Where Are Those Happy Days? They Seem So Hard to Find (Boston Red Sox (42-31) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (40-32))
Oh, don’t mind me, just setting the tone. It’s not me putting pressure on anyone. Certainly not regarding pitching and/or the acquisition of new pitching. Ross.
There’s certainly much to talk about regarding the Blue Jays’ pitching staff’s inability to back up what has ultimately been a pretty solid offensive performance for the week. And much of it has already been said in blogs, op-eds, professional sports news outlets, and of course, insufferable comment threads throughout the fandoms’ network.
The pitching woes will definitely get their day in the sun here, but it will have to wait a bit, because as of the release time of this post, I will be on my way to Edmonton International Airport in the metropolitan hub of Nisku, Alberta to catch a flight to Vancouver for the week. I don’t know what it is about me fleeing Alberta whenever the season gets bleak this year, but I could make a habit of this.
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The good news? George Springer will not be missing time on the IL, and was back in the lineup on Sunday. The bad news? Reliever Yimi García is out with a strained back, dealing another blow to a reeling Blue Jays pitching staff. Speaking of which, we didn’t talk about it last time, but Nate Pearson is out indefinitely after straining his lat on his rehab assignment, putting to bed the idea of relying on him to help the bullpen anytime soon. June is just a fucking terrible month.
On the plus side, help is on the way! Kind of! On Monday afternoon, Jon Heyman reported that the Toronto Blue Jays had signed 39-year-old veteran relief pitcher Sergio Romo to a Major League deal, shoring up the relief depth and further jeopardizing my likelihood of making my flight on time. Presumably, the Jays will be paying him the league minimum salary, with the Seattle Mariners, Romo’s former team, covering the rest. A spot on the 40-man will need to be opened up.
A terrific move, am I right? Tell ‘em, Stoets!
Jon Heyman @JonHeymanSergio Romo close to signing an MLB deal with Blue Jays
Longtime baseball fans will best remember Romo from his time as an elite reliever on all three World Series-winning San Francisco Giants teams in the previous decade. Since leaving the Giants after the 2016 season, he’s filled the role of “veteran journeyman reliever” to a tee, bouncing around to multiple teams on short-term deals, never wowing anyone, but usually getting the job done.
Romo signed with the Seattle Mariners on a one-year, two million dollar deal to start the season. His tenure with the M’s was short-lived and abysmal, as he only lasted 17 games and 14.1 innings, posting a 8.16 ERA, 7.87 FIP, and 5.40 xFIP, all career highs. He also has a career-low 16.9 K%, and a 9.2% barrel rate, .289 xBA, .602 xSLG, .386 xwOBA, and 5.81 xERA, his highest marks in the StatCast era. His biggest strength over the last few years had been his ability to limit hard contact with his slider/sinker combo, but the latter pitch is getting smoked, possibly (though certainly not definitively) owing to a slight uptick in usage.
So is he an upgrade for the Jays? Maybe over Jeremy Beasley??? This will certainly not be the only move the front office makes, at least I certainly fucking hope not, but this isn’t exactly a ceiling-raising move ever, more akin to the Joakim Soria and Brad Hand moves last year than a hypothetical move for, say, David Bednar or whoever. Romo shouldn’t (operative term being SHOULDN’T) see much time in high leverage situations with options like Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber, and David Phelps (maybe even Trevor Richards too when he gets back??? Bleak stuff!) ahead of him on the depth chart. He does provide a buffer between the Jays and the murky depths of their relief options, which is a plus, but a difference-making move this need not be.
Otto López, who may actually need to hold someone hostage to get playing time at this point, was optioned back to Buffalo in exchange for catcher Zack Collins, which hopefully makes room for both Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno in the lineup most days. And in better minor league news, pitcher Yosver Zulueta was promoted from High-A Vancouver to Double-A New Hampshire. Which is a good move developmentally, he’s been killing it in Vancouver, but also rude of them, because I’m pretty sure I was slated to see him pitch Tuesday night at Nat Bailey Park.
Hitter: Alejandro Kirk (3)
Honourable Mentions: Matt Chapman, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Cavan Biggio
Pitcher: Alek Manoah (10)
Honourable Mentions: Maximo Castillo, Trent Thornton, Matt Gage
Best Bird Standings:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.- 4
Alejandro Kirk- 3
Bo Bichette- 3
Santiago Espinal- 3
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.- 2
Danny Jansen- 2
George Springer- 2
Cavan Biggio- 1
Teoscar Hernández- 1
Matt Chapman- 1
Zack Collins - 1
Alek Manoah- 10
Kevin Gausman- 5
Yusei Kikuchi- 3
Ross Stripling- 2
José Berríos- 2
Jordan Romano- 1
Monday, June 27 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. MST)
Connor Seabold (season debut)
Kevin Gausman (3.19 ERA, 1.74 FIP, 26.1 K%, 3.9 BB%, 42.7 Groundball%)
Tuesday, June 28 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. MST)
Michael Wacha (2.34 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 18.5 K%, 7.3 BB%, 40.6 Groundball%)
Ross Stripling (3.08 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 20.3 K%, 5.2 BB%, 53.2 Groundball%)
Wednesday, June 29 (7 p.m. EST/5 p.m. MST)
Nick Pivetta (3.25 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 24.0 K%, 8.1 BB%, 34.0 Groundball%)
Alek Manoah (2.05 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 22.8 K%, 5.2 BB%, 37.7 Groundball%)
Pythagorean Record: 43-30
Season Series vs. Blue Jays: 2-5
Record since the last series vs. Blue Jays: 34-19
Last 10 games: 8-2
Great. Just fucking great. Exactly who we wanted to see right now.
Best (Healthy) Players in the Series:
Rafael Devers, Third Base, .330/.386/.606, 176 wRC+
Xander Bogaerts, Shortstop, .333/.397/.481, 148 wRC+
Nick Pivetta, Starting Pitcher, 3.25 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 24.0 K%, 8.1 BB%, 34.0 Groundball%
Michael Wacha, Starting Pitcher, 2.34 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 18.5 K%, 7.3 BB%, 40.6 Groundball%
J.D. Martinez, Designated Hitter/Left Field, .324/.394/.519, 157 wRC+