Team Record – 14 – 12 (.538)
A decent enough month, highlighted by a sweep of the critically-lauded Nationals. Despite having a winning record, two disquieting things marked June. First, they actually posted a negative run differential, giving up 115 runs while scoring only 109. this could be seen as a “glass half full” situation, because obviously Toronto is winning their share of close games this year (and if losing are often blown out). Secondly, despite posting a winning record, they actually fell in standings to fourth due to a surprisingly hot Tampa squad.
Player of the Month – Randal Grichuk
Teoscar Hernandez had a good month as well and Kendrys Morales showed himself worthy of the DH role (.277 average, 4 homers, .482 slugging) to my surprise, Grichuk showed why the Jays were so hot for him in the off-season. After two disasterously bad months, he showed off Gold Glove-caliber “D” similar to his next-door neighbor on the field, Kevin Pillar and he’s started to hit. After an incredibly bad .106 average at the start of June, he put up a better-than-respectable .294 with 8 homers, 20 RBI and a slugging percentage well north of .600! If he can keep this up, he might change my thinking – and perhaps the team’s- and make the likes of Anthony Alford at AAA expendable.
Pitcher of the Month – Marco Estrada
Returning to the form that made him so popular and important in 2015-16, Mr. Changeup was solid in all 5 starts, going just 2-1 but having a great 2.34 ERA through the 30 2/3 innings , with a 4:! strikeout to walk ratio. Unfortunately for us fans, his finally showing the “real” Marco again might speed up his departure as allegedly several teams are calling about his availibility. The past 2 month’s winner, JA Happ, was a worthy runner-up, being 3-0 through his 5 starts, with a 3.16 ERA… although that streak of star tossing came to an end today, on Canada Day with him being hammered by the Tigers.
Story of the Month – Pearce Trade
One of those “context” stories. Outfielder Steve Pearce was traded to Boston at month’s end for a seemingly decent Dominican infielder (hitting well but perhaps disturbingly only in A-ball at age 23). Pearce had a good month once he got back off the DL, but was fully expendable to the Jays given that Grichuk (see above) was playing great, Pillar’s Pillar in the outfield and Curtis Granderson is rejuvenated of late (a .288 average and 5 HR in the month) meaning Steve might get little playing time before the trade deadline anyway, and is a free agent at year’s end. However, out of context, it is seen as indicating the Jays are willing to throw in the towel and get rid of almost anyone on the roster in the name of “rebuild”… not an encouraging thought for fans, even if we are all ready for a look at Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Cavan Biggio in the “bigs”.
What will July bring? All we can say for certain is no Toronto player starting the All Star game in Washington! Here’s hoping for a return to .500 overall and a return to the middle of the AL East.