DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
by Quinn Sweetzir
The 2017 season opened Monday, and the Jays came up short, losing 3-2 in extra innings against the Baltimore Orioles. Though the result was not what I desired, watching the Jays first live, meaningful baseball game in months was incredibly satisfying. But now that the first one's over, it's time to consider how the Jays can win as many of the next 161 as possible, specifically looking at controllable things that the club should do to help themselves win as much as possible. As such, here are five things the Jays should avoid doing throughout next season.
1. Don't Use Jason Grilli Against Lefties
This one is really pretty simple. The Jays should look to avoid using Jason Grilli against left handed hitters because he simply struggles to get outs. Grilli's triple slash against righties in 2016 was .197/.261/.352 - a very good line overall. However his abilities decline significantly against lefties however, as his triple slash regresses to .211/.372/.506, a rather alarming trend. Luckily, there is rather simple fix to this, and that is to avoid using Grilli against lefties as much as possible. After all, the 8.10 BB/9 against lefties is not something we want to see this season.
2. Don't Fall For Ezequiel Carrera's Streakiness
Ezequiel Carrera does this thing every once in a while, where he gets hot for a few weeks, fans start to think he's worthy of a full time outfield role, and than opposing pitchers remember he's Ezequiel Carrera, and he goes cold again. Since joining the Jays in 2015, Carrera's lack of consistency has been both incredible and frustrating. Although this streakiness has occasionally effective - 2016 playoffs - it has let to some rather underwhelming seasons overall. Just consider his numbers from last season. Carrera's WRC+ ranged from -32 to 173 depending on the month, which just goes to show that trusting him can be beneficial for a couple of weeks, but is not sustainable in the long run.
3. Don't Be Afraid To Joe Biagini For Multiple Innings At A Time
There are two big benefits to using Biagini for multiple innings at a time this coming season. First, doing so makes it easier to transition him to the rotation in 2018 should one of Marco Estrada or Francisco Liriano depart in free agency. Secondly, Doing so improves the Jays this season. If the Jays elect to use him in this role more frequently, it allows the Jays to avoid overusing other members of their bullpen, and keeps Biagini if (or when) one of the Jays starters gets injured. Plus, doing so also could allow to remove their starters earlier in the game, and have a smooth transition to the back end of the bullpen without overusing the rest of the bullpen.
4. Don't Overwork Russell Martin
In seasons past, excessive playing time for Russell Martin could be justified by the fact that Josh Thole was the clubs backup catcher, and could realistically expected to perform at a quality level for 40+ games a season. However, the club replaced Thole with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who might not be a reincarnation of Buster Posey, but is as least solid enough to keep Martin off the field 40+ times this season. Keeping Martin healthy is one of the keys to a succesful season, and adding Salty could lead to an improvement in the performance of both Martin, and from the backup catcher standpoint.
5. No Stupid Injuries
Joaquin Benoit tore his left calf running fro the bullpen to a brawl in a game against the Yankees last season. He was out for the rest of the season. Devon Travis was out a few games from injuries suffered in the same brawl. The fact of the matter is that injuries like this are both avoidable and outright stupid, and the Jays need to do their best to ensure that they don't get injured in unnecessary brawl, or falling down the dugout steps, or washing kitchen equipment, or any other dumb reason. Injuries are unavoidable throughout a 162 game season, but risking further injuries in preventable circumstances is something the Jays should absolutely about this season. Every game counts, and you never know when losing a player to injury is going to cost you dearly.
Anyway, that's it for my things for the Jays to avoid in 2017. Though there are a few more smaller things, these are the big ones, and may prove to play a surprising role in the success of the team in 2017.