Toronto Blue Jays: Players who have impressed in spring training

BRADENTON FL- MARCH 3: Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons
BRADENTON FL- MARCH 3: Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons /
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Marco Estrada

While injuries were not a major concern for Estrada, 2017 was a down year for the 10-year veteran. In 33 starts the right-hander had a 10-9 record, posting a 4.98 ERA, and a single season-high 31 home runs, 104 runs and walks (71) despite a career-best 176 strikeouts.

So far this spring, the 34-year-old is trying to reward the Blue Jays loyalty towards him and so far, it has been smooth sailing. In four starts, Estrada has pitched 13 innings posting a 2.08 ERA, 11 strikeouts and a walk.

His spring has gone under the radar mostly because of the attention on Sanchez and Stroman. One pitch that has been reliable for Estrada is his change-up which was an issue for him last season.

It appears that he may have pinpointed mechanical issues with the pitch as speaking with Sportsnet‘s Arden Zwelling.

"“I think my delivery’s right on point right now,” Estrada told Zwelling. “The biggest thing for me is just drifting forward. I’ve just got to make sure I stay back. Especially out of the windup, because there’s a lot more movement. But I feel like I’m right over the rubber, I’m staying back when I need to, and pitches are coming out good.”"

He has also worked on his cutter this spring in order to have more options to pitch with so that he can keep hitters guessing.

"“It actually feels better than it has, to be honest with you,” Estrada told Ben Nicholson-Smith of his cutter. “It’s not really a right-to-left type thing, it’s more of a down-and-to-the-left thing. It’s good for righties. Maybe I’ll get a few more ground balls out of that. I’m not expecting a swing-and-miss, but if they happen it’s great.”"

As a low-velocity pitcher, location and movement in his pitches are vital to Estrada’s success especially if he can keep hitters off track. There is no doubt that he was disappointed with his performance last season but not being traded at the deadline and getting a new contract should make Estrada more comfortable this season.

Russell Martin spoke with Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun about Estrada’s progress spring and had this to say about the veterans needs in order to be successful.

"“Marco’s just Marco, he’s like an artist out there. He just paints,” Martin said of the crafty veteran to Longley. “When he’s on, he’s very stingy with the middle of the plate. He’ll just pick corners. And the change-up is in my opinion probably the best change-up in the game.”"

It is no secret that Estrada’s change-up is the key to success for him and hopefully, he can get that back to the level that he expects to. So far it has looked good for him