Who Needs to Be Good When the Other Guy Is Really, Really Bad?

Baseball is 90% mental; the other half is figuring that out

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Blue Jays 0, Brewers 2

Well, at least Marcus Stroman pitched a complete game. Not a single Jays’ starter managed that all last season so it’s a rarity. And that’s part of the reason I like baseball so much: you never know when you’re going to see something that only happens once in a blue moon.

Of course, even more rare than a complete game is a complete game loss, soooooo…that’s something… I guess? Right?

Even for a team that isn’t hitting, what happened last night at the Rogers Centre was pretty dismal. Chase Anderson is the very definition of mediocrity and nobody, not even the hometown rag is trying to claim otherwise:

Anderson entered camp as one of seven candidates for five rotation spots, but was the last man standing after Garza landed on the disabled list to start the season with a right-groin strain and Tommy Milone was moved to the bullpen…

Anderson was 9-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 31 games (30 starts) in 2016 for the Brewers, who acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the Jean Segura trade on Jan. 30, 2016. The nine wins tied a career high and his 120 strikeouts set a career high.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 March 2017

But—as was so often the case last April—the Blue Jays managed to make him look like a potential Cy Young candidate. And make no mistake, it was the Jays’ incompetence at the plate that lost the game, not any kind of actual pitching greatness by Anderson.

Take, for example, Anderson’s first strike out victim of the night, the mightily struggling Devon Travis:

travis cant hit

So…

First he watched a 92 MPH fastball go straight past his belt buckle. Then he swung at one brushing his thighs. He did manage to lay off the first eephus but swung at the next…and missed, even though it was at the knees.

I’m sorry, I don’t care how you slice it: that, my friends, is a terrible at bat.

(And just to be clear: no, I am absolutely not saying or suggesting that this should have been “easy” or that “anyone coulda hit those” because that’s just stupid. If I’d been at the plate I’d have swung at everything and knocked myself over trying to get to them. But then again, I’m just a little league coach.)

(But’s here something else to think about: I can easily drop a 77 MPH eephus over the plate…)

But I don’t want to single out Travis here, although he is one of the key players I wrote about yesterday. So, in the interests of fairness, let’s look at another one of those guys.

In what may very well have been the single most significant at bat in yesterday’s game, Russell Martin came to the plate in the fourth with two outs, bases loaded, after Tulo had been given the intentional pass, aaaaaaaand:

martin cant hit

So, pitches one and two were both low-90s centre-cut fastballs with virtually no movement in the same place, and Russell was only just able to foul them off. So then, of course, Anderson went nibbling to see if he could tempt Martin into swinging at something that was entirely garbage, or get a bad call by the umpire: he came up with the latter. So, yes, sure, the umpire blew the call. But Russell had already tried and failed on two almost-batting-practice fastballs.

Quick sidebar: yesterday I argued that Martin should be moved down in the order to avoid precisely this kind of situation, so…yay me?

So what, if anything does this demonstrate? Nothing, I admit, other than what we’ve been seeing with our own eyes: the Jays aren’t doing well at the plate. It does help underscore, I think, just how badly they’re doing at the plate. These two plate appearances, and so many others like them in these first eight games, haven’t just been bad, but laughably, ridiculously awful (as is their record) which is demonstration enough that it can’t possibly continue.

Neither Travis nor Martin—nor Bautista (the third guy I wrote about yesterday and whom I earlier took to task for a terrible at bat against Tommy Hunter)—has suddenly forgotten how to hit; none of them are injured, and none of them has suddenly aged a decade in off-season. The only explanation for these abysmal results lies somewhere between their ears. Something—I don’t know what, and, no, neither do you—is going on within each and every one of the these guys that’s leading him to swing and miss at garbage over, and over, and over again.

At this point, I’m just hoping that they or someone close to them can figure it out. And soon.

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