Toronto Blue Jays
We just saw these guys. Come on, schedule-makers. Thankfully there will be less of this sort of didn't-we-just-play-them-one-series-ago events next season, but for now here's yet another.
Last weekend the Mariners took two out of three north of the border, with Yusei Kikuchi turning in his best game as a Major Leaguer to date in the rubber match. Since then, the Blue Jays have been visiting southern California and getting swept by the Dodgers, two of three in walk-off fashion.
The Jays are in Seattle on Players' Weekend, a novelty created to give fans yet another jersey variant to buy in team stores. As always, a deluge of Canadians is expected to rain down on the ballpark by Elliott Bay to turn things into a de facto West Coast home series for Toronto.
Friday's game will match Trent Thornton, who got a no-decision in a six-inning start against the M's last week, against top-prospect Justus Sheffield, who is expected to be promoted for his first Major-League start. Sheffield has been terrific in Double-A (5-3, 2.19 ERA, 1.026 WHIP), but earlier in the year struggled at Triple-A Tacoma (2-6, 6.87, 1.818). Toronto isn't saying who will go on Saturday and Sunday, but Seattle will see the return of Felix Hernández on Saturday and Marco Gonzales will take the hill Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, here's what we had to say last week; things haven't changed much.
MLB: The Next Generation. That's what the current edition of the Toronto Blue Jays kind of looks like—Toronto features three star rookies that are the sons of Major League stars of the '90s: Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bichette and Guerrero are living up to their names right out of the gate—batting .365/.420/.689 and .272/.344/.456, respectively—while Biggio has struggled at just .207/.337/.379; he perhaps was promoted too soon, having only played 43 games in Triple-A early this year.
With the sons of All-Stars now grabbing the headlines north of the border, it's taken some of the heat off the Jays' poor season. At 22 games under .500, they've performed much as the Mariners have, with a similar youth movement in effect. Of course, the Jays don't have the same history of futility that the M's do; they were last in the ALCS just three years ago as a Wild Card team and won the Eastern division in 2015. When their roster restructuring bears fruit it will have been a relatively brief exile to loserdom.
Meanwhile, though, the Jays are well-matched to the sad-sack Mariners of 2019. Other than Bichette and Guerrero, there are no steady threats in the Toronto lineup; former Mariner Justin Smoak is doing his best to be Canada's Daniel Vogelbach, with 19 homers and 68 walks, but with a batting average barely over the Mendoza line and 85 Ks even he isn't intimidating. In fact, now that Toronto has traded Eric Sogard to the Rays and lost Freddy Galvis off waivers to the Reds, and with Lourdes Gurriel on the injured list through the end of the month, no one other than the All-Star Juniors is batting as high as .245. On the mound, Toronto is patching together a starting rotation of sorts after trading Marcus Stroman to the Mets and Aaron Sánchez to the Astros and releasing Edwin Jackson; Trent Thornton (who?) is their one remaining starter from the start of the season. The bullpen still features closer Ken Giles, who is having a stellar year with 16 saves and a 1.89 ERA for a team that doesn't win much, but—again, like the M's—has seen a lot of turnover during the season outside of Giles, ex-M Sam Gaviglio, Derek Law, and southpaw Tim Mazaya.
|vs. AL West||12-13|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last 10 games
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
.414/.500/.759, 5 XBH, 6 RBI
.273/.289/.533, 6 XBH, 4 RBI
.200/.256/.275, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 16 K
.172/.294/.448, 4 XBH, 4 RBI, 12 K
.206/.206/.364, 3XBH, 7 RBI
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|8/18/19||SEA 7, TOR 0|
|8/17/19||SEA 4, TOR 3|
|8/16/19||TOR 7, SEA 3|
|8/5/18||SEA 6, TOR 3|
|8/4/18||TOR 5, SEA 1|
|8/3/18||TOR 7, SEA 2|
|8/2/18||TOR 7, SEA 3|
|5/10/18||SEA 9, TOR 3|
|5/9/18||TOR 5, SEA 2|
|5/8/18||SEA 5, TOR 0|
Charlie Montoyo: A longtime minor-league skipper, this is Montoyo's first taste of managerial action in the Majors. The rookie manager had spent the last four seasons on Kevin Cash's coaching staff in Tampa Bay; before that, he led seven squads at various levels of the minors for the Rays' organization, including a long and successful run with the Triple-A Durham Bulls for which he was honored with a spot in the International League Hall of Fame.
Montoyo had a brief career as a player, drafted out of Puerto Rico by the Brewers and eventually getting to the bigs as a Montréal Expo in 1993 as a September callup (he was 2-for-5). The ex-infielder can often be heard in his office playing his bongo drums, a gift from his wife that lets him enjoy his own renditions of salsa beats. Left at home are his congas, claves, maracas, and timbales.
Justin Smoak: He never gelled as a Mariner, but Smoak has finally reached some level of Major League success north of the border. The key piece the M's wanted when they traded Cliff Lee to the Rangers way back in 2010, Smoak was touted as a superstar in the making, but with Seattle only managed to bat .226 over 4½ seasons. Always a solid defensive first baseman, the switch-hitter was claimed off the waiver wire by Toronto prior to the 2015 campaign and finally put things together in 2017, earning an All-Star selection and posting a .270/.355/.529 line with 38 home runs. He regressed a little last year and in 2019 has dropped even further, but he still draws his walks and hits longballs, evidenced by a respectable near-.800 OPS.
|Toronto Blue Jays||(1977 - present)|
|World Champions:||1992, 1993|
|Division Titles:||1985, 1989, 1991, 2015|