Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Richmond bounces back

In what might be characterized as his most impressive outing of the season, particularly because it followed his worst start of the year, Scott Richmond bounced back in a big way Monday against the White Sox.

Had the 29-year old rookie had a poor showing following his 5 run in 1 1/2 inning debacle against the Yankees, he likely would have been on the hot seat with a number of pitchers in the minor leagues nipping at his heels. The righty went 7 strong innings without giving up a run, whiffing 7 batters and allowing just 5 hits. He left with a 2 run lead, but did not factor into the decision after Jesse Carlson coughed up the lead in the 8th.

The great start put to rest (for now) suggestions that his AL Rookie of the Month award in April was merely a mirage, where he was bound to fall back down to earth eventually. He better not get too comfortable, however, because the likes of Casey Janssen, Ricky Romero, David Purcey, Brad Mills, Fabio Castro, Jesse Litsch and others are awaiting their turn to be the next pitcher to turn heads north of the border.

And that's precisely what is so great about the situation with the pitching staff. They know the next start could be their last, so they are preparing, and giving their all each and every start.

Time to worry about Jesse Carlson?

It's easy to jump to conclusions pretty quickly about relievers, especially when they've had a couple of bad outings, but should we be worried about the effectiveness of Jesse Carlson?

Monday marked the 2nd straight sour outing in a tight ball game by the diminutive lefty. Though he eventually wound up with the win, Carlson surrendered a 2-run shot to Jim Thome in the top of the 8th, erasing a 2 run edge. The Jays scored one in the bottom half of the frame ro let him off the hook and award him a victory. On Thursday, it was Carlson's poor pitch to Hideki Matsui in the 8th inning that led to a series clinching solo home run fpr the Yankees. He's also had a rough outing against Cleveland in early May, and was saddled with the extra innings loss mid-April to the Twins.

The 28-year old Carlson took a long trip to the major leagues, and has been mostly quite productive since being called up in early 2008. The question is, however, has the league caught up to him? Will he no longer be an effective relief pitcher in the Blue Jays bullpen?

Scutaro doesn't miss any action after injury

I must admit, when Marco Scutaro was hit in the chest by a ball on his way to stealing 3rd base, which made him squirm in pain, my heart stopped. Based on his reaction, it seemed like he was toast, possibly with an injury that could be quite serious. Fortunately, it appears to have been just a minor ailment, and he made it back into the lineup today against Chicago.

Scutaro has been fantastic this year, exceeding expectations both with the bat and in the field. The question is, does anyone not love Scutaro? It seems impossible. In two seasons in Toronto, his give it his all style of play has endeared him to us all.

I'll re-open the question; if Scutaro misses time this year, who replaces him at the top of the order? Joe Inglett, currently playing in AAA Las Vegas and the Jays lead-off hitter for a good chunk of '08? He'd be a good option, but would he start at short? Does Alex Rios slide up to top of the order? What about experimenting with Johnny Mac at the top of the order? How about Lyle Overbay? My money would be on Jose Bautista moving up to lead the charge, because he has the club's best on base percentage and has moved around in the lineup all season. It's a tough call, one that Manager Cito Gaston doesn't want to make (which is why I'm convinced McDonald has just one start this year, though it was at 2nd base in place of Aaron Hill)

I'd rather not know the answers to these questions, because it would mean our boy Marco Scutaro is healthy and in the lineup the entire season. We all know he's a critical piece to this Blue Jays squad!