Over the past week I’ve created series previews for Toronto’s upcoming opponents. The previews focus primarily on the opposing pitcher, what that pitcher aims to do, and how the Jays should game plan their offence.
The following is a report card of sorts. The format is as follows:
- The game number of the series and the opposing pitcher
- The actual text used in the series’ previews for the optimal game plan
- Notes on how the team did
- Finally, the pitchers end of game stat line
Game #1: Hisashi Iwakuma
Jays Plan of Attack: Keep things simple. Attack fastball’s early. Be aware of splitters in 2 strike counts.
As the game wore the Jays finally began attacking fastballs early in the count. But it was a case of too little, too late, as Iwakuma’s splitter gave over-agressive Jays hitters fits in two strike counts. On the night, the Jays struck out seven times vs the splitter and, in two strike counts, were only 3 for 14 (all singles) against the splitter.
Iwakuma: 8 IP, 4 hits, 3 BB, 13 K, 1 ER
Game #2: Jason Vargas
Jays Plan of Attack: RHB are hitting only .455 OPS & .165 wOBA vs Vargas’ change. The prevailing logic would be to lay off the pitch and attack his fastball & cutter. Sometimes this is easier said than done.
Jays hitters were unable to lay off the change. They swung at 58.3% of changes, missed 28.6% and on the game went 1 for 6 (single) with 2 K vs the pitch.
Vargas’ cutter & fastball did their damage as well, as the Jays weren’t able to muster solid contact against these pitches.
It was just one of those games. Vargas had his mojo working and Toronto couldn’t do anything against him.
Vargas: 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 BB. 4 K, 2 ER
Game #3: Blake Beaven
Jays Plan of Attack: LHB should take pitches early to gauge how the umpire is going to call the game. RHB should jump all over fastballs. Beaven has allowed .384 wOBA & .910 OPS against on his fastball this season.
Instead of letting the umpire control the game, Jays hitters were aggressive all night long, swinging at multiple first pitches. The LHB made up the majority of the offence, going yard twice:
- Rasmus HR 0-0 fastball
- Johnson HR 1-0 fastball
Toronto swung at 14 of 29 first pitches, producing a .810 OPS.
Luck was not with the bluebirds on this afternoon, as only one of three linedrives landed in for a hit (Cooper’s double in the 5th). Toronto’s BABIP on fastballs for the gam was only .167
This translated into Beaven picking up the W
Beaven: 7.2 IP, 7 hits, 0 BB, 4 K, 3 ER
Game #1: Bartolo Colon
Jays Plan of Attack: Attack early, attack often. Colon is always around the zone.
At the start of the series I called for the Jays to open it up on the base paths. This game would have been a great time to do so. Colon allowed 7 hits on the night, all singles. Inexplicably the Jays did not attempt even one steal in game one.
As for attacking early & often, Toronto came through with flying colours:
- 1 pitch AB: 7
- 2 pitch AB: 5
- 3 pitch AB: 10
This payed off in terms of the seven hits . However, the station to station nature didn’t get the job done and Toronto failed to score a run against Bartolo.
Colon: 8 IP, 7 Hits, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 ER
Game #2: Invalid, as the A’s made a late change, calling up rookie Dan Straily to take Travis Blackley’s place.
Game #3: Invalid, as A’s starter A.J. Griffin injured himself in the 2nd inning.
Game #4: Tom Milone
Jays Plan of Attack: Stick with the game plan from last week. Remain aggressive, attack Milone’s low offering and look to drive the ball to the outfield.
Toronto followed this game plan to the letter. Here’s a graphic of the Jays hit locations:
Toronto RHB neutralized the outside corner and all batters fared well on lower offerings. In total, Toronto was 6 for 13 against bottom third and lower out of the zone pitches:
Milone: 6 IP, 9 hits, 1 BB, 4 K, 6 ER
Report Card Grade: B
Surprisingly, these little ‘plan of attack’ appear to be similar to the game plans that the Jays employ.
I can’t make any promises regarding future post series-recaps, as there are a number of Jays related topics I’d like to spend my time on. However, I will continue creating series previews for at least the rest of the month, if not the entire season.
On deck tomorrow: Series preview for Toronto visiting the Tampa Rays
Notes: Top image via Google images, data via B-Ref, ESPN True Media