Friday, April 24, 2009

Ryan to DL; Downs perfect for closer role

After a wildly inconsistent start to the 2009 season, closer B.J. Ryan was finally put out of his misery and sent to the disabled list with soreness in his back and shoulder. Ryan chalked up a pair of saves, but also blew 2 chances to secure a victory for the Jays this year.

Enter dependable veteran Scott Downs to fill the void. The crafty lefty worked a perfect 9th inning against the Rangers Thursday for his 1st save of the season. For the foreseeable future, Downs will be in control of shutting down opponents in the 9th inning. Over the course of his 8 year career, Downs has just 8 career saves, (5 of which came last season) so it will be pretty new territory for the former 3rd round draft pick.

Inserting Downs into the closers role makes the most sense, especially with his sensational start to '09, but it will create a void that he used to fill in the 8th inning. Thursday evening, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp combined to work a scoreless 8th frame against Texas. Those two, along with Brandon League and Jason Frasor figure to be in the mix for late inning duties.

Jays win 5th series in a row; 21 games over .500 under Cito

After disposing of the Texas Rangers (6-9) by a count of 5-2, the high flying Toronto Blue Jays (12-5) are the first team in the major leagues to 12 victories.

The win marked the fifth straight series the Blue Jays have won, although its curious to note they still have yet to sweep any opponents thus far. What's even more remarkable is the fact the team hasn't lost back to back contests all year.

Taking into consideration last years record under Manager Cito Gaston (51-37), and the hot start this year, Toronto is an astounding 21 games above .500 under the man who led them to back to back World Series titles in the early nineties.! There should be no doubt about whether this team is for real and capable of putting a legitimate scare in the beasts from the A.L. East.

Is Scott Richmond good?

The more and more Scott Richmond pitches, and does a very respectable job, the more it seems the Canadian might actually be a decent major league pitcher. What's more remarkable is the fact he'd probably be the 8th string member of the rotation if everybody was healthy (Instead, because McGowan, Marcum, Litsch, Janssen, and Romero are all hurt, he's now the 3rd more experience member of the starting five!)

Richmond went 6 innings against Texas, allowing a pair of runs to pick up his 2nd win of the campaign. Most impressive was his 8 strike outs, 3 more than his previous career high. A lot of his K's came on dirty breaking balls that fooled a potent Rangers attack. Once the book comes out on the rookie hurler, will be as effective the next time he faces teams from around the American League?

In 8 career starts, he has amassed a record of 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA. Perhaps I, like many others, have been wrong in pegging Richmond as a rather poor pitcher. He's still not a long term solution for the rotation, but with several key members of the starting staff dropping like flies, Richmond's solid performances are like gold.