Yesterday's 9-3 trouncing at the hands of the Rangers yet again demonstrated the Blue Jays' pitching deficiencies this season. In their four game set with Texas, they were outscored by a combined total of 17-7. Moroever, Ameriquest Field hasn't proven to be much of a hitters' haven this season, ranking 17th among major league ballparks in the park factor for runs scored. In fact, with a park factor of 0.974, the environment has actually been more pitcher-friendly than hitter-friendly in that respect.
Among all AL teams with records above .500, Toronto has allowed the most runs (405). In a sense, B.J Ryan's and Roy Halladay's
dominance has kept the pitching staff afloat this season. Without Halladay, the Blue Jays are a sub-.500 team (33-34). Without Halladay and Ryan, the pitching staff's ERA jumps from 4.63, 17th in the majors, to 5.25, which would be the second worst ERA in the majors, behind Kansas City's.
With the seemingly never-ending revolving door at the #5 spot in the rotation, the maddeningly subpar production from long and middle relief, yet the spectacular offense to save the day, it appears as though nothing has changed between now and April. What many believed to be short-lived blips at the start of the season -- both in terms of the unexpectedly poor pitching and suprisingly great hitting -- seems to have become the norm. I'm curious to see what the team's overall offensive and defensive production has been from month to month.
Month R/9 AB/HR AB/BB AB/K OPS
April 5.60 20.3 9.3 5.6 .820
May 4.76 25.2 11.1 5.5 .751
June 4.33 36.5 12.9 4.6 .698
Well, it's evident that the team's pitching has steadily improved since the month of April. One major reason, of course, is that Josh Towers (9.11 ERA) has been demoted to AAA. Also, Ted Lilly was superb in June, posting an ERA of 2.76 while striking out over ten batters per nine innings. He still has serious control issues, but as long as he maintains a strikeout rate in that vicinity, he can overcome a high walk rate.
One player who struggled mightily in June was Casey Janssen, who posted an ERA of 6.07 in 29.2 IP. Much of his success prior to June was premised on an unsustainably-low BABIP, which has since increased a significant deal. In the end, his future performance will most likely land somewhere in between pre-June Janssen and post-May Janssen. He doesn't possess the stuff or the impeccable control to be a top-tier pitcher like Halladay or A.J. Burnett, but he can be a solid #3-5 starter, and do so at a very cheap cost during the next five years.
Month R/9 AB/HR AB/BB AB/K OPS
April 5.87 23.3 10.9 7.1 .857
May 5.44 24.5 10.9 7.5 .864
June 5.11 25.9 7.9 5.8 .838
The offense has been superb all season. However, its output has decreased as the season has progressed. That was almost inevitable, since Alexis Rios and Vernon Wells, among others, had red-hot, unsustainable starts to the season. In April, Wells hit .396/.437/.740 and Rios hit .362/.368/.725. In June, however, Wells "only" hit .296/.389/.582 while Rios hit .264/.356/.460. Lyle Overbay, whose good play has gone rather unnoticed this season, hit .310/.377/.570, tying Wells for the most total bases by any Blue Jay during this past June.
One good sign is that the team's walk rate has increased by a fair bit, partly due to Rios' individual spike in walks.
To an extent, the trends for pitching and offense should continue. With Burnett back and Towers in the minors, the team's pitching production shouldn't return to its April and May levels. One the other hand, with Rios on the mend and some players due for noticeable regressions (Reed Johnson in particular), the offensive output may decline as the season wears on. But the offense has played at such a high level that the team can withstand a noticeable drop off in production.
By the way, I hope no one found the title to be too suggestive. I'll try to keep things PG next time.