3 Up 3 Down: Colabello, Reyes and Starting Pitching

Judging by the way the first third of the season transpired for the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s easy to deduce that the Baseball Gods have conspired against them.

The Jays have suffered a number of fluke injuries, they have a 4-12 record in one-run games, they’re 2-25 when they score four or fewer runs in a game, and although the AL East is as a whole is a dog’s breakfast, Toronto still hasn’t capitalized on that opportunity.

However, yesterday’s walk-off win by the Blue Jays was proof that sometimes the Baseball Gods aren’t always conspiring against the Toronto Blue Jays. Once that fluke pop-up happened at second took place, it seemed as though the Blue Jays were destined to win.


Chris Colabello: The Hero

How great has the Chris Colabello story become? He really couldn’t have picked a more dramatic way to extend his hitting streak to 17 games than with a game-winning base hit up the middle to secure the walk-off victory.

Colabello has been quite the pleasant surprise thus far for the Blue Jays, and in many ways he draws a lot of parallels with what happened last year with Juan Francisco.

This has led some to put on a proverbial “pumpkin watch” on Chris Colabello, but for the time being, I say the Blue Jays should just ride this streak as long as they can, and then adjust accordingly.

Francisco began his descent somewhere around his 24 game mark with the Blue Jays last year, and Colabello has already played 31 games in a Blue Jays uniform … and he’s still hovering around the .355/.400/.529 mark.

I don’t believe Colabello is going to factor in as the Blue Jays everyday fourth or fifth hitter in the lineup long term, but at the very least … he appears to be very useful bat off the bench.  

After his recent struggles in the field, his days are likely numbered as an outfielder and will likely be supplanted by Ezequiel Carrera, but that could open up the possibility of giving Colabello some time at first base.

One thing’s for sure; so long as Chris Colabello continues to hit the way he is right now, John Gibbons needs to find a way to get him into the lineup.


Jose Reyes Responds

Isn’t it interesting the different ways that athletes respond to criticism? While some lash out towards their detractors (see J.P. Arencibia), others prefer to retort in the form of stepping up their game on the field.

Jose Reyes has certainly done that the past week, and he was one of the big reasons why the Blue Jays rallied to beat the Astros 7-6 yesterday. It was almost as if a vintage version of Jose Reyes emerged, as he went 2 for 5 and stole a pair of bases.

Since that fateful game in Minnesota last weekend when he cost his teammates a game, Reyes as reached base 11 times and stolen a total of five bases. Not bad for a guy who’s “in decline”.

Jose Reyes’ recent resurgence combined with Ryan Goins’ steady decline just reinforces the notion that Reyes should absolutely be the Blue Jays’ starting shortstop over Ryan Goins. The offense and speed Reyes provides heavily outweighs any plus Goins offers on defense.


The Starting Rotation Rebounds

If the Blue Jays were going to have a fighting chance in the AL East, they needed their starting pitching to stabilize. Toronto’s starting five have done that and more; starting pitchers are finally going deep into games, thus easing the workload on the bullpen.

Blue Jays’ starters have thrown at least six innings in 15 of their last 18 games, and the Blue Jays pitching staff has walked two or less batters per game in 11 of their last 13 games.

Over the past 14 days, the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation has been a very respectable 2.84. In the past 30 days, their ERA balloons to 4.01, but the numbers are not nearly as disastrous as they were early in the season.

It’s not as though the Blue Jays have faced weaker teams in the past few weeks, they’ve shut down some pretty potent lineups in the form of the Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Starting pitching is something that GM’s should always look to improve on the trade market, but I think most would agree that starting pitching is now an area in which the Blue Jays can feel comfortable about in the short term.

And with Daniel Norris waiting in the wings in Buffalo as insurance, the Blue Jays starting rotation suddenly appears to be in pretty good shape.

Image courtesy of Lapress.ca/Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.