Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jays Won't Stay Under The Radar Long

Teams Will Notice Jays Soon

It's a small sample of only 5 games, but as I predicted several times during the spring, the Jays are showing a team that is capable AND performing at a level that will lead them to a .500 record.

Pitching

Good pitching almost always beats good hitting and it is the Blue Jays strength. They are 5th in ERA, 2nd in hits given up, 5th best in walks, and have only given up 4 home runs. Given that Brandon Morrow is the only starter with overpowering stuff, the Jays starters will succeed by keeping the ball in the park, keeping hitters off base, and keeping them off balance. The ability to throw strikes and throw off a hitters timing by changing looks and speeds is more important than pure stuff as 300+ game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine proved time and again. Dana Eveland did that yesterday and if Jays are to have a winning season, it is this approach which will take them there until flamethrowing prospects like Zack Steware and Kyle Drabek arrvive on the scene. There are however enough power arms in the pen, that it should be a strength for the team and be near the top of the AL stats board. All drama aside, the closers, Frasor and Gregg, have gotten it done and with a few hiccups will continue to do so. The starters have been so good, that Merkin Valdez hasn't even had an outing yet. Nice problem............let's hope it continues.

Hitting

Though the Blue Jays are in the middle of the pack in batting average they are amongst the leaders in homers, RBI, and OBP. It is early yet and the power was supplied early by Vernon Wells and many of the walks by virtue of opposition pitching, but the Jays are capable of putting up enough runs to be dangerous and support strong pitching. Just as we don't want to get too excited about Vernon Wells hot start, we shouldn't be too concerned about players who haven't gotten it going yet.
Aaron Hill hasn't gotten it going yet but we all know he's going to hit. Lyle Overbay's recent seasons aside, he is a good hitter and will have a respectable showing. Travis Snider has shown more patience at the plate this year and had a couple of timely hits and just needs to be in the lineup every day to settle in to the breakout season I predict. Alex Gonzalez bat (and defense) has been a nice surprise and Adam Lind has been .....................well Adam Lind of last season.

Fielding

The 4 errors in the first 3 games was a little disconcerting, but the team has responded to play errorless ball with some spectacular defense since. We must play strong defense to support a pitching staff that relies on putting the ball in play to get outs. We have the talent to finish in the middle of the pack. Anything beyond that would be a bonus.

Recap

The Jays are off to a similar start to last season. Except for a blown save they would be undefeated and have already had a couple of comeback victories, a weakness in recent years. Opponents on the schedule in April include the White Sox who have a good team, the Angels, Rays, and Red Sox. Therefore their record at the end of this month should be a better indicator of this team's capabilities than it was a year ago when they had a weak schedule to start the season.
The team will lose some games to those good teams but look for a 12-12 record to start May.

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