May is now over, which means it's time to take a look at the Blue Jays and how they did this month. Toronto had 15 wins and 13 losses, to make it the second consecutive month that the Jays finished with a winning record. If they can do this every month, they'll make the playoffs (that is if the AL East evens out and Baltimore returns to their familiar last place spot).
Unfortunately, Toronto's starting five did not pitch as well as they did in April. Now, that's not to say that our starters were terrible, because they weren't. Looking at the stats, the Blue Jays rotation was pretty much league average. There were some games this month when the starters were just awful. Ricky Romero was probably the worst pitcher this month, as he struggled with command. In his start on May 13th in Minnesota, he gave up 5 walks and didn't strikeout any batters, and on May 23rd in Tampa, he allowed a career high 7 base on balls while also striking out 7 batters. He's starting to look better, and in his last start of the month against Baltimore he went 6 strong innings, allowing 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk and 7 strikeouts to get the win.
The starters also had a tough series in Texas, highlighted by Brandon Morrow's shortest career start—0.2 innings, 5 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, no strikeouts. Overall, the starters had a pretty average month, with a 14-10 W/L, 4.55 ERA, 7.03 K/9, 4.38 BB, and a 1.42 WHIP in 166.1 innings pitched. Their biggest weakness was their lack of control; they had 81 walks, which was the most in the Majors by a starting staff for the month of May, ahead of the Indians' 80 walks. Their 10 wild pitches in May also ranks worst in the Majors.
One thing the starters did do well, however, was keeping the ball in the yard. Their 0.97 HR/9 ranks 9th in the Majors, and 3rd in the Americal League. I'm not totally surprised by that though, because we all know the Blue Jays starters are all ground ball pitchers.
May's Best Starting Pitcher:
Brandon Morrow was easily this month's top starter. In fact, it wasn't even close, as Brandon outpitched everyone on the staff by leaps and bounds. Honestly, he wasn't just Toronto's best starter this month, but one of the best starters in the Majors this month. He's showing us that he truly does have ace-potential, and will probably put up Justin Verlander-type stats in the next few years, if not this year. This month he pitched to a 3.50 ERA, which doesn't look nearly as good as his 2.00 FIP, by the way. Brandon also had 10.25 strikeouts-per-nine innings this month, and held opposing batters to a .186 average. I'll also mention that he didn't allow any home runs this month. None. Zero. In 36 innings pitched, no opposing batter took him yard. He was absolutely dominant in May, and he's the obvious choice for Pitcher of the Month.
The Blue Jays relievers actually out-pitched the starters this month, but not by much. Since a lot of the starters struggled to get late into games, the 'pen had to work extra hard this month, and Alex Anthopolous made a bunch a demotions and promotions to get more fresh arms in the bullpen. At one the relievers were so worn out that manager John Farrell put Jeff Freakin' Mathis in to a game to pitch an inning—a runless inning, by the way. Yes, Jeff Mathis has a career 0.00 ERA, and is my vote for Cy Young this year. Anyways, as I was saying, the relievers had to work hard, and pitched 153.2 innings in May, which was surprisingly about league average for the month.
Our saviour, Sergio Santos, has still not returned from an injury, so Francisco Cordero started the month in the closer position, but after getting lit up in Oakland, John Farrell moved Casey Janssen to the 9th inning. And Casey did not disappoint the Blue Jay faithful, going 5 for 5 in save opportunities, while also collecting a 1.59 ERA in 11 and a third innings pitched.
Darren Oliver continues to look great, even at the ripe old age of 41 years. He pitched 10 innings in May, allowing just one run while striking out 8 and holding batters to a .189 batting average. Other bright spots out of the bullpen were Luis Perez and Carlos Villanueva. Luis pitched 10.2 innings, striking out 11 with a 2.53 ERA. Carlos Villanueva had the longest relief appearance this month, after Morrow couldn't get out of the first inning in Texas. Villanueva responded well to it, pitching 14 innings, with 18 strikeouts, 7 walks and a 3.86 ERA.
May's Best Relief Pitcher
This is going to be a tougher decision, because the relievers all (except a few) put up pretty similar stats, and most pitched pretty well. But, since I have to pick someone, I'm going to go with Darren Oliver, since he truly pitched great. He pitched in 11 games in May, for a total of 10 innings. He allowed just 1 run on 7 hits and 4 walks while striking out 11. Honourable mention for Reliever of the Month goes to Jeff Mathis. Just because.
Sadly, the Blue Jays have still not really lived up to expectations for this year. We all thought the Jays would be monsters offensively, and pitching would be the area in need of improvement. Two months into the season, however, and it looks like it's now the offense that needs to perform better. While they did look better in May, they still only hit .251/.308/.436 as a team, which ranks in the lower half of all MLB teams in May.
The only areas of offense in which they are one of the better big league teams is in batting for power and run production, which are two very important aspects of the game. For the month, they were tied with the Orioles for most home runs in the Majors, with both AL East teams hitting 45 of them. For the month, the Jays crossed home plate 144 times, good for 6th place in the MLB.
Edwin Encarnacion is one of the reasons why the Jays are getting so much production on offense. The designate hitter/utility player has 17 home runs so far this year, which ties his home run total for all of last year. While EE's .234 average in May is way below the .322 he hit in April, his other numbers remain fairly similar. He hit 9 home runs this month, which is one more than he hit in April. His RBI and run totals remain pretty much the same, with 21 and 14 in May, respectively.
The month was filled with a surprises. The Blue Jays sent Adam Lind to Triple-A Las Vegas, put him on waivers, and removed him from the 40-man roster. They called up Yan Gomes, who played in 8 games with the Blue Jays, hitting .227/.296/.500 with 2 dingers before being sent back to Vegas. Toronto also sent Eric Thames to Triple-A, and called up Mike McCoy and David Cooper. I'm sure they'll send McCoy back down once Travis Snider is off the disabled list.
But, the biggest surprise of the month was power-hitting Rajai Davis. Rajai hit 3 home runs, which is a lot for him, considering he had hit only 12 of them in his entire career coming into the season. In 40 May plate appearances, Rajai hit .308/.325/.590, with 3 homers as previously mentioned, as well as driving in 7 runs and steal 5 bases in 5 tries. I say it's a few days until John Farrell bats Davis cleanup.
May's Best Batter
It would be Rajai Davis, but since he only had 40 plate appearances, and players need at least 80 in these rankins, I can't choose him. Maybe he'll get it next month, but for May I'll have to go with Jose Bautista, who is finally starting to look like the hitter he has been for the previous couple of years.
Jose played in all 28 games this month, and .257/.342/.552 with 9 homers, 22 runs batted in, and 13 walks. While it's not what we were expecting from Bautista, it's still very good, and Joey Bats is now on pace to hit 40 home runs this year, which will still be top 5 in the big leagues. And really, that's all we ask for from Jose Bautista.
The Blue Jays are now 27-25, which is good for last place in the American League East. Yes, I'm serious. They are 2 games above .500 and are tied with Boston for last place. That's just the why the East is right now, with only 3 games seperating the first and last place teams. Right now it's the tighest divison in baseball, just beating out the National League East, which has 3.5 games seperating first and last. Thank God for the extra wild card.