Wintery weather continued to take its toll on affiliates throughout the Blue Jays system (except of course Dunedin), but nonetheless there was plenty of outings turned in to look at. Below, we'll go through each level with a statistical summary as well as some commentary, but first I want to flesh out what exactly is in the tables below, what it means and provide some context.
For each pitcher, there's three groupings of data (from left right):
- Traditional box score data - innings pitched, batters faced, runs allowed, hits, walks, strikeouts. Note that BB* combined both walks and hit-by-pitches since they're basically the same thing.
- Plate appearance result data. BB% and K% are the numbers from the first group divided by batters faced. GB% and PU% are ground balls and popups (respectively) divided by all non-bunted balls in play. This is a decent proxy, though far from perfect in individual outings, for the quality of contact yielded.
- Pitch-by-pitch level data. "TP" is total pitches, "Stk" is total strikes, and "Whf" is total whiffs (swinging strikes). "Ahd" and "Bhnd" are how often the pitcher is ahead/behind after the first pitch (note that the two don't necessarily sum to 100% due to first pitch balls in play) since there's a huge difference in outcomes between those two. "Call%" is the called strikes/all balls taken (high is better), which gives some insight into strikethrowing and control. Finally, "Cnt%" is contact rate, non-whiff swings/all swings (or 100% - whiffs/all swings), which is the ability to miss bats (lower is better) and the best single measure of dominance.
And feedback on the information (or omitted) or how it's presented is welcome.
Drew Hutchison started Friday, and it was really a tale of two starts. In the early going, he struggled, needing 34 pitches for the first six batters, issuing two walks and a hard double from the stretch to plate a run with none out in the 2nd, and it looked like things were heading south. After that, he settled in and retired 12 straight batters, 8 strikeouts and 4 routine groundouts. It sounded like he worked mostly in the low-90s, but touched 93-94 to his last batter. One caveat is 7 of 9 strikeouts were looking, with 30 strikeouts in the game, so the strike zone may have been larger than normal.
Pat Venditte appeared in two games, throwing a clean inning in both and striking out 5 of 6 batters. His recipe was as simple as it was highly effective: he got ahead of every batter, pounded the strike zone, and got a few whiffs when he needed them and batters had their backs to the wall.
Jeremy Gabryszski turned in a solid 2016 debut, and really settled in over the last couple innings, retiring the last eight batters. The only blemish was a solo home run in the third inning. He missed a solid number of bats, but interestingly all but one strikeouts were looking.
Dunedin was the only affiliate to get all games in, so there's plenty to discuss. Tom Robson unfortunately had his debut cut short after running through the 30 pitch per inning limit. He simply could not throw consistently, with just 13% of pitches taken called strikes. Two things were very frustrating. First, three of the first batters hit weak ground balls, two that went for infield singles. If things go a little differently, he has an easy inning. Second, Robson started three batters 0-2, only to run the count full, which cost him a ton of pitches. His fastball was 91-92, and touched 94 per the broadcast.
Ryan Borucki's line looks is pretty ugly, but his outing wasn't actually nearly as bad. A couple of those hits were infield singles, and another three were ground ball extra base hits. 14 of 19 batters hit either ground balls or pop-ups, which is really good. He did give up two home runs to right field, but it sounded like there was a good wind blowing out. Ultimately, Borucki's undoing was that he fell behind three times as many hitters as he got ahead of, as he struggled to find the zone especially early in the count, and then hitters got to him when he pitched behind.
Justin Shafer had a rough start, with his sinker at 92-93 in the early going; unfortunately it didn't sink much and he got hit hard. He struggled when promoted to Dunedin last year, and it'll be interesting to see how committed the Jays are to him starting.
There were four relievers worth mentioning. Adonys Cardona is healthy and pitching an otherwise unnotable inning, with one fastball registered at 96. Carlos Ramirez is a converted infielder in his second year of pitching, and had an electric debut especially after starting with a walk and line drive double. His fastball was 92-93, and got a bunch of swinging strikes on his breaking ball.
Chris Rowley is a non drafted free agent in 2013 who posted some eye popping numbers in rookie ball before missing the last two years due to military service. It's a big jump from that to high-A, but he was dominant in two relief outings. Finally, Matt Dermody has an excellent relief outing, getting ahead of all batters, and then putting them away. He really should be in AA, but this is where signing a bunch of journeyman relievers pushes others down the depth chart, as with Chad Girodo last year.
Lansing has only got one game in so far, and 2016 started the way 2015 left off for Jon Harris, who didn't make it out of the first inning. His fastball was 92-93, touched 94, but he simply couldn't find the strike zone consistently as the four walks indicate. He also gave up two hard hits, though on the positive side he did manage to miss quite a few bats.
Ryan Cook was an undrafted free agent last year who posted solid numbers in the GCL and then in Vancouver, getting the assignment to Vancouver. His low-A debut was dominant, piling up 12 whiffs en route to five strikeouts over two innings of relief.