|Daniel Norris, one of the Jays' young pitchers, struggled |
mightily in his last outing.
What never seems to "come together" for the Jays is a complete team. They either have pitching but don't have the bats, or they have the bats but don't have the pitching. This year, with 3 virtual rookies in their starting rotation, they don't seem to have the pitching. If you hit 6 home runs in a game as the Jays did last week, you should win. The Jays did not. While the youth movement was serving them well in the beginning of the season, the youthful enthusiasm, as it often does, is wearing out. Not only in the bullpen, but in the field as well, but that's another issue all together.
Leading the AL in walks, it's clear the Jays still have some work to do on the mound, but is it just the talent they are relying on or is it coaching too? Getting beaten 3 out of 4 games by the Rays who had 3/5s of their starting rotation on the DL makes one question coaching. The Rays have consistently produced quality pitching. The fact that they can't hold on to it doesn't really matter, the fact they are producing and winning with a thin bullpen is impressive and high lights the inadequacies of the Jays even more so. With the likes of Castro, Osuna and starters like Norris and Sanchez, the Jays need the coaching to turn these young talents in to major league stars. If Norris is coming out saying he has "dead arm," as he tries to work through the changes in his mechanics, is he really ready to start in the majors? Was he ready to start to begin with?
But if you think the walks are bad, there's more depressing statistics to condemn the Jays' pitching. Perhaps a bigger red flag is that they lead the big leagues in home runs given up - not a stat category any team wants to lead in, particularly when you are loading the bases up with all those walks. Worse yet, to date they've only had one starting pitcher make it through to the 7th inning - one! The last two games for the Jays have seen their starter reach over 30 pitches in the first inning alone, virtually ensuring they will not go deep. This has left their bullpen stretched thin and exploited - as they've faired no better than the starting rotation. Returnees like Brett Cecil continue to underwhelm and disappoint. In fact, it seems like almost yesterday when Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero were the next big starters for the Jays - what happened there? One of them is MIA and the other is flirting with a trip to the minors. Again, I go back to coaching. Who's to say this doesn't happen again with Norris or Sanchez?
And while it's easy to sit back and make these claims, perhaps the person most on the hotseat is Alex Anthropolous, the architect of this team. R.A. Dickey is as unpredictable as his knuckleball. Mark Buerhle is considering retirement and then there are 3 youngsters who desperately need help and guidance. Someone like Sanchez, who has struggled mightily thus far, could really benefit from some time in the 'pen, or better yet, some time starting in the minors. His numbers have not been impressive and what started last season with some solid relief performances has suddenly morphed into overarching expectations that he does not look comfortable with. A pitchers mound is truly the loneliest place in sports and right now, Sanchez looks like he's not yet ready to be on his own, Norris looks like he wants to crawl back in his van and Hutchinson, the best of the rookies, seems like the oldest sibling who's not quite ready to babysit the little ones.
If you want fans across Canada to "Come Together," snapping the longest post season drought in the big leagues is a good place to start. But it all begins with pitching. Go out and get yourself a pitcher, Alex, you really need it, not just to save your job and your season, but to bring Canadian fans together like we all were when Joe Carter swung for the fences.