The Toronto Blue Jays: Dancing into September

By: Dan Grant

Beginning in 2013, embattled Toronto Blue Jays fan Dan Grant fought his desire to be excited for the season vs. his long standing pessimism towards the chances of Toronto sports teams, ingrained in the very fibre of his being by over two decades of futility. Overwhelmed by the conflict, his mind split into two entities – Regular Dan and Pessimistic Dan. A blood battle has been waged for two plus seasons, as a seemingly talented Blue Jays side has struggled to overcome a combination of injuries and bad luck. The war rages on…

Regular Dan: Ahem. Let us begin with a quote:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
― Winston S. Churchill

Pessimistic Dan: Oh come on.

RD: What?

PD: Churchill? Why don’t you you try and quote an older, whiter guy?

RD: I thought it was apt!

PD: Apt?

RD: Yeah, apt. A-P-T!

PD: That’s a fucking word?

RD: You know it is! We’re in the same brain here!

PD: It doesn’t mean you’re any less of a goober. Look, here’s a better quote:

dmxgif

See that? It’s got pictures and everything. It’s the 90’s man, dare to dream big.

RD: But why are you losing your cool, young Ruff Ryder?

PD: Because everyone has been so goddamned positive about this baseball team, they can’t see it’s all about come crashing down.

RD: Here we go.

PD: You’re damn right! You think we’re going to go 21-6 every month?

RD: Well no, but…

PD: But nothing! We ripped off the best month in club history and where did it get us?

RD: First place?

PD: Exactly! First…wait, what?

RD: Yeah man. We’re in first place. By 1.5 games. On September 2nd. And even if the Yankees somehow catch and/or pass us, we’ve got a hefty lead in the Wild Card race.

PD: Ugh, don’t get me started on the Wild Card game. A crap shoot if there ever was one…

RD: Nice pessimistic recovery. Look man, we got together before the season started and you expressed some major reservations. I think this version of the team has done a fantastic job of disspelling every single one of your crappy arguments. You were worried about Devon Travis at second and he’s been a stud, when healthy. You were worried about first base, and the Colabello/Smoak combination has been just fine and dandy. The bullpen, well, your concerns there turned out to have some merit…

PD: I knew it!

RD: …but they’ve all been addressed! They Jays have had just about the best bullpen in the American League since the All-Star Break. They have a dominant K/BB ratio of nearly 5 to 1, and they put up the leagues best ERA and second best FIP and xFIP in August.

PD: OK but that’s just in the past month!

RD: Yes, but that’s the team now. You were worried about a bullpen with Todd Redmond, Miguel Castro and Colt Hynes. This bullpen has LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe and Aaron Sanchez instead. You also were worried about Marco Estrada having any turns in the starting rotation and Roberto Osuna even being on the team.

PD: Oh. Well shit.

RD: Yeah. Plus reinforcements might be on the way, just in case.

“Let me stop you right there. There’s no ‘might’ about it.”

PD: Well I mean… Travis is hurt…

RD: Yeah he’s had a shoulder injury. It’s sucked. But Ryan Goins has filled in admirably on the defensive side and his bat has even come around lately.

PD: Yeah, tell me about it. That should have been primo pessimism fodder!

RD: Really? That’s all you’ve got?

PD: Yup. I’m as speechless as an Australian TV Host watching that Great White Shark video.

RD: Come on now! This is supposed to be a back and forth.

PD: I know, but I’m just not seeing it.

RD: There’s nothing you’re down about? Not even Troy Tulowitzki’s bat?

PD: Nah, some guy convinced me that was going to come around.

RD: Osuna looking tired as hell against the Cleveland’s the other night?

Osuna gave up a game tying blast to former Jay Yan Gomes

Osuna gave up a game tying blast to former Jay Yan Gomes

PD: No, I mean, he’s only pitched like 57 innings or something so far. They’ve done a really nice job monitoring his workload. So he blew a save on a hot, sticky night when he didn’t have his best stuff. Welcome to baseball.

RD: OK, OK. I’ve got one for you. Ben Revere in the lead-off spot.

PD: Well yes, that’s undoubtedly stupid, but even Gibbons has said that’s only temporary while Revere is hot and/or until Tulo gets going.

RD: Well hell, man. I’m throwing you bones left and right and you can’t even find one thing to be upset about?

PD: You don’t think I want to? You think I asked for this? My pessimism is my livelihood! It’s my allure, my twinkle!  Look away… I’m hideous.

RD: If you haven’t got anything, I guess we should wrap this…

PD: Wait just a second–

RD: Here he goes.

PD: It’s coming to me…

RD: Oh, I know it is. I live in this brain too, you know.

PD: I GOT IT!

.

RD: Lay it on me, big guy.

PD: So I was listening to local sports radio yesterday–

RD: Your first mistake.

PD: –and the guy was saying that they’re pushing everyone in the starting rotation back a day, with the off-day this Thursday!

RD: Yeah, and?

PD: Well they did that before, too! And now, if you look at the way the rotation lines up, they’ve got it set so that David Price misses the final series of the year.

RD: Yeah OK, presumably to set him up to start either the Wild Card game or the first game of the ALDS. What’s your beef?

PD: But that’s bullshit! You can’t save your bullets with a 1.5 game lead in the AL East!

RD: Did you think of this yourself or are you just regurgitating what the idiot host was saying?

PD: Regurgitating! But also, agreeing vehemently! You gave up Dan Norris for this guy and you’re keeping bullets in the chamber? There’s no guarantee he’s coming back next year. You need to milk as much from him as you can. This is huge mismanagement.

RD: Alright, settle down. Let’s take a look at the big picture and see if you’re even making any sense.

Currently, Price is set to start Sunday, September 5th vs Baltimore. There are two scenarios in front of us. One is him starting every fifth day, regardless of off-days (and presumably skipping Drew Hutchison once or twice) and the other is keeping the five man rotation intact, also regardless of off-days.

If he starts every fifth day, his starts look like this:

Sept 6th vs Baltimore Orioles

Sept 11th vs New York Yankees

Sept 16th vs Atlanta Braves

Sept 21st vs New York Yankees

Sept 26th vs Tampa Bay Rays

Oct 1st vs Baltimore Orioles

If the rotation stays intact regardless of off days, then his starts look like this:

Sept 6th vs Baltimore

Sept 11th vs New York

Sept 17th vs Atlanta

Sept 22nd vs New York

Sept 28th vs Baltimore

Oct 3rd vs Tampa Bay

Are the Jays mismanaging David Price's schedule?

Are the Jays mismanaging David Price’s schedule?

So what does this tell us? In either scenario, he’s got six more starts, and he’s in both Yankees series regardless. If they weren’t pushing him back this weekend (Ed. Note: Shortly after this article was posted, the Jays changed tack and announced that Price would indeed start Saturday, September 5th, on his normal rest. Presumably this makes him available for the Tampa series if he’s needed and gives him extra rest for any post-season activity if he’s not) and he was starting Saturday, on his normal rest, then he’d get a seventh start in, on the last day of the season versus Tampa Bay, leaving him unavailable to start in the Wild Card game and probably unavailable to start a theoretical Game 1 of the ALDS. If the rotation stays completely intact for the duration, then he’d also be unavailable to start the AL Wild Card game, as it would be on just two days rest.

What I think you’ll see is that Hutchison (or maybe the flagging Mark Buehrle) will be skipped at least once in September, setting it up so that the Jays have options. If Price pitches every fifth day from Sunday out, he could theoretically start the last game of the season on three days rest, if the race indeed comes down to the last day. And if it doesn’t, he’s set up to start the Wild Card or Game 1.

Make no mistake, the Jays got David Price for a playoff run, but they also got him to pitch IN the playoffs. The argument that they need to massage the rotation so that they get the most regular season outings from him is a silly one.

PD: But why? If you don’t make the playoffs then it’s all for nothing anyway.

RD: Exactly, you goon. You’re arguing yourself in circles. You’re saying that we should get the most out of Price but also that we shouldn’t worry about setting him up to potentially start in the Wild Card game with the season on the line?

PD: Well, no but–

RD: So then you’re saying that we should want him to be available for the Wild Card game, should we need him?

PD: Well yes, but–

RD: Right, so then what, exactly, is your goddamned point?

PD: My point is that… uh, I mean, it’s that, you know, like, when we get to the end of the season, then yeah! Maximizing assets! But if you look at the match-ups… uh wait. I SAID WAIT!

.

RD: I think the clip says it all.

And as we began, let us also finish with a quote from a dead white guy:

“You’ll never find a rainbow, if you’re looking down.”

– Charlie Chaplin

Look, of course there are things to nitpick. There always will be in sports. Opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one and none of them work right after you eat too many tacos. But the point is that right now it’s awesome to be a Blue Jays fan. The city is revving with excitement. Jays gear is everywhere. Games are sold out daily. Everyone and anyone is on the bandwagon, and we all should be. We’ve waited 22 years for this. I know we’re not used to success, that we’re not used to having nice things in this sporting community. But let’s not waste our time trying to figure out what might go wrong. Let’s get to the ballpark, early and often. Let’s tune in wherever and whenever we can. Let’s applaud every hit, every homer, every strikeout. Let’s scream when we win and rally when we lose. In short, let’s enjoy the ride. Let’s dance in September.

And hopefully, in October too.

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