3 Up 3 Down: Cecil, the Jays/Orioles Rivalry, and the Starting Rotation
Another series and another squandered opportunity by the Toronto Blue Jays. While they dropped two of three at home to the Baltimore Orioles, that series could’ve very easily gone three ways: 1.) the way it did 2.) Orioles sweep 3.) Blue Jays sweep.
That’s how slim the margin of error has been for this team the past few weeks. When the Blue Jays lose, it’s typically by a very slim margin; which tends to make those losses particularly frustrating. But when they win, it’s usually by a landslide.
Of course, there were a few goats from the weekend, there were a few unsung heroes, but overall, some pretty entertaining baseball at the Rogers Centre.
Brett Cecil’s Struggles
Many will point to Brett Cecil’s struggles as one of the factors that led to the Blue Jays losing yesterday’s game (and nearly blowing Friday’s as well). It hasn’t been a great two weeks for Cecil, who has given up earned runs in five of his last six appearances.
Overall, Brett Cecil has struggled in high leverage situations this season for the Blue Jays, and most of those opportunities have come as the team’s closer. After yesterday’s implosion, his current reign as Jays closer has probably come to an end.
It’s strange because for the past two plus seasons, Brett Cecil has been a fairly reliable reliever for the Blue Jays (in a bullpen that’s seemingly in a constant state of flux). But for whatever reason, when tasked with getting outs in a save opportunity, Cecil just can’t close the door.
It’s probably time to give someone like Steve Delabar or Liam Hendriks a shot at those save opportunities. It’s not to slight Brett Cecil at all, but sometimes moves like these are made to save face. Hence Brett Cecil’s incredibly short leash as Blue Jays closer earlier in the season.
Part of it may be that the Blue Jays were spoiled the past three seasons by having Casey Janssen as the team’s closer. He very rarely ever walked a batter and made those save situations relatively stress-free.
And if there’s one thing that’s been Cecil’s demise as of late, it’s been those free passes.
The Blue Jays/Orioles Rivalry Heats Up
I don’t think Jose Bautista is very fond of the Orioles. pic.twitter.com/RFdIZGE6tw
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) June 19, 2015
For the longest time, the Blue Jays have really lacked a true rival. It seems like MLB always tried to shoehorn them into Interleague games versus the Phillies or Braves, but now there finally appears to be a rivalry worthy of promoting.
Things cooled down between the Orioles and Blue Jays during the latter two games of the series, but was Friday night’s game ever fun to watch. The back and forth between the benches was something to marvel at and made it must-watch TV.
It’s apparent there is no love lost between Baltimore and Toronto, and the fact that they’ll play each other seven more times in the month of September alone could make for some very compelling baseball.
Dare I say that this Blue Jays/Orioles rivalry is approaching the levels of the Blue Jays/A’s rivalry of the early 1990’s?
The Starting Rotation Still Needs Work
The bullpen is obviously an area which needs to be addressed, but another area of concern for the Blue Jays is the back end of their rotation. Despite a strong effort initially from Scott Copeland, the Jays are now reeling to find a fifth starter.
With the long-term status of Aaron Sanchez still up in the air, Alex Anthopoulos has now stated the club’s focus will shift towards improving the starting rotation rather than the bullpen.
The Blue Jays surely had to know that Scott Copeland would only be a band-aid solution for the back end of the starting rotation. So aside from calling up yet another starter from Buffalo, the Jays will have to go outside the organization to improve the rotation.
For the time being, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey seem to have stabilized, Marco Estrada has been serviceable, but Drew Hutchison still remains a big question mark. The fact that Hutchison usually alternates between good and bad starts is really concerning to me.