Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another blow to Jays rotation: Romero to DL

The Blue Jays already thin rotation was dealt another blow after Ricky Romero was placed on the 15 day DL with an oblique strain.

The injury comes out of no where, as Romero has been dynamite to start his major league career. Over 3 starts, the 2005 1st round pick has posted a 2-0 record with an ERA of 1.71. For an already depleted staff, this marks another blow and will test the Blue Jays depth even further. Having already put Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, and now Romero on the shelf, Toronto will likely dip to the minors for another starter.

As posted a few days ago in the Jays prospect watch, the obvious choices would be prospects Brad Mills or Brett Cecil, although they have both struggled thus far in AAA. At this point though, with yet another starter injured, Toronto's hand might be forced in seeing what one of the young kids can do.

David Purcey struggling with focus

Blue Jays number two starter David Purcey has had an inconsistent start to the 2009 season. In four starts, his record is 0-1 with an ERA of 6.10. Purcey has had stints of being very solid, and some mental lapses that have cost him dearly.

The number one issue with Purcey is his focus. Consider his past two starts against the Athletics and the Rangers. In both instances, Purcey has been given a lead, only to surrender it the following inning. Against Oakland, Purcey was given a 4 run lead after the 3rd inning, but in the following frame, the wheels fell off and the Jays lead disintegrated. Giving up runs right after taking a lead is detrimental to the team, and the Jays ended up losing that constest. In Wednesday's tilt against Texas, Rod Barajas hit a 2 run blast to put Toronto up 2. Before you know it, Purcey has coughed up the lead again.

This demonstrates that Purcey has a lack of focus, as he relaxes when given a lead. He is very good when the ball game is tied, but when he has been given leads, his game goes south, causing him to have stretches where he's pitching poorly.

For a young pitcher the challenge will be to learn from this to become a quality Major League starter.

Rios responds with strong outing

Finally Alex Rios decided to show up. It took him 16 games, but he might have busted out of a brutal season long slump that had yet to produce a single home run. After I strongly ripped into the enigmatic Rios throughout his poor month of April, I must give the man his due when he performs well.

In Wednesday's tilt against the Rangers, Rios went 4 for 6, raising his average from .206 to .246. All four of the hits were singles, two of which resulted in RBI. Putting into perspective his slow start, the four base raps represented 1 hit less then 25% of the hits he's had to date in 2009.

Let's see him do this over the course of a couple more games before we start to jump to conclusions. It might have been a complete aberration. Hopefully, this will kick start Rios' year and he'll be able to produce big numbers for an already potent Jays lineup.

Blow Jay Ryan resurfaces...

After an awful start to the season, followed by three successful outings (including two saves), it appeared that B.J. Ryan had righted the ship and could be counted upon in the 9th inning of a tight ball game. Until he coughed up a 3 run lead in the 9th inning to the Rangers Wednesday.

Leading 7-4 heading into the final frame of the contest, Manager Cito Gaston entrusted Blow Jay Ryan to shut down the Rangers to even the series. Ryan promptly put the first two on, hitting a batter then issuing a free pass. A run scored following an error charged to Aaron Hill, trimming the Jays lead to 2. A couple batters later, after a Michael Young solo bomb, the game was tied. Blow Jay Ryan had fizzled away his second save opportunity of the campaign.

Fortunately, the Jays were able to win in the 11th inning on a walk off single by Kevin Millar, so Ryan will be spared by even further criticism.

Despite my affectionate nickname for him, I've always stated the Jays need to keep rolling him out in the 9th inning of close games, and I'll stand by that, despite the anguish and pain he causes even when he's able to get the job done.

What should the Jays do? Continue to play him in tense situations? Give the closing role to someone else? Perhaps he'll land on the disabled list? Either way, it's a hot topic of discussion in Toronto.