So far, the total is less than the sum of the parts for the Jays. It’s hard to know quite how the team has lost 5 of the last 7 games despite the starting pitching finally starting to show signs of the supposed deep talent we’ve been hearing about ; how they managed to come up flat against the supposedly punchless NL-worst Astros and how they’ve fallen into last place in the American East. Certainly, injuries and periodically slumping players may have played a role, but one has to think that John Farrell’s managing also has left some room for improvement (to be kind to the rookie chief.)
For starters– take the starters! For a former pitcher and a former pitching coach, Farrell seems rather lacking in confidence in most of his pitchers… and far too confident in one or two. Either that or he knows pitchers like pitching so very much that he makes it his personal goal to run every single pitcher out to the mound every last game. As noted here before, the Jays have had at times a ridiculous nine dudes in the bullpen. That is too many. Or should be, yet somehow they still seem to be worn out much of the time, no doubt since they do lead the league in innings pitched. Granted, all in all, the starting staff have been lacklustre, but even when they’re great , they’re given an early pass to the showers. Take Ricky Romero’s last game against the Yankees. Romero was sailing along, keeping the Yankees off balance with a fantastic changeup that just dropped out of reach over the plate. Yet after 7 innings and 100 pitches, he was done. Casey Jannssen came out, then Mark Rzepcynski popped out for his daily visit and then Frank francisco was trotted out and quickly became a Bronx fan’s best friend, throwing the game (and Romero’s win) away.
Today, Brandon morrow, making his first start with JP Arencibia behind the plate, looked like the Morrow of last year, was no-hitting the Sox into the 5th, flying through 7 innings… then told to leave. Predictably, the bullpen (assisted by a couple of bad defensive plays, one by the pitcher Rzepcynski himself) threw the game away. According to Sportsnet TV, Farrell today told reporters that he was going to go with a “bullpen by committee” and not have a steady closer, was going to ‘evaluate” each situation, but that is what he said last month before going to Frank Francisco every save situation, letting Francisco bounce balls in the dirt or alternately run them across the plate at 87 right in the hitter’s wheelhouse and quickly run up and earned run average of over 6.00 . Rauch has been better, and more aggressive in his approach to challenge hitters, than Francisco, but still lacking. Jason Frasor has been a closer in the past and probably deserves a try, but first and foremost, maybe what’s needed is a bit more confidence in the starting pitchers so the bullpen won’t be constantly stretched to its limits. Roy Halladay has 6 (or is it 7?) complete games this year. The Jays pitchers combined have zero. Tell us again how good that trade was for Toronto?
Another Farrell experiment that needs adjusting is hitting Corey Patterson out in the #2 slot, right in front of Jose Bautista. Tonight again proves that’s a lose/lose scenario. Patterson can hit reasonably well, and has speed. That however is the problem. He gets on first with a nice single, then automatically wants to steal second. Problem one is that though speedy, Patterson isn’t all that good at picking his spots and stealing. He’s already been thrown out five times this year. Meaning one less runner on base for Bautista to drive in. Or, he does get his SB, slowly running his career odometer past 200 SB, and is happily perched on second… allowing the opposition pitcher to automatically and intentionally walk Bautista, as Humber did tonight in the 8th for the White Sox, thereby taking the bat out of Toronto’s best hitter’s hands. We need a guy who can hit but doesn’t run hitting ahead of Jose. Best choice on the current roster: JP Arencibia.
All in all, Farrell’s done alright for a guy learning his trade. But he’ll need to pick up on the obvious mistakes, and correct them soon, if he is to have a chance to make sophomore mistakes.