Happy beginning of July, and happy Canada Day to all the Canadian Blue Jays’ fans! June is now over, which means it’s time for another month’s recap here at In Alex We Trust. The Blue Jays had their first losing month of the year, going 13 and 14, after having 12–11 and 15–13 months in April and May, respectively. Of course, this is due in part to interleague play, which are games that the Blue Jays seem to always lose.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the month that was:
Unless you were living under a rock for the past 30 days—or if you just don’t follow baseball north of the border—you know that injuries plagued Toronto starters this month. All but one of our five starting pitchers suffered injuries, with 3 of those injuries being long term. And the only un-injured starting pitcher was not good at all this month. Overall, June was not kind to the starters
Brandon Morrow was the first of the starters to go down, leaving the game on June 11 against the Washington Nationals after throwing just 9 pitches. The official diagnosis is a strained left oblique, and he’ll be out until at least August. A huge blow, consider how well he was pitching this year. The second pitcher to become injured was Kyle Drabek, who left his June 13 start—also against the Nats—after hearing a “pop” in his elbow. On June 18th it was announced that he would undergo his second Tommy John surgery, ending his 2012 season and much of his 2013 season. Drew Hutchison is the last of the starters lost to long term injuries. He also left after 9 pitches, and is currently on the 60-day disabled list with right ulnar collateral ligament sprain.
Of course, with all the injuries, it should be expected that the rotation would not be as good. And they weren’t. The Jays had to fill the rotation with minor league journeymen and long relievers and it showed. For June, Toronto starters were 7–10 with a 5.60 ERA, 5.35 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 1.59 HR/9 and a .282 batting average against in 141.1 innings pitched—among the worst in the Majors in all of the categories.
June’s Best Starting Pitcher:
This is a tough choice, because generally I want the Starter of the Month to have pitched at least 20 innings, but for June only two pitchers had at least that many innings pitched: Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez, and neither were great. So, I’m lowering the bar for this month and saying that the innings requirement is 14 innings, because that’s what Drew Hutchison pitched, and he is most deserving of the “award”.
He was really starting to look good, and then he had to go and get injured, and may not even pitch again this year. For the month he went 1–1 with a 3.86 ERA, 8.36 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, 1.93 HR/9, 1.07 WHIP and a .222 batting average against in 14 innings. Get well soon, Hutch.
Due to all the injuries, the bullpen had to work extra hard this month and some of the relievers even had a start or two. Luckily, they pitched pretty decent in the 96.2—fourth most in the MLB for June—innings in which they were called upon. In those innings, they went 6–4 with 4 saves, 3.44 ERA, 8.84 K/9, 2.98 BB/9, 1.21 HR/9, 1.26 WHIP and .245 batting average against—all pretty close to league average.
Casey Janssen is doing really well in the closer’s role after being put there because Francisco Cordero was sucking and is probably on the verge of being DFA’d. Sergio Santos has still not returned from injury, and Darren Oliver is showing he was well worth the money the Blue Jays paid in the off season to acquire him.
June’s Best Relief Pitcher
This is a much easier decision than Starter of the Month, because there were 6 relievers that qualified and only one really stood out from the crowd. That one is Casey Janssen, who was absolutely lights out all month. He pitched in 10 games for a total of 10 innings, and collected 4 saves while allowing just one run on six hits and zero walks. Yes, that’s right, Casey didn’t walk a single batter all month long (granted, it was only 10 innings, but still). He also struck out 12 batters and held batters to a .167/.167/.222 batting line to secure a sparkling 0.90 ERA (not as good as his 0.66 FIP) and a 0.60 WHIP and 58.3 GB%.
After reading of all the pitching woes, you probably feel pretty depressed. Fortunately for you, Toronto batters were not nearly as depressing. In fact, they were probably much the exact opposite, hitting .269/.335/.460 and scored 143 runs. Their 43 home runs rank second in the Majors, behind only the Yankees (who, as we all know quite well, buy all their power).
The best series offensively this month was probably the interleague set that the Blue Jays played in Milwaukee—which was also probably the poorest pitched game I have witnessed in a while. So, although they did lose that series, it certainly was not because of a lack of runs. The Jays had 35 hits, 7 walks and scored 19 runs, 10 of which were home runs. In the second game of that series, Rasmus, Bautista and Encarnacion went back to back to back with home runs for the first time since 2005.
Brett Lawrie also had quite the series in both the Milwaukee and Miami interleague series, hitting .320/.414/.720 in those six games, including two doubles, one triple, two home runs, one hit by pitch and two stolen bases.
Batter of the Month
This is almost as tough of a choice as Starter of the Month, but not for the same reasons. With a few exceptions, it could be argued that any of the starting nine would be worthy of Batter of the Month. But Jose Bautista was just monsterous in June, so I’ll have to give it to him for the second month in a row. Joey Bats hit .271/.408/.750 with 14 home runs, 30 runs batted in, 22 base on balls and 16 strikeouts. As of July 1st, Jose is on a 53 home run, 129 runs batted in pace.
I’ll also give honourable mentions to Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus. Brett ‘The Hitman’ Lawrie hit .310/.371/.513 with four home runs, 12 runs batted in and four stolen bases (although he was caught stealing 5 times). Colby ‘Sad Puppy Face’ Rasmus hit .291/.331/.547 with eight home runs (after hitting three in both April and May), 25 runs batted in (after 11 and 10 in April and May, respectively) and a single stolen base. Batting Brett and Colby first and second has been the greatest decision that Farrell has made this year.
The Jays are still in last place in the American League East, despite having a winning record. And unfortunately, it will probably only go down from here unless AA acquires some pitchers to replace all the injured ones.