Another game in which the bats struggle. Aside from missing our ailing MVP (and some questionable lineup construction) the simple fact of the matter is that the lineup is struggling from top to bottom. What can be done? You can’t make hitters hit when they are slumping, there is no magic pill for that. On top of that our staff is also in a bit of a collective slump – we have seen several games lately where the game slips away with poor pitching through the middle innings. Working backwards over the last two series in innings 4 through 7 the Jays pitchers have given up 6, 4, 2, 7, 2, and 7 runs. This works out to an average of 4.6 runs against through the middle of the game. When you are not hitting you are just not going to win ball games this way and not surprisingly we are 2-4 in those games. While the Jays will certainly need the bats to turn around to make (and ultimately go deep in) the playoffs in the meantime we can try to stop the bleeding and keep our currently anaemic offence in the games. How? We can move Sanchez to the pen. Yes I also thought we were done with this topic, he is a starter – right? Yes he is. And we will need him to start game 1 of any playoff series we are lucky enough to find ourselves in. He is already skipping his start this time through the rotation so when he comes back I see more value in having him available every 2-3 games for 1-2 innings as needed to keep us in games that are all too often slipping away right now. We have to make the playoffs for him to pitch game 1 and it looks like doing so might involve some creative thinking.
So JD has the night off… again. For the last couple of weeks I have been saying he has been playing hurt whether he admits it or not, and I’ll take the full Tampa series without him to have a chance of having a better version of him through the last 17 games. He is 0’fer the last week and not his usual self at 3rd either… so despite how it might sound we are not suffering going with Barney or Goins at 3rd and batting 9th vs having reigning MVP JD on the field. But what about the top of the order? Gibbons just released the lineup and we largely have the status quo (Travis 1st with Eddie, Jose, and Tulo 3-5), but with the curious change of Saunders batting second to replace JD. This is the second time in the 3 games JD has been out that the lineup card has been filled out this way (the first time Russ was catching so Tulo actually batted 6th behind Russ). No thank you. Yes Saunders is a good story this year. Yes Saunders is our only really quality LH batter. However, lets face reality…. Saunders is slashing.190/.288/.676 OPS over the second half and has a career of being, well, Saunders. I would rather have Saunders 5th or 6th and any of the 3 batters currently after him batting 2nd. Lets take a look at the 5th batter tonight who has also been the Jays hottest hitter through the first part of September, Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo is slashing.287/.344/.817 in the second half and has been hotter than that through the last 2 weeks – and largely without the type of protection which Saunders *has* had often batting in front of both Russ and Tulo. And lets not forget Tulo has had a career of being Troy Tulowitzki – no comparison between the two in that regard. So lets fill out the lineup… the one thing Jose has had going for him lately is good ABs and his OBP… lets go with him leading off. No arguing how well Travis has played and he is a great contact hitter, so lets slot him second. How about we put Tulo next and see what happens with Eddie and Russ behind him? Now we can go with Saunders and fill out the order from there And seriously – all things being equal, as Jays fans do we want Saunders having more ABs than Tulo (or Eddie, Russ, or Jose for that matter) in any key games down the stretch? I don’t think so. The bats are struggling so lets get the few hitters that have been hot the most ABs and best chance to be successful that we can.