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Timely Win Against the Devil Rays

  • Today the Blue Jays put an end to their three-game losing streak by defeating the Devil Rays by a score of 6-4. They now stand three games behind of the Red Sox and half a game behind the Yankees. That's not bad, especially after taking their unfortunate strength of schedule into account. Although the difference isn't all that large, the Blue Jays have played a tougher schedule than either the Red Sox or the Yankees. Consider their respective SOS (strength of schedule) as well as their respective pythagorean won-lost records:

    Team       SOS     W-L     Pythag. W-L
    Blue Jays .515     24-20   24-20
    Red Sox   .509     26-16   24-18
    Yankees   .501     24-19   26-17

    After the current series against the Devil Rays concludes, the schedule doesn't get much easier in May, with both the White Sox and Red Sox coming to town. In June, however, the schedule really softens up:

    Opponents in June:

    Opponent     Games Against     Winning %
    Devil Rays    3               .444
    Orioles       8               .455
    Tigers        3               .682
    Marlins       3               .279
    Braves        3               .500
    Mets          3               .605
    Nationals     3               .356
    Phillies      1               .535

    Combined winning percentage of the team's opponents in June (weighted based on games played against): .473

    That's quite a contrast from the schedule to which the Blue Jays have thus far been accustomed. That certainly bodes well for the future, and it'll be an opportune time to gain some ground in the AL East.

  • Despite a so-so performance, Casey Janssen pitched well enough to secure the victory in this afternoon's game. He really didn't pitch all that poorly despite giving up four runs. He allowed an average of one hit per inning and he gave up no walks, which suggests that his control was at least adequate. His struggles arose as a result of the two home runs he gave up, one to Russell Branyan in the second inning and the other to Josh Paul in the fifth inning. In his 32.1 innings pitched prior to this start, he gave up a total of one home run, so this came as somewhat of a surprise. The other two runs he gave up can be attributed to a sacrifice fly and Jason Frasor's inability keep inherited runners from scoring. Janssen has become a rather reliable option in a rather unreliable Blue Jays starting rotation. In fact, with Ted Lilly's recent struggles and poor peripherals, he's probably the team's second best starter, behind Roy Halladay.

    It's easy to harp on Lilly's woes after they've taken place, but it was somewhat inevitable that his numbers would regress. His main problem is that he simply allows too many men to reach base, which ultimately precludes him from maintaining a high level of success. As of now, he ranks 89th in WHIP among the 101 pitchers who qualify (to be qualified, player must average at least one inning pitched for every game his team has played). Of course, those who rank below him have not fared all that well this season. Luckily for Lilly, he compensates for his poor control by striking out batters at a decent clip. Scott Kazmir, for example, has enjoyed a great deal of success despite his relatively so-so WHIP (which has been declining rapidly as of late). On a team whose pitching philosophy seems to revolve around control (Halladay, Janssen, pre-2006 Towers, etc.), Lilly significantly deviates from the norm.