Toronto Blue Jays: Three Lousy Starts, Three Straight Loses


Toronto Blue Jays: Three Lousy Starts, Three Straight Loses

The all-star break is only one week away, but I’m sure that feels likely an eternity to the Toronto Blue Jays right now. I don’t think their fading playoff hopes can last that long.

Jul 2, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Matt Boyd (46) walks off the field after being relieved during the first inning in a game against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

After cruising through June with a record of 18-9, the Jays have dropped three of their last four games to start July. On its own, this wouldn’t be enough to cause alarm – minor losing streaks are impossible to avoid in a 162-game season – but it’s the manner in which the Jays have lost those games that speaks to deeper troubles.

We can blame the defence and offence in part for these loses – the Jays have committed five errors in their last four games while their bats have been late to the show in each of the last three games – but the real blame rests squarely at the feet of Matt Boyd, Drew Hutchison and R.A. Dickey.

Jul 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons (5) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (36) in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

All three starters spotted the opposition to early and big leads in the last three games, and they’ve put added pressure on an already over-taxed bullpen to pick up the slack. Boyd, for example, exited Thursday’s game without recording a single out. Hutchison lasted 4.2 innings yesterday while Dickey went 5.2 innings today – that’s not good enough.

In other words, the starting rotation has gone 10.1 innings over the past three games, forcing the bullpen to counter with 16.2 innings of unexpected work – a heavy and unhealthy workload for a middle-of-the-pack bullpen.

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We can see the added workload starting to take an effect on the relief corps through the various moves made the team in the last few days to help keep the bullpen supplied with fresh arms. We can also see it in Steve Delabar, who’s pitched in four games (2.2 innings, 88 pitches in total) over the past week after enjoying four days of rest.

Delabar has been tagged for five runs (all earned) in his last two appearances, tossing 65 futile pitches in the process. He’ll probably get a few days of rest now, but this’ll only put more pressure on the other arms in the bullpen.

Jun 24, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Steve Delabar (50) is congratulated by catcher Dioner Navarro (30) after the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Toronto Blue Jays win 1-0 in the twelfth inning. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If this overall trend continues, it’ll see the Jays enter the second half of the season with a bullpen that is quickly breaking under the weight of a largely ineffective rotation. We know Mark Buehrle is good for 6-7 innings of work, but it’s a complete crapshoot after him.

For now, the pitching woes haven’t really hurt the Jays since everyone else in the American League East, minus the New York Yankees, seems incapable of stringing together a handful of wins. However, the risk is that the Yankees are slowly building themselves a cushion and separating themselves from the rest of the pack.

Things have been bad, but with Marco Estrada and Buehrle on the mound over the next two days, the bullpen might get a temporary reprieve. Tuesday is a completely different situation, however, with no named starter at the moment (who will the Jays recall for the spot start?). Having said this, I bet Delabar, Aaron Loup and company will make an appearance – if we’re being honest, the Jays pitchers are at least predictable for this.

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