A stream of points which I hope to be able to ultimately order into something like a sensible narrative-
In today's game, the bullpen pitched 6.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 before Cecil entered the game. The Jays would have happily taken such a performance from any of their SP. This was a one-inning issue, not a "whole bullpen sucks!" issue;
As of June 6, Brett Ceci, today's villain, l had a 2.65 ERA, had allowed runs in only 3 out
of 20 appearances, and multiple runs only once. Only twice in 20
appearances did runs charged to Cecil contribute to a loss.Since June 10
he's been a mess, but it's unlikely to be an unfixable issue. Not
irrelevant - he's given up runs in five of his last six outings, the
Jays won 3 of those 5;
Yesterday's bad guy Aaron Loup's ERA from May 19 (the pitching turned around, you will recall, after the May 18 Redmond start) through June 19: 0.79 and threw 11.1 IP, 4 hits, 1 walk, 12 k and a single earned run. Four times this year he blew up real good, but before Saturday it had been a full month since the last one. His xFIP for the whole season is 2.94;
Is anyone dissatisfied with the work of Osuna, Hendricks, or Delebar? No? Good. Because you shouldn't be. You can add Tepera to that also, despite the mysterious demotion today, though he's been getting hardly any use, he's not been part of the problem. He had his only bad outing on May 18 (in a game the Jays won);
That takes us through the 6 relievers with the most innings. Schultz has started out pretty good but the sample is too small yet.
The Blue Jays have lost 12 games since May 18, 4 of those are on the SP (3 of those four the team scored 2 runs or less). Of the other 8, 3 were in the 7th, one in the 8th, 2 in the 9th, and 2 in extras.
2 on Cecil, 2 Loup, and 2 Osuna, giving up their own runs, and two on inherited runners (one Delebar, one Osuna). So in the last month, Osuna - whom no one doubts, nor should - has let more get away than either Cecil or Loup.
Of the Jays relievers who've pitched in 2015 who were not on the roster at the start of play on today, June 21, the last time any of them pitched in a major league game was May 16. The collective ERA of the Jays bullpen this year is 3.56 (8th in the league). Take away the collective stats of the six players who haven't been here in over a month, and that falls to 2.88 - which would be 4th in the league. I realize that all teams have poor pitchers on the shuttle, but for one comparison, it's better than the collective ERA of the Yankees (4th best team bullpen ERA in the AL) 7 most used relievers.
Point here being that since the pitching turned around, the six busiest Jays relievers have been fine, outside of Cecil's last 10 days which is most likely a blip. The thing is, you need at least 7 good ones and the plug-ins to not be awful. So the lesson from that is that they either they need to find another reliable guy for the middle innings, or they need a titular closer in order to push Cecil back into more targeted match-ups. If the report about K-Rod was accurate, and assuming he's available, that would be an ideal addition at the right price. Put another way, the bullpen isn't a disaster at all, though it could use a select acquisition.
As for the starters, while their collective ERA for the season is 4.42, 14th in the AL - since May 18 (without Copeland) it's 3.47 which would rank 3rd. Again, I understand the nature of Arbitrary End Points and as flaky as they are, unless I apply the same AEP to the other teams, their value is further reduced...BUT it is also a valid principle that more recent data is better than older data. Clearly the rotation is thin, as Sanchez's injury exposed (barring the possibility that someone other than Copeland ends up being a competent 6th starter). But as long as the front five is healthy and pitching as they have for the most recent month+, they are certainly good enough to support the hitting.
The takeaway then is that if - and it's a not insignificant "if" - the most recent data is the real talent level (and it's far more likely to be than the mess than was the first quarter-season) then the pitching staff is not BAD, just thin. The lesson from that, for the starters, is that they don't need a Scott Kazmir (check his road splits) or Aaron Harrang at a too-expensive price. They need to either add a true ace, like Cueto, or be confident that Doubront, Norris, Boyd etc can fill the need when called upon - or find someone who can.
I suggest some deep breaths for the more panicky fans.
Three players demoted today - not sure why Tepera was one of them - no word on the promotions byut Travis will surely be one. They can push back the open rotation spot to June 30 so they will likely recall a reliever there and then switch them out for the starter for that game. Figure the other guy will be a reliever too. Rasmussen deserves a shot, the other (temporary relief call-up) guy could be almost anyone that's on the 40 man roster.
Who starts on June 30 should prove interesting. The reporters say the team speaks of Sanchez being back "in a few weeks" partly based on the assumed need for one or more rehab starts. The thing they aren't saying is that it's only 3 weeks until the ASB. It's safe then to speculate Sanchez won't be back until after, barring a wonderful report tomorrow. IF that's an accurate assumption, then there's at least 3 turns, beginning with that 6/30 start, for the unknown starter. There exists only three reasonable possibilities:
1. Give Norris a spin. He hasn't earned it by his work in Buffalo but a 3 start trial will either motivate him to step up or to press. Which would be valuable information on sevberal levels;
2. Go with Felix Doubront who's earned a look but who would need to be carried all season, traded, or lost on waiver claim when they were done with him. Such a valuable (presumably) insurance policy might be too valuable to lose for the marginal gain of three starts. Something to watch: While Doubront's next rotation turn is on Friday, that's going with 5 days rest because of an off-day. tomorrow. If the Jays flip he and Matt Boyd around, so that FD starts on Thursday, that would line Doubront up with the open major league turn and be a strong indication he was the choice;
3. Alex pulls off a trade in the coming week for a starting pitcher that would slot in - and who can predict his trades?
Also Dickey is due back tomorrow but if Travis is joining the team, it seems likely Kawasaki goes back to clear his spot.
Also, if you somehow missed it - Anthony Alford just moved up to Dunedin.