Friday, 21 August 2015

Dust Having Settled

Not entirely, of course, but with the first six of well reported 13 game showdown between the Yankees and Jays now in the books, it's an opportune time to catch our breath and take stock. As you might guess, my intent was to post this entry on Monday but as is so often the case lately, life got in my way o a regular basis. Now we've put two more games behind us but, ya know, oh well.

That does give me the chance to point out something that I don't think any of the mainstream writers have pointed out. A lot of what was said over the course of last weekend made reference to the Yankees having "3 games in hand" (that is, that they had played three fewer games than the Blue Jays). The presumption, of course, being the Yankees might win all three and so they had a bigger advantage that the 1.5 games they left Toronto with Sunday night. But now, four days later, the Yankees have burned 2 out of those 3 and are still only 1.5 games ahead. Having 1 more or less game played from here on out becomes pretty irrelevant. That's a sort of unseen win for the Jays this week.  Meanwhile, while rooting for the pitching-rich Indians to dominate the Yanks this weekend, I do worry that we still have to play that Cleveland bunch before the end of the month.

Also, am I the only one who notices how well  Marcus Stroman's re-hab schedule is aligned to Drew Hutchison's turn in the rotation? I don't think that's a co-incidence. Even with Hutch coming off two good starts, it sure looks like a lack-of-confidence issue on the part of the team. Stroman is going to get three chances through his re-had to prove himself and then he'll line up with the Sept 9 start, that would normally fall to Hutch, at Boston. This also happens to be the next Hutch start that falls on a road game. Hmmm.  It would not be too conspiratorial to suppose that Hutch's two home start (Detroit, and Baltimore) serve as a sort of audition for the Boston game. And that game, in turn, an audition for the rest of the season (potentially 4 more starts).

That assumes, of course, that they don't skip Hutch on 9/3, but if they do that he'll have a start in New York instead of one at home against the Orioles (and it's just as crucial to beat the O's at this point too). One would assume that's not the outcome they'd want.  Speaking of skipping turns, Ben Ennis was grumbling a bit on the air today about not getting maximum usage out of David Price because of the off days and not keeping him on 4 days rest. But I think he's missing the boat. In his first start, the Blue Jays pushed him back a day so that not only would he open against the Twins, whom the Blue Jays were chasing for the wild card at the time, but he would start twice versus the Yankees rather than one against NY and one against Oakland. Which is a GOOD thing. But as I noted at the time, once he started that second time vs. NY (also on 5 days) that guaranteed the Jays would only get 12 starts from him, rather than 13. From tat point onward, even if he goes every 5 days instead of every 5 games, it doesn't help. So on that front, there's no motivation to skip Hutch to get more price - rather it's just about match-ups. 

Here's a trivia for you: Josh Donaldson, with 1/4 of the seasons left, is already sporting the 8th highest season WAR in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays. He's still on pace for #1 on that list. A the moment, he's just passed Colby Rasmus (who had 3 times as many PA and if he hits the 8.8 he's on pace for, he'd pass Joe Carter - who had more than 6 times as many PA in the uniform as Donaldson is on pace to have.

Finally, regrading Alex Anthopoulos' future. Having heard a plethora of conversations on the subject, here's what I think should happen. I'd promote Alex to president of Baseball Operations, and hire a business focused executive to be president of all the non-baseball matters. Which of them is superior to the other wouldn't be all the important to me, but if the business guy is technically Alex's superior, he wouldn't have the last word on the baseball personnel decisions. The latest rumor, of course, is Shapiro from Cleveland. And I respect his baseball acumen and in my scenario, I'd be glad to add another mind to the decision making process but Alex would have the ultimate authority. He's shown himself to be an incredibly prepared and intelligent executive with an uncanny instinct for making the right decisions (not to say perfect but no one is). While I don't think he has the experience to carry out the duties of the president on the business side, I for one don't want anyone between him and ownership anymore.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Update to Previous Commentary

About that playoff roster, it seems wise to clarify and expand my comments in light of the shorthand Wilner is tweeting (which is not wrong, just has the potential for misunderstanding due to brevity).

The major effect of the Aug. 31 deadline is that it's the last day you can bring a player into the organization and that player be eligible to play in the post-season. There is another intended effect, but that effect has a major loophole. The intended effect is that the pool of players from which you may construct your playoff roster consists of the 25 active players, plus anyone on the DL (either sort) or the bereavement, suspended or military leave list.

As the roster currently stands for the Blue Jays, that's the following:

Price, Buehrle, Dickey, Estrada, Hutchinson (Stroman)
Osuna, Sanchez, Lowe, Cecil, Hawkins, Hendricks, Loup, Schultz
Martin, Navarro; Encarnacion, Smoak, Colobello; (Travis), Pennington; Tulowitzki, Goins; Donaldson;(Izturus)
Bautista, Pillar, Revere, (Saunders)

So that's 29 names.
Scratch Izturus who's done, and it looks like maybe Saunders who we never get updates about, and who has precisely 4 weeks left in which to get in a proper rehab assignment. Down to 27. It's safe to say a healthy Stroman would likely bump either Schultz or Loup (or Hutch?) and if you want Travis, and he's ready to play, one would assume that costs you another pitcher from that group.  And you still end up with Goins or Pennington as your reserve outfielder. But there's really no other stop where you might squeeze in a Dalton Pompey.

But then there's that huge loophole I mentioned, and this is why Wilner explains it as he does. The rules state that a player from your 25 who's injured at the time your playoff appearance begins (or anytime thereafter, may be replaced by ANY player in your organization, even if they are not on the 40 man roster, as long as they were in the organization before the August 31 deadline expired at midnight. So if, say, Revere got hurt the Jays could theoretically replace him with Anthony Alford if they were of a mind to.  (with respect to Pompey, how col would that be?)

If Hutch were "injured" then Loup or Schultz, or Tepera, or Delebar, or heck, Conner Greene could take his place.

All clear now? By the way, one of the guys I mentioned yesterday has been promoted. Conner Fisk is up to Dunedin.That's a pretty impressive reward.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Prospect Progress Report, 4/5 and stuff

 (for reals this time!)
So I only just now noticed I put 4/5 on the July report - which was actually the third of five. I'm going to have to speak to my copy editor.

Let's never rest Tulo again, right? This is fun stuff. Is it too unrealistic to hope for sweeping the Yanks in the Bronx? (Apparently not!) Today Yesterday was in some ways a practically perfect game. Still, there was a bit of news in the last day or two that even in the face of all this joy I'm going to grumble about.  John Gibbons has said that as of now they do not plan to flip Buehrle and Hutch in Oakland. Even though I did not realize it when I first remarked upon the subject, doing so, or not, is an important choice that has implications beyond just minimizing Hutchinson's exposure. It affects the days of rest for other more effective members of the rotation.

Take a look at this:
Here's the ideal, IMO, way to arrange the rotation that I published in the last post, side by side with the rotation kept in it's current order -

7at New YorkDickeyDickey
8at New YorkPricePrice
9at New YorkEstradaEstrada
14New YorkPricePrice
15New YorkEstradaEstrada
16New YorkBuehrleHutchinson

18at PhilidelphiaDickeyBuehrle
19at PhilidelphiaPriceDickey

21at LAEstradaPrice
22at LABuehrleEstrada
23at LADickeyHutchinson
25at TexasPriceBuehrle
26at TexasEstradaDickey
27at TexasBuehrlePrice

Do you see what I see? A full week between David Price starts? When does THAT start making sense? Same for Estrada, and Buehrle and Dickey get 5 days rest. Then the next time through Buehrle and Dickey get a full week between starts and Price and Estrada five days. And there are 3 off days in September so added rest isn't really a factor. Moreover, in the schedule I'm suggesting Price gets an extra days rest twice, as does Estrada, Dickey and Buehrle get an extra day once. But more importantly, you take the single biggest weakness on your team out of play for two full weeks while maximizing the three plays for whom you collectively paid a very high price to obtain.

I realize that Gibby knows so much more than I do about the situation and that he's managing real live people and not moving chess pieces on a board - but looking in from the outside, I don't see any logic at all in this.

Now, to the farm...

It's rather redundant to brag even more about Dalton Pompey, but let's alert the folks that tuned out on him in May.Since being  promoted to Buffalo on July 17, in 79 at bats, Pompey's slash lines is .380/.490/.4904/.984 (see why I'm dying for him to be promoted?). Matt Hague is the only other offensive guy worth noticing, he's been leading the team consistently all year. Since the trade, the pitching staff is made up mostly of veteran guys. There's really no one you'd look at as a prospect.

New Hampshire
Center fielder Roemon Fields in now technically a Buffalo Bison, but only for a few days and the noise he made this month was for NH. "Noise" meaning a .351 batting average (and .792 OPS) in 97 at-bats before the promotion. There's not really another hitter to get excited about from a prospect status on this team. Among pitchers, Blake McFarland was unfairly squeezed out of AAA as the Jays continue to accumulate veteran arms to stack in the bullpen, but he's clearly too good for AA (49 K and 4 BB in 34.2 IP, 2.08 ERA) as is Danny Barnes (56/16 in 45, 2.40).

Currently this is far and away the most prospect-laden squad in the organization and many of them are living up to their billing. After a scorching start upon being promoted to the D-Jays, Anthony Alford has struggled for the last couple of weeks. I haven't heard anything but I'm relatively certain that what we're seeing here is fatigue. He did go through a slump in Lansing and then recovered just before the call up, so this could be a matter of the adjustment game too. On the other hand, Rowdy Tellez just keeps getting better. Since July 17 his OPS is .872 and he's yet to go hitless in more than 2 consecutive games. Fellow 1B Matt Dean is tied for second in the FSL with 11 HR (1 off the league lead) but given the same # of AB, Tellez would have 20.
The pitching staff that has seen Jeff Hoffman and two talented relievers leave the organization is actually better than ever right now thanks to three promotions from Lansing. Shane Dawson just arrived (2 weeks late IMO) and showed well in his first start. Sean Reid-Foley, whom MLB is now ranking as a top 5 prospect in the system, bounced back from his worst start of the year to throw 5.1 no-hit innings last time out - if he ever learns to command his stuff he has monster potential.
And Connor Greene who came into the season as an interesting little sleeper and thanks to a boost in velocity is following the footsteps of Kendell Graveman. Greene is currently on a run of 19 innings without an earned run and in his last start struck out 10 in 7 innings. I could see a scenario in which he got a couple of starts at AA, and/or was assigned to the AFL and he very likely gets an invite to big league camp next spring.
The unsung heroes of the staff are Jeremy Gabryszwski and Brady Dragmire. The former has held the opposition to 1 earned run in 5 of his last 7 outings (and 2 in another) for a 2.52 ERA over that span. The latter saw his ERA hit 10.80 on June 9, but since then he's thrown 32 innings, giving up a mere 3 earned runs on 11 hits and 6 walks while striking out 30 - that works out to an ERA of 0.84 and a WHIP of 0.53 - you'll hear his name again.

No matter who comes and who goes the Lugnuts remain a well-oiled machine. Ryan McBroom, who'd have log since moved up if Tellez wasn't in front of him, continues to lead the league in several categories including OPS. Unheralded Chris Carlson has been his stalwart companion while higher profile players have moved up and organization players move up and down. His OPS is higher than that of Alford or Tellez when they were promoted. The downside is that this was his age 24 season so he's basically 2 full years too old for the league - and McBroom is 23. DJ Davis continues to be consistently good-but-not-great which is great progress from last year.
The surprise is that the rotation lost Greene, Reid-Foley, and Dawson and continues to purr. Unheralded Connor Fisk, 7 excellent outings in 9 appearances since his first start, has stepped up  and equally little noticed Starlyn Suriel (who racked up 12 K in 6.1 IP last night) has been doing it all year, though prospect watchers never mention either. Lately they've gotten serious reinforcements from recovering Tom Robson and just promoted (and also coming off of TJ) Clint Hollon. Both men have been very impressive in a small sample with Lansing and should be fast risers up the prospect chart next season.

There's less real prospect porn on this team than in any year since affiliating with the Blue Jays.Among the hitters, observers talk about a couple of 2015 draftees that look good - catcher Ryan Hissy (rd. 14) and infielder turned center fielder Andrew Guillotte (32) but it's more about being the best of a mediocre crew than being notable prospects.
The pitching staff which just lost Hollon still has the Jays' 2015 1st round pick, Jon Harris. now ranks him as the Jays #2 prospect. But he's had some trouble stretching out and was roughed up last time out. After a long college season, fatigue may be an issue here and most think he'll be assigned higher and be a fast mover next year. Otherwise, there's not much to comment on here other that Ryan Borucki who's well regarded by plagued with injuries.

The hitter to watch on this team is CF Rodrigo Orozco. He's a slender (only 155 pounds) speedy (20 steals in 28 attempts in the DSL last year) 20 year old Panamanian that none of us had ever heard of before this year. He has a good eye at the plate and sports an .881 OPS. Expensive Venezuelan signee Yeltsin Gudino, who's a SS, bottomed out on July 12 with a .440 OPS, but the next game he went 3/4 and he turned his season around. He's hit .306/.383/.431/.814 in the 19 games since.  Another prominent signing, OF Freddie Rodriguez has a strikingly similar track for the season, seeing his OPS hit a season low of .488 on July 12 as well, his line is .259/.333/.370 since. 
The pitching story is all about Dominican Angel Perdomo and Venezuelan Juliandry Higuera. The former a high-profile signing who's been moved slowly, the latter more under the radar but both have looked very good so far. Perdono has a 2.01 ERA and Higurea is at 2.82 after having his first rough outing last time out.   Both have avoided the wildness that has plagued some of the Jays' other Latin pitchers. Top 20 prospect Matt Smoral is on this team too, at least two levels too low. He's struggled with injuries interfering with honing his delivery mechanics so apparently they are putting him in a low pressure environment. So far, he's been effective but far too wild.

The hitter who caught everyone's attention on this team was 2015 draft steal Reggie Pruitt who exploded out of the gate hitting .379 in his first seven games. A couple of slumps since have brought the numbers down for the 18 year old but he likely still the highest ceiling guy among position players here.  Outfielders Lance Jones and Kalik May both have good stats but they are 22 years old which is far too old to be in the GCL. Among pitchers, 2015 draftees Justin Maese (3rd rd.) and Jose Espada (5th) have dominated and (like Higuera and Perdomo above) are pushing the Jays to try them at the next level. Maese has a 0.92 ERA in 19.2 innings and Espada is at 2.35 with 26 K and only 4 walks in 23 IP. A couple of relievers are putting up nice numbers, Mike Estavez and Griffin Glaude, but again, they are 22 and 23 respectively so those numbers don't mean a lot.

The  DSL is another league in which you can't consider the stats without putting them in the context of age. Catchers Antonio Conception and Yoman Rodriguez have both hit well and both just turned 18. Sterling Guzman, a 17 year old SS has a .393 OPS and looks like a name we might here more about in years to come. Among pitchers, the high-profile signing and clear #1 prospect on the team is 17 year old Juan Meza, but after having been tested in the GCL he was dropped back to the Dominican but he's had control issues with both teams. Wilfri Aleton got a lot of money too and like Perdomo before him, the Jays have taken it slow with him and it's begun to pay off. Look for him to potentially make a little noise stateside. Less well know is 17 year old Colombian reliever Alvaro Galdino and recently promoted (to the GCL) starter Guadalupe Chavez, also 17, from Mexico.  Both have more K's than IP and respectable walk rates.

A lot of these guys will get a longer look when I do the off-season prospect list.

And as I finish this post, the Toronto Blue Jays finish off the Yankees and now stand a mere 1.5 games out of first place in the AL East. They still haven't lost a game in which Tulo has played, taking 11 of 12. Wow!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Jays win! and Stuff!

I decided to go ahead and write this one Thursday evening (instead of waiting on further promotions as I had intended) because I wanted to update something I'd written last night, and get ahead of the crowd of folks discussing the subject. After writing the major portion of it and taking a couple of hours away to play some Arkham Knight, I came back to the computer to find Rich Griffin had published an article on the very subject while I wasn't looking. Sigh. No real need to finish last night anymore, right? Anyway, the subject at hand was my comment about there being an opening for the Blue Jays to demote Hutchison for a couple of weeks starting on the 17th, but there's a pitching rotation machination that I'd overlooked until Shi Davidi mentioned it. If the Jays employ it they will only need Hutchinson once more before 8/29. Here's the upcoming calendar and the way they could arrange it to make that happen, and a somewhat different suggestion than Griffin's proposal which has one more August game for Hutch than mine does  (home games in bold):

7at New YorkDickey
8at New YorkPrice
9at New YorkEstrada
14New YorkPrice
15New YorkEstrada
16New YorkBuehrle

18at PhilidelphiaDickey
19at PhilidelphiaPrice

21at LAEstrada
22at LABuehrle
23at LADickey
25at TexasPrice
26at TexasEstrada
27at TexasBuehrle

 Serendipitously, the day after Hutch's next start is a Dickey start and if Thole comes off the DL in Buffalo on schedule (8/10) then the EASY choice for the Blue Jays (having already discussed recalling him) is to demote Hutchison and promote Thole then, and it leaves the rest of the team untouched.  Hutch will have time to get two starts (on five days rest each, in fact) in Buffalo to try and get a handle on his problems, and the only real issue is it spoils my desire to have Pompey up sooner rather than later. It would be kinda crazy for them to pass up this chance, and if Thole isn't ready then go ahead and call Pompey. There might be a complaint that you don't want a guy like Pompey to be on the bench but even if you don't give him some reps in CF, it's only 18 days and that's insignificant in terms of development time.
ETA: some speculation about that the Jays will go to a seven-man pen with Sanchez off the suspension, and that might lead to a Pompey recall, but as I write this no word.

Of course from this flows the next consideration, in terms of roster moves, and one I totally overlooked last night - the question of playoff roster eligibility. In order to be eligible you have to be on the active 25 man roster, or the DL (or bereavement, suspension, etc) by midnight August 31 in order to be eligible for the playoff roster, unless there's an injury when the playoffs begin. Most of that group will be an easy call:

Price, Buehrle, Dickey, Estrada
Osuna, Sanchez, Lowe, Cecil, Hawkins, Hendricks, Loup
Martin, Navarro, Encarnacion, Smoak, Colabello, Travis, Tulo, Goins, Donaldson, Bautista, Pillar, Revere

That leaves two spots. If Stroman's recovery goes well and he shows good in September he's in too, leaving only one. As it stands now, if you use Hutch to pitch on the 29th, and he bumps either Thole or Schultz (which, it'd be Thole because all you'd lose is that Martin would have to catch Dickey once while Thole was down for 10 days - it's not like they are taking 3 catchers to the playoffs), he'd be the only other guy eligible to be on this team other than the guy he didn't bump. And Saunders if we believe he's ever going to actually play this season.
If we want a 4th outfielder better than Colobello (and I surely do) and Saunders still hasn't played, then you have to connive to get Pompey on the roster before Sept. 1. Basically there's only two ways you can do that. The first  is if someone is on the DL. If Travis is still not back by the end of the month then problem solved - option Kawasaki on 8/31 for Pompey, then when the rosters expand you can add either Travis or, say, Diaz to protect yourself in the middle infield until Travis is ready. If Travis comes back sooner, and no one else hits the DL . . .the only other option is to play the August 31 game short (shorter than customary) in some other area and lose the guy demoted as a playoff option barring injury (if there's an injury to the playoff eligible players you can replace him with any player in the organization). My guess is that if this was the play, the guy who loses out is Bo Schultz.  That said, it wouldn't shock me if the team played it slow with Travis and let the situation work itself out.

Oh, and by the way, pretty decent little ballgame tonight in the Bronx, no? I know you don't need me to tell you that this is far and away the best Blue Jay experience since Joe touched 'em all. What I am trying to figure out is how this team keeps from playing .800 ball the rest of the season! David Price tomorrow, clear my schedule.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

So much stuff!

So I've been trying to get to this for a couple of days now and the longer I'm delayed the more stuff that keeps accumulating. Today was the best stuff since Monday - news about Marcus Stroman!

As basically everyone is reporting via Twitter today, Marcus Stroman will throw off a mound at Duke next week [correction: Stroman tweeets today that he's headed for Florida on Saturday so apparently his mound work will be in Dunedin] and if all goes well is tentatively scheduled to start a rehab assignment Aug. 21 which gives him up to 17 days before the end of the MiLB regular season (and if he still needs time they can assign him to a team that made the playoffs and Lansing already qualified in the first half). An ideal schedule given off days would have hi throw maybe twice in the GCL, then step over to the Dunedin team for probably three outings on either the second or third day after an appearance, then to Buffalo for the last week of their season. If he's ready at that point he'd join the Blue Jays.

John Gibbons says he envisions a relief role but if you'll recall, Gibby was pretty sure Sanchez would start off in low leverage situations when he came back from injury.  But there's the potential that Drew Hutchinson is increasingly becoming an issue that's going to need to be addressed. Which brings me to a brainstorm that I apparently shared with Matt Gwin at BlueJaysPlus - tandem starts.  About 4:30 CDT today I tweeted in reply to a question from Charlie Caskey about where Stroman fit into the pen thus:

I have no idea when Gwin posted his column but I sure didn't see it before I made the suggestion.  There's a good reason why we both suggested it though, it makes great sense. Hutch, as most know by now, goes from mediocre to disastrous when he gets to the third turn through the opposing order.
He has a high ERA in the first inning too, but there's only one solution to that. So my proposal is to line Stroman up with Hutchinson's first or second start in September. Pull Hutch in theory before the lead-off hitter gets to the plate for the 3rd time unless he is having an amazing game (unless of course he get's waxed but you could figure that out). This should be somewhere around the 5th inning. Let's say he makes it through five. Then bring on Stroman. For two innings the first time. Then treat them both as the "5th starter" in terms of their routine. You'll get 5 or 6 outings to build Stroman up slowly while lowering the potential for Hutch to melt-down and, just maybe, still giving him innings to try and figure out what's gone wrong. When October rolls around Stroman will be well prepared to be the go-to long reliever to bail out any starter that gets in trouble early.

Assuming of course that he's got his mojo back.

Other items that came to my attention this week....

Item - After David Price's royal entrance on Monday, Gibbons told the scrum that they would try to keep Price on a 5th day rotation, rather than 5th game - but he also indicated that Price would likely start in NY on the 14th (5th game), rather than Oakland on the 13th (5th day). The reason that a lot of paid observers were originally buzzing about the 5th day idea was the notion of getting an extra start out of him - but once they choose the 14th (which they should, IMO) that option is lost. With the several off days coming up, schedule manipulation is possible. For example, you can't skip Hutch's turn the next two times through, but after his outing on 8/16, you can use 4 starters until 8/29 (if they were bold they would send him to Buffalo for a couple of weeks and use the roster spot for another need). After that the 5th day choice makes little difference except that you get him into the Baltimore series on Labor Day weekend. Until the next-to-last weekend of the season. If you skip Hutchison that weekend you can again get Price into a Baltimore series instead of a TB series - so you can adjust there based on the standings and who you need to beat the most.

Either way, f you go 5th day throughout (where possible) Price lines up as available for any potential WC game - if you go 5th game he doesn't.

Speaking of Price, as irrational as it is to hope, there definitely seems to be a subtle feeling building up that the Blue Jays would have the opportunity to sign Price to an extension if they are willing to be competitive. He commented specifically that his priority is to go to a place with the best chance of winning, more so than the highest contract. If he's sincere, putting a ring on that finger would be a convncing argument.  The whole intrigue about Dave Dombrowski's availability just compounds the feeling.
Far be it for me to waste too much space speculating about the future during this magic but it's kind of how I think. Consider a $3 mil signing bonus, $26 per for 7, and a $5 mil buy-out of a $15 mil option at the end would give you a deal worth $190 or $205 depending on the option. That may sound like a burden but $26 million will be considerably less money in the baseball economy 5-7 years down the road than it is now. There are a massive ton of "ifs" o overcome though.

Item - The rumor first bandied by Jeff Blair on Monday that the team was discussing bring Josh Thole up to give Russ martin a break from the rigors of catching RA Dickey is on hold for a bit. Thole hit the 7 day DL in buffalo today with a minor infection of some sort. If he was better in 7 days he could n theory be activated for Dickey's start vs Oakland on the 13th. Speculation is that this would be when you drop the 'pen to 7 men. But there's still the problem of Chris Colabello being your 4th outfielder (or Kawasaki!). Here's my suggestion, assuming we don't learn more in the mean time about Devon Travis., who can't be activated before the 13th anyway

Thole for Schultz on the 13th - he's the obvious choice unless they want to run with 1 lefty, either way the stay will be short enough no option will be burned;
Pompey for Hutch on the 17th - don't need him until the 29th
Hutch back on the 29th for Loup (only be without him for 3 games, could do Pompey here too)
On September 1 you bring back Loup and Schultz,  along with Delebar, Tepera, Carrera and Travis if he's not already back. When Buffalo's season ends you might select Matt Hague and (so Wilneer believes) Roemon Fields. Along with Stroman of course.

Item - The Blue Jays came into Wednesday's game with the best team ERA, best Starter's ERA, and best bullpen ERA in the league since the break. At least one of those is certainly still intact. Readers here (both of you) are not entirely surprised as you're aware that the teams' pitching, in the stat lines, has been fine since mid-May. The Blue Jays runs allowed per game since May 18 is (again, not counting tonight's game) is 3.84 in 53 games - which compares favorably to the top teams in the league in that category (#1 KC at 3.72 as of 8/4, #5 Oakland at 3.80). It's been even better since the break (3.12) but the last 11 before the break, bloated by Boyd's unfortunate adventure and the Doubront game in KC, balance it out a bit. Which is to say their are peaks and valleys with any team but the pitching staff has been fine in the aggregate for a while as previously discussed here.

Item - the Blue Jays hold the second wild card, are a game back of the Angels for the first position, and now only 4.5 back of the Yankees for the division, with 6 of the next 10 games against them.  It's going to be insane.

Coming up - it's time for the last in-season minor league review in a day or two but I may hesitate a bit to let the potential promotions happen. I'd been expecting Shane Dawson to move up to Dunedin since the PAG finished, and he finally has as well as pegging Clinton Hollon to move into his Lansing turn from Vancouver. Both pitchers had their first start with their respective new teams tonight and both pitched quite well. Additionally I'd had my eye on Juliandry Higura as a potential promotion from Bluefield into Hollon's spot but he's had a couple of setbacks and Angel Perdomo has clearly edged in front of him - though I still think both deserve a promotion, plus the Bluefield squad needs room for Justin Maese and Jose Espada who need out of the rain-soaked GCL which is playing merry hob with their pitching rotation. Another promotion I'd been precdicting is Jon Harris from Vancouver but the expected move towards domination hasn't come and he may be feeling the effects of fatigue. Right now he's just not forcing their hand. I'll look at all the promotions, the players that have made serious progress in the last month, and my tentative revised prospect list with 10 pitchers removed from the discussion.