OK, so the kids have cooled down.
It doesn’t look like Adam Lind is going to bat .400 in 2009.
That being said, the Blue Jays have kept it rolling through the second week of the season. They are headed into an off day leading the American league East with a scorching 10-3 record.
The Jays much to the surprise of many pundits including myself have been getting quality starts from many of the question marks they had to begin with on the mound.
Young Ricky Romero has started strong this season posting two wins, no loses with an ERA of 1.71. In what is becoming a very Romero-like effort, he pitched seven complete shutout innings on Sunday to cap the week. The rookie struck out six and only walked two. That brings his season totals to 14 strikeouts against only four walks in 21 innings.
That was critical as it followed an afternoon game where the bullpen tossed six-and-two-thirds of one-hit scoreless baseball to hold down the fort until Lyle Overbay blasted a two-run walk-off home run in the 12th inning.
The solid starts the Blue Jays have been getting seems to have gone unnoticed throughout most of the start of the year as the focus has been on the offense and it’s ability to score runs in bunches.
During a four game set in Minnesota the Jays offense proved they don’t need to be in their dome to be hot.
From Tuesday to Thursday, the Blue Bird scored more than eight runs three times and combined to score 31 runs in four games. What few people were paying attention to was the fact that the runs against were six, three, two, and two. So other than one rough outing by Jesse Litsch that landed him on the disabled list until late May, the pitching has been stellar.
How long the kids can keep it up for is unclear as Purcey, Richmond, and Romero don’t have any track record to go on. What we do know is that we said the same thing about Marcum, Litsch, and McGowan.
The Blue Jays pitching staff has been severely underrated so far in this young season. Opponents are batting a combined .233 vs. The Starters and the Bullpen. They have an ERA collective of 3.75 and a staff WHIP of .856.
The Blue Jays have been excellent thus far, so why are people not buying into the results?
Two issues have come up but they haven’t really hurt the Blue Jays yet.
Save conversion: The Jays have managed to convert only three of five save opportunities in 2009. BJ Ryan was a concern coming out of spring training. So far he has converted two of three saves, but his ERA is a whopping 7.71 and opponents are batting .389 against the closer in four-and-two-thirds innings work. Also a cause for concern is the fact that Ryan has walked more batters (four) than he has struck out so far (three).
The Blue Jays keep towing the company line with Cito Gaston repeatedly saying that Ryan was his guy and that his closers job is safe. If the Blue Jays keep handing the closer leads of five runs every couple days just to get him work that may be the case. That being said, Ryan hasn’t looked the same since he tried to convince everyone nothing was wrong after blowing back to back saves to the Yankees last July.
The other issues are the lack of production out of Alex Rios in the No. 3 hole. Rios is batting a scary .207 with a .277 OBP. In 58 at-bats, Rios has generated only four extra base hits, and 12 hits overall. He has managed only six RBI, and some would argue that the hot stick of Aaron Hill has artificially lowered this number, but I would look back at Rios for the answers. He’s also struck out 14 times in 14 games and walked only six times. That makes no mention of the ball he flat out dropped yesterday and the one that hit him in the glove in Minnesota.
The Jays have definitely been the class of the American League thus far. They have had some tremendous performances out their young players. The only question marks so far have been Rios and Ryan but so far so good because the Jays are sitting on the top of the AL East.