3 Up 3 Down: Pitching, Donaldson and Navarro
Whatever happened to “Dome Sweet Dome”? The Toronto Blue Jays made their long-awaited return to the Rogers Centre last week, but after a seven-game stretch at home, the club only walked away with two wins on the homestand.
After an impressive road swing to begin the 2015 season, the Blue Jays have now lost two consecutive series at home, dropped five of seven games, and are already 1-4 in one-run games.
Scoring runs wasn’t really an issue for the Jays, but a combination of poor pitching performances and sloppy defense really put them the 8-ball early and late in these games.
And had it not been for some late-game heroics from Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays may have only walked away with one win at home last week. Nonetheless, there were some troublesome trends and positives over the weekend.
Pitching Has Been a Problem
At this point, every member of the starting rotation has had an opportunity to get at least two starts. And through 12 games, is it fair to say that none of the starting pitchers have really failed to impress?
As a whole, the Blue Jays’ starting rotation has a combined ERA of 4.08, which is 24th in MLB, or fifth worst in the American League. The Jays’ pitching staff also ranks 28th of 30th in hard-hit rate at 18.1% (via Mark Simon’s tweet).
Aside from maybe Drew Hutchison’s Opening Day start in which he held the Yankees to one run through six innings, no starting pitcher has really shut down the opposition. And only once has a starter pitched seven innings, and that was R.A. Dickey on Saturday.
And since the starters haven’t pitched deep into games, that means the bullpen has been tasked with picking up a lot of innings (47.2 to be exact). Aside from a few standouts like Roberto Osuna, Miguel Castro and Liam Hendriks, the bullpen hasn’t fared much better.
While the bullpen has thrown the fourth most innings in baseball already, the Blue Jays’ relievers currently own an ERA of 4.14, which is 25th out of 30 teams in MLB.
With rookies occupying so many spots on the pitching staff, it was expected that the rotation and the bullpen would suffer some growing pains. But this is where the loss of a rotation anchor like Marcus Stroman really comes back to bite the Jays.
Have a Weekend, Josh Donaldson
Well, the next four seasons with Josh Donaldson are going to be pretty fun, aren’t they? Donaldson was on fire against the Atlanta Braves, clubbing three home runs over the course of two games. And all of this came while hitting second in the lineup, mind you.
Donaldson now has six multi-hit games, which is tied for third in the American League. While the sample size may be small, it appears as though Josh Donaldson is going to thoroughly enjoy hitting within the confines of the Rogers Centre.
Dioner Navarro: Designated Helmet Catcher
There was an interesting moment during Saturday’s walk-off win against the Braves. On the replays, all I could see was Dioner Navarro losing his mind. For whatever reason, he seemed to be running away from Josh Donaldson.
It turns out he was actually trying to fetch the helmet that Josh Donaldson threw away. And then it turns out Navarro did the same after Edwin Encarancion’s walk-off home run last August.
It’s definitely an important job, as nobody wants to get beaned with a flying helmet.
Hat tip to @35_mohammed for alerting me that Navarro did in fact catch the helmet last year. Well done, Dioner!
Images courtesy of Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press via AP/Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images Sport