It was not exactly the start the Toronto Blue Jays were hoping for, but the first week of the regular season is in the books. Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey all saw game action, with Reyes appearing in all six games, Dickey making two starts and Johnson appearing in just one.
The Blue Jays own a 2-4 record after dropping two of three to Cleveland and then the Boston Red Sox. Not the greatest start to a season, and hardly what fans were expecting, but things could have been a lot worse.
At the very least, it was an extremely entertaining week. Filled with bat-wielding fans, inappropriate gestures from the crowd, paper airplanes, Jose Bautista’s issue with umpires, a couple wins and twice as many losses.
Although it is a small sample size, here are my grades for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey on their first week as Blue Jays. Grades are based on performance, and without a rubric I can honestly say that they are slightly arbitrary.
Reyes enjoyed a fairly successful opening week at the Rogers Centre where he batted .435 with an on-base percentage of .519. He was also able to steal two bases and hit his first home run of the season against the Red Sox.
Although he was impressive with his bat out of the leadoff spot in all six games, there is plenty of room for improvement in other aspects of his game.
In the second game against the Red Sox, Reyes hit a sharply hit ball to left field that he tried to stretch into a triple. As he rounded second he picked up speed, and the throw from left that skipped the cut off beat Reyes to the bag by about six feet. It was so far from being close that Reyes did not even slide and just continued into the third base dugout after being tagged out.
The next batter up, Emilio Bonifacio, proceeded to hit a single up the middle that surely would have scored Reyes from second to tie the game. Although with his speed it is hard to blame him for aggressive base running, it is also hard not to think about whether there would have been a different outcome to the game, had Reyes held up at second.
The last piece of the puzzle is defense, and defensive expectations for Reyes were sky high heading into the season. He has not been a liability in the field by any means, but he has also not made any jaw dropping plays. I’m going to blame this on a small sample size and move on.
Overall grade: B+
With just one start under his belt, quoting his ERA and WHIP is foolish at this point in the year, so I am going to skip it completely. Johnson pitched six innings and gave up three earned runs on his way to a no decision against the Red Sox.
The big question is: how was his stuff?
Although his stats may not indicate it, Johnson pitched quite well. He was able to overcome two errors by Emilio Bonifacio that would have gotten him out of the inning by relying on his fastball and slider.
Johnson was able to stay around the strike zone all night, as 62 percent of his pitches were recorded as strikes. Although the Blue Jays lost the game 6-4, Johnson pitched well enough to get the win. Although early indications suggest he may have lost a couple miles per hour on his fastball, he was able to locate it well. It is not uncommon to see a pitcher improve on his fastball as he gets into game shape, so keep an eye out.
His pitch count ran a little high partly due to the six strikeouts he recorded, and partly because he had to overcome some untimely errors by his defense. This limited his appearance to just six innings.
Although this was not the kind of performance that would earn him the kind of offseason money his agent is looking for, in his first start he was serviceable.
Overall grade: B+
If you checked the score without watching the game during either of Dickey’s starts, you may have been forced to do a double take.
There is no way the Blue Jays ace could give up 10 earned runs over two starts and record two losses in his first two outings, right?
Well, it’s true. In his first start, Dickey took the loss after giving up two runs in the second inning and two in fifth before leaving in the sixth. It was a tough game for everyone and could have been a very different game had the Blue Jays batters not left five runners in scoring position.
The three passed balls by catcher J.P. Arencibia that pushed runners into scoring position did not help the cause either.
It was not the start that Dickey or his fans were hoping for, but it can only get better, right?
Fast-forward five days to Sunday afternoon when Dickey took the mound for his second start of the season, when the Red Sox hit him early and often. It was 5-0 Sox after the first inning, and 8-0 after the fifth.
Not a great day for Dickey, whose knuckleball was not dancing on it’s way to the plate like Mets fans grew to adore last year.
When Dickey is at his best, his knuckleball has some violent movement in the last six-10 inches in front of the plate. On Sunday against the Red Sox, he was unable to get the knuckler to cooperate and he ended up serving the Boston batters glorified hanging breaking balls that they were able to hit.
I am confident that Dickey will turn it around, but his 8.44 ERA and 0-2 record are the only quantitative stats to work with at this point. Unfortunately that is all I can base my grade on for now.
Overall grade: D
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