Reviewing the Series: #8 Toronto Blue Jays & #9 Los Angeles Dodgers
With the Dodgers series only being a two-gamer I figured I would reward you loyal readers with a bonus two-for-one deal. The Rays were only able to take one of three from the Jays, but were mostly in each game then went on to split with the Dodgers in a short series that was heavy on the offense. Let’s check it out starting with the results of each game:
We traded what should have been blowouts with the Jays in the first two before losing the third and final game with the bats no call, no showing. The series was closer than the matchup tool expected as it favored the Jays in two of the three with the middle game being a coin flip. When two evenly matched teams face each other in a three-game series, well, one of them is going to win two. Unfortunately, the Rays weren’t that team this time.
Against the Dodgers the offense came alive hitting at an above average rate in the first and at a phenomenal level in the second. Unfortunately, the pitching only showed up for one of these, which I will touch on further in a bit. The Rays were fairly solid favorites going into each game, per the tool, but anything can and will happen once you cross the chalk. Tampa Bay played slightly better against a pretty good team (‘s lesser starters). It was nice to see them unleash some frustration in the second game while exposing what is a very soft bullpen for the Dodgers. Here are the batters for the first series:
Logan Forsythe continued his hot ways as the best hitter in this series, but it was nice to see Brad Miller get it going by having a very nice stretch. Additionally, seeing Longoria go from around average or below most of the season to a good bit above was a nice reminder that this team will go as far as he takes them. I recently praised Beckham’s approach as one of the few that is really balanced between the extremes of aggressiveness and passivity. The results will come if he keeps that up, though it will take good outcomes at some point or he may seek to change what should be a good approach. Kiermaier may come across as flashy on defense, but at the plate he has been quietly pretty good with this being another series in the positive column.
The thing that did the Rays in this series was the bottom of the order. The SS Lomo is officially taking on water at this point and may need to draw up the anchor at some point relatively soon. His defense has surprised me as mostly competent, but he’s going to need to hit at some point, because it’s just too easy to rotate guys through the position until something clicks. He wasn’t alone, however, Souza had his worst series and Curt Casali continued to be more bust than boom. Jennings didn’t reach base, again, but he also was hidden pretty effectively as Brandon Guyer started to get the right on right left field plate appearances.
If I’m the Blue Jays I’m starting to get pretty nervous about Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. These are two guys that get a ton of plate appearances and haven’t hit against the Rays or anyone else, for that matter. You can probably throw Tulo in there, as well, and you can’t help but wonder how mad the fans will be if Jeff Hoffman turns into something like Thor-lite after adjusting for the 5,000 feet. Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as the Donaldson and Saunders show continues to torch the Rays every damn time we play them. Joey Bats came into this series with more success than anyone against the Rays, but they did a good job of mostly making him seem super human rather than extra terrestrial. Let’s wrap up this series by looking at the arms:
The starters for the Rays were really freaking good with none better than Jake Odorizzi’s dominating performance. Even more exciting was a pretty good game from Chris Archer where he battled his control before settling in to give a fine performance. Drew Smyly was nearly as good, but we have come to expect that, and should be very happy when it comes.
Yet another series where Erasmo Ramirez comes in to put out fires and then stick around a bit longer. He has been a Godsend to this point as one of the few reliable relievers on this squad, which gets us to why the Rays lost. Yes, the team could stand to score better and that would take some pressure off of the bullpen, but until that day it will stay frustrating to watch great starts turned into losses. No blowup was bigger than the one Alex Colome yielded after having a very strong start to the season. It’s just one game so it’s more letdown than longterm issue, but it still stings. Same story with Enny Romero who had been lights out, but is starting to see those old control demons show their ugly face from time to time. Webb and Eveland have no business coming into a winnable game, which is fine, you need guys like that to soak up outs so that you don’t have to use your good relievers in low leverage. I will say that it was nice to see a good Steve Geltz appearance and Jhan Marinez may be proving to be a weapon if he only pitches competitively to righties.
Their starters pitched deep into games so that they hardly needed their shaky pen. Chavez seems like a guy that we have struggled to hit in the past and that continued into the present. We did bash Happ, while doing very little against the righties Stroman and Sanchez. Seeing the success against their lefty/righty setup guys Cecil and Storen, respetively, gives me hope that we’ll be able to come back on these guys in the future, but you’re probably not going to see much of that against Osuna who is very, very good. On to the Dodgers:
How about we PLAY MORE STEVE PEARCE? I mean seriously all the guy has done is hit and has not been a negative on the defensive side despite already seeing time at three infield positions. Casali earned back some favor with a couple of nice games that emphasized the boom over bust portion of his skillset. Longo kept it going to the point that some might even say he is hot at this point, though you might want to apply that label to Guyer first. Dickerson’s slump carried forth, but he was joined by Logan Forsythe who had the very rare, for him, bad series this year. I’d expect that to be a blip more than the beginning of a trend, but I think he should expect to see more breaking stuff early in the count for a while as pitchers have realized he has to be pitched carefully.
Howie Kendrick could suck for 150 games and then come to town to play the Rays only to put up a huge series. The guy just always seems to hit us. There are several good hitters over there so I’m glad we only see them once every few years. Seager and Puig are going to be terrorizing pitchers for a long time. Those dudes can flat out hit. Here’s the arms:
Another nice Geltz appearance with him acting as a bridge between the starter and the pen. Not a glamorous role, but certainly a necessity. The pen got a ton of exposure this series as Moore threw an absolute clunker and Smyly was only a bit better mostly because he got pulled before the real damage could come. St. Erasmo continued to get guys out even if he allowed his first inherited runner to score on a loose change up that got away to the backstop. More concerning was Romero’s inability to throw a strike as he went walk, single, walk, walk before getting pulled. We need him to be a stud for us, but he can’t do that if he’s walking the world.
Not a whole lot to say about their pitching. They outhit us in the first game to plaster over a below average start from Kazmir and then their offense wasn’t good enough to turn the trick for an even worse Wood. It boggles the mind how a team spending $690 million this year can have such a bad pen, but one glance into the GM booth where they have enough guys to have a hockey scrimmage might give you a clue. It certainly seems like a too many cooks situation, and it doesn’t help matters when the head chef isn’t very good at evaluating talent.