that we can write off the season. So, all those who already have, let’s hope you didn’t express that view somewhere permanent, like in a tweet or something.
Here’s a look at the latest rumblings in Blue Jays Land:
WE HAVE COUNTED DOWN OUR 2017 TOP PROSPECTS, WHICH YOU CAN FIND HERE
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* You are likely aware that the Blue Jays will host Atlanta for 2 games and then fly down to Georgia and play 2 more. That means that, once again, Blue Jays pitchers will be asked to hit. Joe Biagini had some interesting comments about taking his turn at the dish. Not surprisingly, he responded to Jeff Blair and Kevin Barker in typical Biagini fashion: “I can’t imagine it’s going to go very well. I think I’m going to draw my own on-deck circle,” he said. “That’s part of the plan and it’s probably going to be behind the dugout somewhere. I’m thinking about bringing a glove up there instead of a bat just in case.”
This season, Marcus Stroman is the only Toronto pitcher to collect a hit in just 8 combined plate appearances. Last season did not go any better. J.A. Happ was the only hurler to have any form of success. He had 2 in 33 combined plate appearances.
* While the Blue Jays got some bad news on Monday with Steve Pearce hitting the DL, they could be close to getting some rather good news. According to Shi Davidi, Josh Donaldson is nearing his return to action. You’ll recall that Donaldson also strained his calf muscle and has been out since the middle of April. After a month, he seems to be getting closer and closer to taking the field. In fact, manager, John Gibbons, suggests that it could be this weekend when rain returns.
Pearce’s injury seemed so innocuous at the time it happened. We looked up and he was walking off the field. But, as he hobbled down the dugout steps, it was clear that something was not right. If Donaldson’s timeline is any indication, this might not be a brief stint on the DL for Pearce.
* Kevin Pillar continues to impress Blue Jays fans this season. While his defense had already won us over, his bat was lagging behind. But, he is doing a lot lately to balance out his game. And, it would appear that people are taking notice, not just in Blue Jays Land, but south of the border, as well. Mike Axisa of CBS Sports fills in those not familiar with a bit of a profile on Pillar.
The interesting part about Axisa’s piece is noting the increase in hard contact Pillar is seeing in 2017. It is combined with a low strike out rate (13.6%). That K% is a tad lower than his career norm (15.8%) and he is making even more contact (85.8%) than his career mark of 82%. So there is reason to be more excited about Pillar’s bat this season, aside from the eye test.
* Finally, our friends over at Blue Jays From Away have a good look at some surprising names coming out of Buffalo. Wesley James catches us up on the performances of Jason Leblebijian and Dwight Smith Jr. Both bats are putting themselves directly on the radar when they may not necessarily have been there a couple months ago.
The way injuries keep piling up, we very well could be seeing either of these two make their big league debut in the coming months.
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