Tuesday, May 26, 2015

GIFS: Josh Donaldson Saves the Day


Josh Donaldson is the best. Not really much else to say other than enjoy these GIFS which encapsulate the excitement of Donaldson's walk-off home run.

Images via Getty Images/Footage courtesy of Sportsnet

Noteworthy Numbers from Drew Hutchison's Complete Game Shutout


Over the years, the Toronto Blue Jays have been privy to some phenomenal single-game pitching performances. Whether they've been from aces like Roy Halladay or Dave Stieb, a well-pitched game is always fun to watch.

Drew Hutchison put forth the best start of his career, and it could very well end up being the best pitching performance of 2015 by a Blue Jays starter. He picked up the elusive "Maddux" by going the distance and shutting down the White Sox on just 96 pitches.

Here are just a few noteworthy numbers from Drew Hutchison's incredible start last night versus the Chicago White Sox.

Number of first pitch strikes thrown - 17

Working ahead was one of the big keys to Drew Hutchison's success against the Chicago White Sox. He managed to throw first pitch strikes to 17 of the 29 batters he faced, which translated into a 59% first pitch strike percentage.

Number of three ball counts seen - 4

In total, Drew Hutchison faced only 29 batters en route to his complete game shutout. Incredibly, only 4 of them managed to see a three ball count.

Times a Batter Got Past First Base - 1

Once the Blue Jays provided Hutchison with a four-run cushion, was there ever really any question that the game was in danger? The White Sox only reached second base once the entire game.

After Gordon Beckham reached second base in the first inning, the White Sox didn't make it past first the duration of the game.

Number of Strikes Thrown - 70

Drew Hutchison simply was the model of efficiency against the White Sox. Of the 96 total pitches he threw, 70 of them were for strikes. 73% of his pitches were either called strikes or were fouled off.

Least Number of Pitches Thrown Per Inning - 7 (Twice)

At times this season, Drew Hutchison has laboured through innings. Many times, he's gone into double digit pitches during innings, which has led to increased pitch counts very early in the game.

In the 6th and 9th inning against the White Sox, Hutchison escaped the inning by only throwing seven pitches. Yes, seven.

Balls That Made It Into the Outfield - 7

Hutchison is known predominantly as a strikeout pitcher, so it's not all that surprising he didn't let very many balls even make it to the outfield. Just 7 in total either squeaked through the infield or were fly balls.

GameScore - 87

While his performance may not rank up there with the "best of the best" in Blue Jays history, Drew Hutchison capped off one of the better starts in recent memory.

His GameScore of 87 is now the best of his career, and actually one-ups the three-hit complete game shutout he threw last season against the Texas Rangers when he went toe-to-toe with Yu Darvish.

Balls in Play - 20

Aside from Hutchison's tendency to get ahead of hitters, the other key to his success last night was his ability to put the ball in play and let his fielders take care of the rest. The Jays defense was solid as 20 balls were put into play off of pitches by Hutchison.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Is Jose Bautista's Injury Worse Than We Think?


It's been nearly five weeks; five weeks since Bautista attempted to throw out Delmon Young at first base. Five weeks since Jose Bautista has played in the field. And for the past five weeks, the Blue Jays have been looking for answers.

Over a month after the initial diagnosis of a shoulder strain and Jose Bautista has yet to field his position in right field. Although he's been contributing offensively as the team's DH (.253/.387/.470 in 26 games), the club has sorely missed him in the outfield.

To onlookers, it might appear a little suspicious when a player is still able to hit and yet can't reportedly even pick up a baseball ... let alone throw it. One thing is for certain; Jose Bautista is not playing at 100%.

If given the choice, I think most would take Jose Bautista at 75% rather than not at all. But since he's been the predominant DH for the past five weeks, the team has been forced to come up with several alternatives on the diamond, most which have not panned out.

The absence of Jose Bautista in right field has created a huge domino effect. Since Bautista has been relegated to DH, that's forced Edwin Encarnacion to be the everyday first baseman, which in turn has left Justin Smoak on the bench.

And in the outfield, the Blue Jays defensive alignment of Valencia/Colabello/Pillar/Carrera has left a lot to be desired. So the Jays have learned their lesson the hard way; even having Bautista in the lineup has created several holes.

It's also kind of worrisome that Jose Bautista's symptoms really have not improved over the last five weeks. There hasn't been any timetable on his return to the field; mostly his status as an outfielder has been in limbo.

The latest update was that he received a cortisone shot on Sunday, but to me that really only seems like a band-aid solution for what may be a bigger problem at hand.

Do the Blue Jays know something we don't? Is Bautista's injury worse than we think?

If it were as simple as having Jose go on the disabled list and rehab his ailing shoulder, the Blue Jays surely would've done that by now. The club hasn't indicated Bautista suffered any structural damage to his shoulder, but having him hit surely hasn't aided in his recovery.

My fear is that Jose Bautista's injury is worse than a simple shoulder strain. And the reason he's still sticking around is either A.) Bautista himself is insistent on staying in the lineup and willing to do anything to contribute, or B.) the club knows more than what's been reported.

Losing a hitter the calibre of Jose Bautista would be detrimental to the Blue Jays season, and I can certainly see why they'd be hesitant to put him on the disabled list; whether it be for the minimum 15 days or even longer. But with Bautista playing hurt, it scares me that they may have done more harm than good.

Cortisone injections are not indicative of a player on the mend; they're given to athletes who are playing through a great deal of pain and need some much-needed relief. In the case of Jose Bautista, it only appears to be a temporary fix with four months left in the regular season.

It isn't as simple as patching up Jose Bautista up for the home stretch of the regular season. The Blue Jays need Bautista to be healthy and contribute both at the plate and in the field for the final two-thirds of the season.

In hindsight, it might have been better to shut down Jose Bautista and target a 4-6 week timetable for his return. However, for a team that had already lost so many of their key players to injury, one really can't fault the Jays for doing what they did.

Given the overall poor play of the American League East right now, this is an opportune juncture where the Blue Jays absolutely need to make a definitive decision on the status of Jose Bautista.

If Bautista were to hypothetically spend 4-6 weeks on the disabled list, having Jose Reyes and Devon Travis back might slightly negate losing contributions from their starting right fielder over the coming weeks.

For some strange reason, it almost seems easier to plan a lineup without Jose Bautista in it, rather than find a way to shoehorn guys like Chris Colabello and Ezequiel Carrera into lineup and around an ailing Jose Bautista.

I don't question Jose Bautista's toughness for a second. Even with a shoulder injury, he's still managed to crank out home runs and contribute better than league-average offense.

Surgery is obviously a last resort in this scenario, but the lack of progress in five weeks since Bautista's initial injury makes me wonder whether the club is just biding time. Unfortunately for a team looking to contend, time is not a liberty they can afford.

Image via Getty Images

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