Jays From the Couch presents some observational notes on the Toronto Blue Jays, including Saunders, Morales, Smoak and more!
The Toronto Blue Jays have begun an important set of games against division rivals and the very good Houston Astros. While this kind of intense standings watching can be rather stressful, we have to be able to enjoy the baseball being played. It is great entertainment. And, while the drama is being played out, the club has been busy the last few days. And, there is lots to talk about. What follows is a small sample.
Rather than attempt to force a few ideas into long winded, wasteful posts of their own, Jays From the Couch presents a collection of observations on recent events and situations involving the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays brought back a familiar face. This time last year, we were clamoring to get Michael Saunders into the All Star game. This year, he’s joining the Buffalo Bisons on a minor league deal after being cast off by the Phillies.
At first, this may seem like an odd signing, since Saunders has struggled so mightily since his All Star appearance. Acknowledging that there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal, this might prove to be more necessary than it appears. If you look at the Blue Jays depth charts right now, Ian Parmley is the 5th outfielder. If you go even further and look to Buffalo, Dwight Smith Jr, Jose Tabata and Roemon Fields patrol the outfield with guys like Dalton Pompey, Anthony Alford and Darrell Ceciliani on the shelf. So, maybe this Saunders deal isn’t so crazy. Outfield depth isn’t exactly in abundance for this team.
With his .205/.257/.360 line and 51 strike outs in 61 games, outfield depth just might be the real value in this minor league deal. And, that is just fine. And, hey! Maybe the ‘change of scenery’ narrative will have life breathed into in, which would make this an even better deal.
Kendrys Morales has an issue with breaking pitches. This jumped out in Wednesday’s game against the Orioles. He ended up with two strike outs on the evening, but it was the manner in which he whiffed at breaking balls that was cringe worthy. I had to check to see just how much of an issue this is for him.
It would appear that the league has figured out that he is struggling with the breaking stuff. As the season has gone on, they’re throwing him more and he is whiffing a lot more. He has the highest whiff rate on breaking stuff and it isn’t even close. We know he can turn on a fastball, but pitchers know better than to throw him any, especially if they see this data, which they certainly have as evidenced by the increase usage of breaking balls. But, this is nothing new…sort of:
While breaking stuff seems to have always been an issue for Morales, things look even worse this season. Considering that he is such a good hitter (and, he is), it makes you wonder how he could have so much trouble identifying the breaking ball and how it has gotten worse this season.
When Saunders was vying to be an All Star, the Blue Jays rallied all of Canada and beyond to get their guy into the Mid-Summer Classic. And, it worked. Now, it is Justin Smoak‘s turn. As improbable as it might have seemed 4 or 5 months ago, here we are making a push to have Smoak represent the Blue Jays in the starting lineup. Toronto’s first baseman is trailing Eric Hosmer by a narrow margin (~72,000 votes) and very well could take over the lead by the time all is said and done. You can do your part by heading HERE!
What is more impressive than him setting a career high in home runs half way through the season is the fact that he’s slashing .302/.369/.583. He’s dropped his strike out rate to a much more acceptable 18.5%. Smoak has been the subject of many words here on the Couch, which you can read about:
- Smoak’s been worth every penny
- Revisiting the decision to extend him
- Smoak’s been one of the best hitters in baseball
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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