Jays From the Couch argues that there are several problems with the Toronto Blue Jays, but all are nothing compared to the real problem
The Toronto have started their 2018 season and it has been kind of anticlimactic. I mean, we have waited months for baseball and this what we get for it? Two losses to start the season against the powerful Yankees. We have the dying of Josh Donaldson‘s arm. We have Troy Tulowitzki needing surgery on BOTH feet. But, those aren’t the most pressing issues to come out of the first two games of the 2018 season.
After watching Donaldson bounce a throw to first on Opening Day, there were several people freaking out. I mean, sure. It was pretty bad. But, it’s dead arm. Basically, he needs to not throw for a little bit. The real concern is that it seems to have been going on for a while now. If rest isn’t enough to resuscitate his arm, the club might need to take a bit more of an aggressive approach. Which could mean more time off. Or, it could mean more DH time for Donaldson, which would push Kendrys Morales to the bench, which might not be a bad thing, but I’ll get into that in a bit. Let’s just say there is some silver lining around the Donaldson thing: he could be fine in a few days and his bat still stays in the lineup.
Of course, there will be folks who want to chime in and say that the team took a wait and see approach to Tulo and look who that turned out. I don’t get those people. The moment Tulo said his feet hurt, should they have jumped right to surgery. ‘Oh, your feet hurt, get the scalpel!’. Taking time and trying less invasive treatments make sense, even if it means that the Tulo situation has now bled into the regular season as he’s on the 60 Day DL.
Tulo being on the DL isn’t as bad as some would have you believe. The crux of their argument is that he’s ALWAYS hurt and he is making so much damn money. When a season starts, financial commitments shouldn’t even matter to the average fan. The onfield product is all that matters. And, with efforts this winter, the club has insulated themselves against what some would call the inevitable DL time for Tulo. It’s not Ryan Goins or Darwin Barney filling in anymore. It’s fine…
The real problem this Blue Jays team is facing is much more concerning. In game 1, Toronto struck out 12 times. In game 2, they matched their total. After game one, I tweeted that the club was on pace for 1944 Ks. They managed to maintain that pace in the second game. Obviously, they won’t keep that going (RIGHT?!), but last season saw them whiff 1327 times. This season, 24 of 54 outs have come via the strike out. That’s 44.4% of the time.
Now, we expected strike outs to happen. Morales is the DH. Two strike curves continue to be his nemesis. We knew that Randal Grichuk comes with power, but will also strike out a lot. Kevin Pillar has a reputation for swinging at everything and that hasn’t changed this season. Yet, expecting strike outs doesn’t make what we’re witnessing any easier to swallow.
Over two games, Justin Smoak and Devon Travis lead the club with four whiffs. Donaldson, Pillar and Granderson each have three. Morales is actually looking good in comparison with only two. Collecting 24 strike outs has the club sitting last in the American League. It is a major reason for their .115 average and .169 OBP, both last place values. In short, the strike outs are wasted outs. The Blue Jays are killing themselves by leaving the batter’s box heading in the wrong direction.
Look, I am well aware that we are two games into a marathon season that lasts 162 games. So, sure there is lots of time for this discussion to evolve in several different directions. Obviously, discussing what any player or team is on pace to do is silly. Usually it is fun. Saying Grichuk and Pillar are on pace for 81 homers is fun. It’s ridiculously pointless, but fun. Looking at how many times the Blue Jays have been strike out victims is a whole lot less fun. But, unlike the homer pace discussion, there is a very real fear that this trend will have an impact on the fortunes of this ball club.
We’re only two games into the 2018 season and the Toronto Blue Jays have several issues to deal with. But, none may be as concerning is their collective ability to strike out.
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