Perhaps the most optimistic thing you can say about the week the Toronto Blue Jays have had is that it’s over. Or rather it’ll be over soon. Depending on where you stand on Monday or Sunday beginning the week – a debate far too storied to get into here.
Either way, things have been ugly for the club in recent days. They only secured one win, they fell below .500, a struggling Jaime Garcia headed to the disabled list, Aaron Sanchez continued to struggle, and they suffered a dispiriting bullpen collapse to waste a promising Sam Gaviglio outing.
Josh Donaldson has a rough go of it
If the Blue Jays are going to be good Donaldson needs to be great, and he definitely wasn’t this week. He wasn’t the only one to scuffle, but he is the engine of this club’s offence and when he’s not going they will be hard-pressed to score runs.
The third baseman took 23 trips to the plate and slashed just .118/.304/.176. It’s not uncommon for even the sport’s biggest stars to have stretches like this, but Donaldson has looked uncharacteristically lost lately.
A good indicator of that is his contact rate, which sat at just 50 percent this week, including a very unusual outing for him on Thursday where he took nine cuts and missed on eight of them on the way to a three-strikeout day.
There’s no reason to be too concerned about Donaldson at this point, but it’s a pretty good bet that the Blue Jays don’t get out of their recent funk until he escapes his.
J.A. Happ gets the support he doesn’t need
On Wednesday afternoon, Happ pitched an outstanding game going seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts, no walks, and just two hits. At the same time, the Blue Jays lineup came through on a big way, scoring 12 runs in the matinee.
although Happ’s day at the plate was – but it is part of a broader pattern. While the Blue Jays offence hasn’t been consistent it has consistently backed Happ to the tune of 7.5 runs per nine innings. No starter in the major leagues can boast that level of run support.
Happ’s undoubtedly enjoyed watching his club’s bats go to work, but it would probably be better for the Blue Jays if they got some of those big offensive performances when one of their less effective starters was on the hill. The southpaw usually hasn’t needed all the help, and he certainly didn’t on Wednesday.
Kendrys Morales changes it up
The image is more or less self-explanatory, but on Thursday night Morales made a couple of surprising mid-game adjustments. Off came the glasses that were supposed be the catalyst for a 2018 rebound and on went a pair of rarely-seen batting gloves.
You can’t blame the designated hitter for trying to mix things up in the midst of an epic slump and it almost worked. The new-look Morales hit a 105.3 mph rocket with a Hit Probability of 63 percent and got robbed by a fine play from Matt Joyce.
A bright spot from a grim Aaron Sanchez start
No one is under the illusion that Sanchez had a good outing on Thursday night. The right-hander gave up four earned runs in four innings and it took him 97 pitches to accomplish that.
There was, however, a small positive to be taken from the disappointing outing as Sanchez was able to snap off some of his best curveballs of the season. All year, he’s moved away from the hook to the change – likely in part to protect his finger from blister issues. The changeup has largely been effective, but Sanchez is at his best when he can mix in a devastating breaking ball.
Coming into the start he’d gotten just five strikeouts with the curve, but on Thursday he got three Oakland Athletics to flail at it for strike three. Here’s what those hacks looked like:
If you didn’t like those it’s fair to say you don’t like GIFs of curveballs – or maybe just Samsung Galaxy S9 ads.
Clubhouse track of the week
Eric Church – Drink in my hand
No MLB clubhouse is a stranger to country bangers, but this one is a gem. If you don’t have an Eric Church in your life you’re doing it wrong, and the Blue Jays are doing it right.
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