So if you think back to the doomsayers regarding the Jays this offseason, many folks thought that the reason the Jays couldn't compete was the starting rotation - namely, injuries to Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum and the departure of A.J. Burnett to free agency. Here on Bluebird Banter, we disagreed, saying that the rotation would be, while not as excellent as last season's, fully competent, but let's put that aside for now. Throw in the fact that Jesse Litsch has basically missed the entire season thusfar and David Purcey's ineffectiveness, and one might think things would be even bleaker for the starting rotation (and the Jays) than was suggested in the offseason.
This hasn't happened. The Jays starting rotation ranks 5th in the AL in ERA, 7th in OPS against, and 1st in the league in K/BB ratio. The Jays have gotten the expected fantastic contribution from Roy Halladay and good performances from Brian Tallet, Ricky Romero, Scott Richmond, Brett Cecil, and lately, a couple of quite servicable starts from Casey Janssen. These pitchers all deserve credit for stepping in, and have gotten plenty of kudos, but just as importantly to the performance of these gentlemen has been the great job their friends behind them are doing.
John Dewan, he of the the Fielding Bible, highlighted just how good the Jays defense has been with his recent stat of the week (h/t to our good friend, Mockingbird) Dewan ranks the Jays tops in the AL East in defensive runs saved this season, and second in all of baseball (just behind the Texas Rangers):
|Defensive Runs Saved—Top Five Teams|
|Toronto Blue Jays||25|
|Tampa Bay Rays||21|
According to Dewan, Marco Scutaro (9 runs saved) and Aaron Hill (8 runs saved) are leading the way. The defense's proficiency at turning batted balls into outs has really helped the Jays' young starters do the great job they've been doing and keep the Jays in almost every game this season, even during our horrendous
10- 9-game losing streak. It's hard to draw up a better defensive infield than Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, and Scott Rolen.
The fact that the Jays's starters lead the league in K/BB ratio means that if they can do a bit of a better job limiting home runs (not a particular strenght for the starters thusfar), their performance could even be expected to improve, especially with the defense continuing to do such a fantastic job.
Our title today comes from Green Day's great friend anthem "Pop Rocks and Coke". See you all in the game thread!