Tag: Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki Injury: Updates on Blue Jays Star’s Thumb and Return

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki‘s 2016 season took another turn for the worse Sunday. Manager John Gibbons said he suffered a “small little chip fracture” in his thumb, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. 

Continue for updates. 

Tulowitzki Could Avoid Disabled List

Sunday, July 31

Smith said the team will observe how Tulowitzki “progresses” before deciding if the shortstop will head to the disabled list. 

Tulowitzki already hit the disabled list this season after suffering a right quad strain in May. That was just the tip of the iceberg for the former All-Star. 

Prior to his first stint on the DL, the shortstop was hitting .204/.289/.383 in 46 games. He did have eight home runs, but none of his other skills were showing up in the stat line. He has a long injury history and is now 31 years old, so the window for him to be an elite shortstop may have already closed. He is slashing .241/.308/.452 with 17 homers as of Sunday.

The Blue Jays have depth in the middle of their infield, though. Darwin Barney and Devon Travis will likely be asked to shoulder the load in Tulowitzki’s absence.

If the Blue Jays are going to reach the postseason in the tight American League East race, Tulowitzki may have to play at least close to his usual standards. Their lineup is deep enough—with Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion—to survive without him, but a healthy Tulowitzki gives them more offense than most teams in the majors.

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Troy Tulowitzki’s Revival Adds Thunder to Blue Jays’ Surging Offense

A red-hot Troy Tulowitzki fitting into a red-hot lineup is just what the Toronto Blue Jays had in mind when they traded for him last July.

Almost a year later, they’re getting what they wished for.

The Blue Jays entered Thursday’s contest against the Detroit Tigers at the Rogers Centre in search of their sixth straight win. It seemed prepared to elude them, as Detroit was clinging to a 4-3 lead with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. But then Tulo happened, delivering a two-run single to propel the Blue Jays to a 5-4 win.

That single was the second of Tulo’s two hits on the day. With those in the bag, he’s now hitting .328 in 17 games since coming off the disabled list. He also has seven bombs in that span and, if you’re into such things, 20 RBI.

This is what a person who’s bad at being original would call a complete 180.

Tulowitzki’s batting average was under the Mendoza Line as recently as May 19, and he was hitting only .204 when a quad strain sent him to the DL. And over his first 373 (regular-season) plate appearances as a Blue Jay, he was hitting just .221 with a .685 OPS. After hitting .299 with an .885 OPS in parts of 10 seasons with the Colorado Rockies, the writing on the wall said the veteran shortstop was out of gas.

However, something happened while Tulo was out rehabbing his injury.

“I really think that I went down to Florida, it gave me a chance to work on my swing, get back to some good things that I did,” the 31-year-old told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. “I think I’ve carried that over. When confidence comes, you start having some success. I’m really just trying to be myself. I think this is really who I am.”

Tulowitzki got a big mechanical change out of the way earlier in the season, ditching a leg kick he had experimented with in spring training in favor of his usual toe tap. The difference since his return has more to do with his approach. It’s gotten more aggressive, but without getting out of control:

Based on that first column, it’s fair to say Tulo has come off the DL looking to swing his way out of his slump. Since it hasn’t cost him any contact or walks, it’s also fair to say it’s working.

The most important change, though, is reflected in the way Tulowitzki lined Thursday’s game-winning hit to the opposite field. Whereas his pre-DL Blue Jays self was trying to pull everything, his post-DL self is making an effort not to pull everything:

  • Pre-DL: 52.1 Pull%
  • Post-DL: 40.4 Pull%

The non-geeky summary: Tulo has snapped out of it and gone back to being a dangerous hitter. The fair warning based on the small sample size is that he probably won’t stay this hot indefinitely. But if he can maintain a role as a productive member of the Blue Jays lineup, they’ll take it.

After all, it’s not like they need Tulo to carry their offense.

Remember when the Blue Jays offense made all other offenses look like little league chumps last year? That level of dominance had trouble carrying over into 2016. Toronto managed just a .709 OPS and four runs per game in April, hardly numbers befitting a supposed super-duper offense.

It’s been a different story since then, and one that’s getting more impressive by the day. The Blue Jays scored 4.3 runs per game in May, then 5.9 in June. Early in July, they’re at 7.1 runs per game.

Tulo’s role in this shouldn’t be ignored, but neither should Josh Donaldson’s and Edwin Encarnacion’s.

Donaldson entered Thursday with a 1.234 OPS over his last 32 games, and two more hits against the Tigers upped his total OPS to 1.018. Nothing about that is an accident. As Dave Cameron of FanGraphs highlighted, the reigning American League MVP just keeps finding ways to get better.

Encarnacion has been hotter for even longer. He entered Thursday with a 1.110 OPS over 39 games dating back to late May. That’s come complete with 13 home runs.

With the big boppers bopping like it’s nobody’s boppin’ business, all the other guys have had to do is pull their weight. They’ve more than been up to the challenge. Michael Saunders has been hot all year. More recently, Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis have added warm bats to the pile.

Arguably the scariest tidbit of all is who hasn’t been involved in Toronto’s surging offense. Jose Bautista has been out since June 16 with a bad toe. If he can come back and pick up where he left off (.815 OPS, 12 homers), the Blue Jays will pull off a baseball version of the rich getting richer.

In the immortal words of Dennis Green, these Blue Jays are who we thought they were.

They figured to resemble last year’s team, which was really good at scoring runs and good enough at run prevention. They’re only getting better at the former and just as good at the latter. After allowing 4.14 runs per game last year, this year’s Blue Jays are allowing 4.18 runs per game.

What it means for now is a 49-39 record and quite a bit of momentum. They’re only two games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and the lead feels even smaller than that.

May the best birds win.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Troy Tulowitzki Injury: Updates on Blue Jays Star’s Quadriceps and Return

Toronto Blue Jays star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was placed on the disabled list due to a quadriceps strain on Saturday, as the team announced. It’s unclear when he will return.

Continue for updates.

Tulowitzki Suffers Injury on HBP

Saturday, May 28

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Tulowitzki tweaked his quad after falling down on a hit-by-pitch on Friday, per Scott MacArthur of TSN.

Tulowitzki said it’s a low-grade strain and that he expects to be back in 15 days, per Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star.

Tulowitzki, 31, is one of the big bats in Toronto’s scary lineups. Between the Colorado Rockies and Blue Jays last year, he hit .280 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI in 128 games. He struggled in Toronto, however, hitting just .239 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 41 games.

He offered a mixed bag in the postseason, batting .205 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 11 contests.

That left two major concerns for Tulowitzki coming into the 2016 campaign: Could he stay healthy, and would he dispel the notion that he was far less effective away from Coors Field? 

He’s hitting .204 with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 46 games this season.

Health has always been a major issue for the star shortstop, who hasn’t played in 140 or more games since 2011. When he stays on the field, he’s one of the game’s top options at the position and one of the most dangerous players at the plate in baseball. Landing him last year was supposed to give the Blue Jays something of a modern Murderer’s Row, alongside Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. 

It remains to be seen if that will materialize, however. If Tulo’s latest injury setback is serious, it will be a blow to Toronto’s lineup, though the team obviously has the sluggers to remain dangerous. 

With Tulowitzki sidelined, Darwin Barney will take over as the team’s starting shortstop unless the Blue Jays trade for another option at the position.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.  

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Troy Tulowitzki Injury: Updates on Blue Jays Star’s Hand and Return

Toronto Blue Jays All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki exited the field during Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets after getting hit by a Bartolo Colon pitch on the right hand.

Continue for updates.

Tulowitzki Out with Bone Bruise

Wednesday, March 23

The Blue Jays announced that Tulowitzki is officially listed as day-to-day with a bone bruise after his X-rays came back negative. 

Tulowitzki had rib and back ailments toward the end of the 2015 season for the reigning American League East division champions. The former Colorado Rockies standout arrived in Toronto by way of a deadline trade and helped the Jays to the postseason.

Injuries have unfortunately been a prominent part of Tulowitzki’s career and have prevented him from realizing his full potential. He admitted last February to being frustrated by the numerous ailments that have plagued him.

No one can replace Tulo’s combination of hitting prowess and Gold Glove fielding. This is a huge year for the veteran shortstop, playing away from Coors Field for a full season for the first time in his career and trying to prove he can remain healthy as he moves into his age-31 season. 

Going off the club’s official depth chart, utility infielder Darwin Barney figures to be the one to step in while Tulowitzki recovers. Barney is a solid glove in the middle infield, but his bat is a steep drop compared to what Tulo can do at his best. 

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Bloated MLB Contracts Who Can Actually Be Trade Assets This Winter

Without a doubt, Major League Baseball teams hand their players the most ridiculous contracts—in money and length—in all of North American professional sports. 

It is a reason to scoff at cynics who claim baseball is a dying sport, but it is also ammunition for heated debates about just how bad some deals might be, in terms of dollars, duration or both. There are plenty to choose from thanks to owners and front offices willing to pay players greatly for past production while crossing their fingers for some of that production to happen in the future.

While certain players may be grossly and obviously overpaid, and for long periods of time, it does not mean they are bad players. And if some of them are considered in decline, it does not mean they are without value to their current teams or possibly new ones via offseason trade.

That is what this list of players is all about—those with bloated contracts who can still have some decent-to-high value on the trade market. Some of the players seem close to being completely washed up, while others still have the potential to be heavy contributors or even MVP candidates.

Trades for some of them might seem unlikely, but never say never when teams have more than three months of cold weather to negotiate.

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Of Dollars and Deals: Previewing a Most Intriguing 2015-16 MLB Offseason

A former general manager in Philadelphia has become the first base coach in Boston (Ruben Amaro), a former GM who became an interim manager in Miami was fired and told he couldn’t return to his old GM job that had been promised (Dan Jennings), and the GM who pulled off a second-half miracle in Toronto (Alex Anthopoulos) walked away from a five-year extension offer because he couldn’t stomach working with the Blue Jays’ new president (Mark Shapiro).

Meanwhile, a deal for one manager in Washington (Bud Black) fell through when the Nationals essentially offered newbie terms (one year? Really?), and the Yankees fanboy owner in Miami nearly strained his groin leaping at the chance to grab the ex-Dodgers skipper and former Yankees first baseman as his new manager (Don Mattingly).

Storylines for the hit television show Scandal?

Um, not quite.

Not since the Bizarro episode of the No. 1 Mets fan’s old show (Jerry Seinfeld) have things been this backwards around the grand old game, which only leaves one giant question: What else is sneaking up to the wintertime on-deck circle?

Well, I can’t guarantee that the one-time rock star Padres GM (A.J. Preller) won’t hire a Kindergarten Cop to help his new boy wonder manager (Andy Green), but I can guarantee that what follows is much of what we’ll be talking about during the next two or three months.

A road map to this winter’s Hot Stove League:


Most Intriguing Team

The Boston Red Sox.

With new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski now running things, don’t expect the Red Sox to be shy this winter. Industry wonks fully expect the Red Sox to make a big splash in the free-agent starting pitching market after last year’s failed run at Jon Lester.

Boston’s plan to collect workhorses (Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, etc.) instead of show horses for its rotation landed the 2015 Sox in the glue factory. There is no question that the Sox need an ace, and with resources even deeper than he had in Detroit, Dombrowski could tap into his relationship with David Price. And if that doesn’t turn out, the Sox could tap into senior vice president Allard Baird’s relationship with Zack Greinke. Baird was the GM in Kansas City when Greinke was there, and the two are close.

The Red Sox would love to trade Hanley Ramirez, who is so difficult that he doesn’t even listen to himself. When he was with the Dodgers, the Hanley Man proudly plastered a sticker reading “Attitude is Everything. Pick a Good One” above his locker. With this guy? Yeah, right.


Most Intriguing Team, Bronx Edition

OK, so if the Red Sox are the most intriguing team, what about the Yankees?

In recent years, the Yankees have shown a disinclination to push their luxury tax to any further heights. Indications are that will continue, which means New York GM Brian Cashman will spend a lot more time talking to Jeff Samardzija than to David Price or Johnny Cueto.

Masahiro Tanaka (mostly) made it through the year with his elbow intact, Michael Pineda is a force much of the time, and Luis Severino left the Bronx wanting more. CC Sabathia was headed into alcohol rehabilitation the last we heard from him, and as the sun sets on his career, it is hard to say what he will provide for the Yankees in 2016.    

What this club needs is an upgrade at second base, badly. They could look crosstown, where Daniel Murphy spent part of October imitating Babe Ruth and then spent the World Series imitating a rusty gate. Howie Kendrick, the former Angel turned Dodger, is a free agent as well.


Most Intriguing Player

Right-hander Johnny Cueto.

Last July the Royals traded for Johnny B. Ace, but too often he was only Johnny B. Goode, or Johnny B. Mediocre. That is, until Game 2 of the World Series, when he was brilliant in a complete-game, 7-1 victory.

Whether that was the exclamation point on a career resume that could score Cueto something close to Max Scherzer‘s $15 million annual salary over five or six years, we’re about to find out. When Cueto went into a second-half funk, there were whispers that he was homesick for Cincinnati. The trade was hard on him.

What the Royals eventually learned is that this is one sensitive cat, and rowdy road crowds (Toronto in the ALCS, Pittsburgh in the Wild Card Game a couple of years ago) can get into his head. Which is why the Royals arranged their rotation to ensure that Cueto pitched at home in the comforts of Kauffman Stadium in the World Series, starting the aforementioned Game 2 and, had the Series lasted beyond five games, Game 6.

When he’s on, Cueto is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. When his sensitive nature takes over, he can get rattled enough to drop the ball on the mound. As his market develops, look for the Giants, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, Astros and Diamondbacks, among others, to check in.


The Wreck That Is the Nationals

Just three years ago, the Nationals posted the best record in the major leagues and looked like locks to at least play in a World Series, if not win one, in the very near future.

Since then, this vast collection of talent with no soul has shifted into reverse. You wonder why this year’s team disappointed? How in the world it could have acquired a buffoon like Jonathan Papelbon at the deadline? How a manager could not notice Papelbon trying to choke Bryce Harper in the middle of a game?

All of that was disgusting enough.

Now, instead of digging out of the humiliation, the Nationals are digging in.

The collapse of the deal for Bud Black to manage the Nationals speaks volumes about this organization and a culture so misguided that at this point, MapQuest couldn’t even help point it in the right direction.

The initial offer to Black, according to Bleacher Report sources, was one year at $1.6 million. When Black rightfully balked, the Nats increased the offer to two years at a salary lower than Black made when he was managing the Padres.

Though the dollars were a joke, the worst part of the entire thing was the initial offer of one year. What that screams in neon letters is, “This organization is not committed to you.” Former manager Matt Williams had completely lost the clubhouse, so the new manager has much heavy lifting to do, and that is impossible on a one-year deal because the players will just read that as a ship passing through the night.

There is industry speculation that the Nationals could trade Stephen Strasburg this winter. Starters Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, center fielder Denard Span and shortstop Ian Desmond all are free agents this winter.

It is impossible to read the one-year offer to Black as anything other than that of a confused organization unsure of its near-term plans. Is a fire sale forthcoming? A major overhaul of the roster?

Into this mess sails manager Dusty Baker. Good luck. He’ll need it.


The Heat Index: Pitchers

Top starting pitchers on the free-agent market:

David Price: In the past, he’s waxed rhapsodic about the Cubs, and his former manager in Tampa Bay, Joe Maddon, is in Chicago. But with the Cubs already paying a small fortune to Lester, it’s difficult to see them paying Price, too. The Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants are among those expected to pursue him hard. And if St. Louis jumps in, the Cardinals could become instant favorites.

Zack GreinkeBy the time he signs with somebody, Greinke could have a second Cy Young Award on his resume. The Dodgers have a chance to re-sign him at a significantly higher deal than the one he just opted out of—they’ve got the money, and he likes it there. If not, the Red Sox and Giants will be among the suitors.

Johnny Cueto: Game 2 of the World Series will be a big selling point.

Jordan Zimmermann: Overshadowed in the Nats‘ rotation by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Zimmermann has thrown 195 or more innings in each of the past four seasons and went 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 33 starts last season.


The Hit List: Hitters

Top hitters on the market:

Yoenis CespedesWill he score a $150 million deal? Not from the New York Mets, he won’t. Sensational in the second half in leading the Mets to the NL East title, Cespedes wasn’t the same hitter after he took a fastball to his left hand in a Sept. 30 game against the Phillies. Then, last we saw of him in the World Series, he fouled a fastball off of a kneecap and limped off the field. What is working in the Mets’ favor right now is that there do not appear to be a lot of teams that will be in his market.

Jason Heyward: The Cardinals would like to re-sign him. And they probably should; otherwise, that Shelby Miller trade might haunt them.

Justin Upton: Streaky hitter who can carry a team for two weeks and then disappear for two weeks. With Carlos Beltran fading, the Yankees could really use him.

Chris Davis: The last two years that he’s played in 160 games, he’s hit 47 homers (2015) and 53 homers (2013). In just 127 games in 2014, he hit 26 homers. He’s 29 and becoming a free agent just as many teams are looking for offense.

Ben Zobrist: He’s played on winning teams in Kansas City and Tampa Bay and is incredibly versatile, able to play second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield. The one downside is he turns 35 next May.


World Champions: What About the Royals’ Winter?

The business of baseball never stops, but it especially brings the reality of a cold winter home to the World Series champions. This year, it is Kansas City’s turn, and the Royals are facing the loss of four key players: outfielder Alex Gordon, the versatile Ben Zobrist, ace Johnny Cueto and closer Greg Holland.

It should be noted that the Royals have never paid more than $55 million for any free agent. That was for right-hander Gil Meche ahead of the 2007 season—and four years later, unable to perform up to his own expectations, he graciously walked away and let the Royals keep the remaining $12 million on his contract.


Ex-and-Future World Champions: What About the Giants’ Winter?

Well, if they stick to their modern win-in-even-years script, the Giants will enter 2016 as World Series favorites, right? After all, they’ve won it all in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

If last year’s pursuit of Jon Lester is any indication, as well as their pitching-rich structure under GM Brian Sabean (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson), expect the Giants to be in on David Price, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann, among others this winter. Re-signing Mike Leake isn’t out of the question, either.


Who Leads the Dodgers?

There is just one managerial opening left, and it is in Dodger Stadium. Industry speculation is that farm director and former outfielder Gabe Kapler is the favorite to land the job, being that his philosophy and thoughts are copacetic with the analytic-strong brain trust of Andrew Friedman, Josh Byrnes and Farhan Zaidi.

Dave Roberts, most recently the Padres’ bench coach, interviewed very well the other day, according to Bleacher Report sources. And bench coach Tim Wallach and third base coach Ron Roenicke from Don Mattingly‘s staff are possibilities. The Dodgers also interviewed Nebraska coach and former Angels outfielder Darin Erstad.

And now that the deal with the Nationals fell apart, Bud Black remains available.


The Daniel Murphy Question

Fortunately, Mets GM Sandy Alderson appeared OK after fainting while meeting with the New York media on Wednesday. Tabloid Fever, perhaps? He was answering a question at the time about outfielder Juan Lagares, not whether the Mets would make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to second baseman Daniel Murphy.

That was the hot topic a couple of weeks ago when the Mets were meeting the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS and Murphy was in the process of slamming home runs in six consecutive postseason games. Then came a look at his fielding in the World Series, and the question sort of answered itself. The Mets can’t make that qualifying offer to Murphy, can they?


Stephen Strasburg and This Winter’s Trade Market

The Nationals could deal right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who is a year away from free agency and surely won’t sign a hometown discount deal with the Nationals given that his agent is Scott Boras. The Nats at least listened on Strasburg last winter, according to sources, and industry speculation is that they could move him this winter. Also, look for them to deal closer Drew Storen, who badly needs a fresh start.

The Dodgers could trade outfielder Yasiel Puig as they continue to transform the clubhouse culture there post-Matt Kemp. With Enrique Hernandez and Joc Pederson emerging in the outfield, and with Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier there, Puig could be the trade bait that brings another much-needed starting pitcher.

The Cubs could fill a starting pitching need by dealing infielder Starlin Castro, who has been displaced at shortstop by Addison Russell. By cheerfully moving to second base, Castro only helped his trade value.

The Padres badly need to retool their roster and will shop closer Craig Kimbrel and starter James Shields. They will listen on starters Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner.

The Reds likely will deal closer Aroldis Chapman after shopping him last July, and lots of teams will ask them about third baseman Todd Frazier.

The Red Sox picked up the option on right-hander Clay Buchholz, but don’t be surprised if they deal him away as Dombrowski looks to remake the rotation.

With Alex Anthopoulos splitting from Toronto, indications are that the Blue Jays may trim salary, and it could begin with Troy Tulowitzki, who is guaranteed $98 million through 2020.

The Rockies, after breaking up their one-two punch last summer with the Tulowitzki deal, could follow that by trading outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Colorado is a team badly in need of a fresh start.


Don’t Do That Again

Reminder: We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary (Nov. 28) when Oakland gifted Toronto by trading Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays.

Donaldson, of course, is expected to be named AL MVP later this month.

So now what do the quick-trigger A’s do this winter? Trade away ace Sonny Gray? Believe this: Many teams will put on the full-court press to acquire Gray, and don’t be surprised if the Red Sox and Yankees are among them.


Will the Padres be Wild and Crazy?

Last winter, there was no deal GM A.J. Preller wouldn’t have made, including swapping 12 fish tacos for a brand new basketball. It was riveting. It was refreshing. It was, ultimately, all sizzle and no steak. The Padres finished 74-88, worse than they did in 2014 (77-85).

Don’t expect Preller to command the spotlight this winter to the degree he did last year. But among the many reasons why the Padres were several tacos short of a combination plate this season was a gaping hole at shortstop. The Padres will look at free agents Ian Desmond and Asdrubal Cabrera, and this week the White Sox non-tendered Alexei Ramirez.

If the free-agent market isn’t the ticket, the Padres could acquire a shortstop via trade, and they will be open for business all winter. Closer Craig Kimbrel and right-handed starter Tyson Ross are their best chips. They will shop starter James Shields hard, and Andrew Cashner is another possibility.


Two Under-the-Radar Free Agents Who Could Turn Things Around

Toronto’s Marco Estrada went 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA in 34 appearances (28 starts) and threw 181 innings.

Texas’ Yovani Gallardo went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts and threw 184.1 innings.

For those clubs that are in need of pitching but don’t have the bankroll to chase Price and Cueto, Estrada and Gallardo are pretty good alternatives.


Too-Early Predictions: The 2016 World Series Winner Will Be…

If the Cubs make a couple of right moves to improve their rotation, look out. We know their core of young players featuring Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and others is legit. Let’s see…add, hmmm, David Price, or Johnny Cueto, or even a couple of second-tier arms for better depth, and the Cubs could be in business.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Troy Tulowitzki’s Signature Blue Jays Moment Puts Toronto Back on ALDS Map

In a literal sense, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t need Troy Tulowitzki‘s three-run homer on Sunday.

The blast came in the sixth inning of Toronto’s pivotal Game 3 win over the Texas Rangers. The Jays were already leading 2-0 and went on to win 5-1 to stay alive in the best-of-five division series, which the Rangers now lead 2-1.

So Tulo’s RBI were pure insurance, mere glaze on the doughnut. Really, though, they were a lot more than that.

First, the home run instantly became Tulowitzki’s signature Blue Jays moment.

When the All-Star shortstop arrived north of the border at the trade deadline via a deal with the basement-dwelling Colorado Rockies, the hope was that he’d gild Toronto’s already loaded offense. And he teased big things, collecting five hits in his first 14 Blue Jays at-bats, including a home run.

But a shoulder injury suffered in a collision with teammate Kevin Pillar put Tulowitzki on the shelf. And while the Jays’ bats kept raking into October, it was worth wondering what, if any, contribution Tulo would offer.

For the first two games of the ALDS, the answer was “not much.” The Jays sagged in general, but Tulowitzki was a non-entity, going 0-for-10 with four strikeouts and five men left on base.

The Blue Jays aimed their ire at the umpires after some questionable calls in Game 2. But clearly, the issues ran deeper than that. Ace David Price, another trade-deadline addition, stumbled in Game 1, surrendering five earned runs in seven wobbly innings. And a lineup that led all of baseball in runs scored, home runs, OPS and a host of other statistical categories looked listless.

Toronto needed a spark, a jolt, a swift kick in the backside or its first postseason foray in 22 years was going to be short and sour.

Starter Marco Estrada set the tone early on Sunday, putting up zeroes with his off-speed array as the Blue Jays built their lead. 

When Tulo stepped to the plate in the sixth, though, it felt like a turning point.

The Blue Jays had just loaded the bases with nobody out, only to watch Chris Colabello ground into a 3-2-3 double play. In an instant, a surefire scoring opportunity was in danger of fizzling.

Instead, Tulowitzki ensured the big inning would happen after all, launching a 3-2 changeup over the left field wall.

“It was huge and, in the moment, I was definitely pumped up,” Tulowitzki said, per Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. “Got back to the dugout and everybody was excited. It was a little breathing room.” 

Tulo was indeed visibly psyched as he rounded the bases, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick noted:

No wonder—that was his first home run since Sept. 6, and the first long ball he’s blasted in the postseason since 2007, when he and the Rockies made a surprise World Series run.

If the Blue Jays are going to make their own Fall Classic appearance, they’ll need more thump from Tulo, plus his potent cohorts, including Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and AL MVP hopeful Josh Donaldson, who collected two hits and scored a run on Sunday.

In Game 4 on Monday, another must-win, the Blue Jays will face left-hander Derek Holland. That’s good news for Toronto’s mashers, who led all of baseball with an .818 OPS against southpaws. And while a bright red sample-size warning light should flash above this stat, Tulo is 2-for-3 in his career against Holland.

The point is, Toronto is back in this series after teetering on the brink of an embarrassing collapse. The Blue Jays entered the playoffs as a squad many, including yours truly, labeled a legitimate juggernaut. Now, with two more wins, they can prove it and stamp a ticket to the American League Championship Series. 

Price, who undoubtedly wants a shot at redemption, is available for Game 4—which knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is slated to start—and will be ready to roll for a potential Game 5, per Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith

Still, this budding comeback is a tall order, as Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi pointed out prior to Game 3:

Forty-seven times teams have fallen behind 2-0 in the best-of-five division series, and only five of them have fought back to advance in the baseball post-season. …

As hackneyed as it sounds, any potential rally by the Blue Jays starts with that one elusive win, much the way it did for the 1995 Mariners over the Yankees, the 1999 Red Sox over the Indians, the 2001 Yankees over the Athletics, the 2003 Red Sox over the Athletics, and, of course, the 2012 Giants.

The Jays got that first win, and Tulo got his first postseason knock in a Toronto uniforma big fly no less. Even if the runs he plated were superfluous, that means a lot.


All statistics current as of Oct. 11 and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Blue Jays vs. Rangers ALDS Game 3: Live Score and Instant Reaction

FINAL SCORE: Blue Jays 5 – 1 Rangers

Troy Tulowitzki belted a three-run homer in the top of the sixth to help lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Sunday night.

With the win, the Blue Jays forced a Game 4 on Monday and put the pressure on the Rangers to try and end the series before having to go back to Toronto.

Before the sixth inning, Texas managed to turn four double plays to end some Toronto rallies and lessen the damage. The Blue Jays got on the board in the top of the third when Dioner Navarro came around to score after starting the inning off with a double.

Toronto added another run in the top of the fourth when Martin Perez walked three-straight batters to force in a run with the bases loaded against Tulowitzki, who finished the game with four RBI after not having a postseason hit.

Texas scored in the seventh with its first run when Rougned Odor grounded out and scored Elvis Andrus from third.

Game 4 will be played Monday night when the Blue Jays try to keep momentum and the Rangers try to wake up their bats.

40-year-old R.A. Dickey (11-11, 3.91 ERA) is slated to start the game for the Blue Jays. The knuckleballer will be taking the mound in his first career postseason start.

Derek Holland (4-3, 4.91 ERA) will toe the rubber for Texas. The lefty could have potentially started in Game 3, but a history of giving up home runs pushed his start back to Monday night with the hopes that he might not have to face a tough Toronto lineup.

It will be interesting to see if Adrian Beltre will be healthy enough to come back to the Texas lineup after missing two games with a back injury. He would definitely provide a much needed spark to a batting order that looked a little out of sorts on Sunday.

David Price also could make an appearance in relief for the Jays. If he does, will he be protecting a lead or trying to prevent more damage? The lefty is 0-6 as a starter in the postseason.

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MLB Playoff Predictions: Key Injuries Facing Playoff Contenders

The injury bug often rears its mighty head at the most inopportune times in Major League Baseball. The optimism of a team can quickly disappear when a key player goes down. And when the injury warrants a lengthy recovering timesometimesthat optimism is crushed completely.

With the 2015 MLB playoffs right around the corner, postseason contenders will have their fingers crossed that injuries will be avoided from here on out.

All teams have had to deal with injuries this season—some worse than others. Many of those teams were able to overcome their misfortunes to this point, while others face recent injuries without much time to recover.

When it comes to playoff successes, the healthier team seems to have the better shot at long-term success. That’s not always the case, but a key injury down the stretch can sometimes be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

The slides ahead will focus on the key injuries that each playoff contender is currently facing this season and whether they can overcome said injuries in postseason competition. That’s not to say that every injury will be listed for each team, but key players will be noted as best as possible.

Teams that are listed would make the playoffs if the season ended as of Friday night.

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Blue Jays’ Big Sweep of Yankees Proves Even Tulowitzki Loss Can’t Stop Offense

The wins are great, but the injury curbs some of the enthusiasm. 

The Toronto Blue Jays went into the Bronx knowing a series win could give them a significant cushion in the American League East. On Saturday night, they secured that victory, taking the first three games of a four-game weekend against the New York Yankees to pump their division lead to 4.5 games. 

That is a commanding lead considering only 20 games remain in the Blue Jays’ regular season, while the Yankees have 21 to play without controlling their own fate within the division. The three Toronto wins, including Saturday’s sweep of a doubleheader, give it a 93 percent probability of winning the East, according to FanGraphs’ playoff odds.

Right now, the only thing dampening the impending triumph is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s left shoulder blade, which cracked upon impact with center fielder Kevin Pillar during the first of Saturday’s two games.

Tulowitzki, who went to Toronto in the blockbuster trade that sent Jose Reyes to the Colorado Rockies before the non-waiver trade deadline, will be monitored in the coming days before the Blue Jays’ medical staff determines his timeline for a return.

This certainly could be a significant blow, and Tulowitzki could be out for a while. Considering the role the shoulders play in a baseball swing, and considering a crack is the same as a break or a fracture, it seems like a long shot at this point that the Blue Jays will get their starting shortstop back at any point for the rest of the regular or postseason.

For now, the team has to wait and see. MLB reporter Gregor Chisholm and former NFL team doctor David J. Chao weighed in:

While the initial news is bad, this is not a deathblow by any stretch. The Blue Jays are the hitting-est team in Major League Baseball, and their lineup is the most intimidating the sport has to offer at this point. Even without Tulowitzki.

That is because he has mostly been intimidating in name only since joining the Blue Jays. Tulowitzki had a stellar debut with his new club, going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a home run. Since then and going into Saturday, he had hit .221/.308/.329 with a below-average 90 OPS+ in 37 games, showing that the team’s 30-9 record since acquiring him—before Saturday’s sweep—was due to the team’s improved pitching and the boppers that come before him in a stacked lineup.

Despite Tulowitzki’s lack of offensive production, the Blue Jays had a .282/.354/.485 team slash line with an .839 OPS while averaging more than six runs a game in their previous 39 games entering Saturday. Then, they scored 19 runs in the doubleheader against the Yankees.

That is truly incredible offensive production, but the Blue Jays have become much more than a video game lineup over the last month-and-a-half.

The offense had been great all season, but the team lacked adequate starting pitching. That is why it traded for ace David Price along with bullpen help before the July 31 deadline. Since then, the staff had put up a 3.37 ERA in the 36 games before Saturday, when it allowed a total of 12 runs in the two games.

And they’ve also done well in meaningful games on the road with the division on the line. The Canadian Press’ Melissa Couto relayed this stat:

When your offense is capable of double-digit outputs on any night against any pitcher the opposing team has to offer—according to Chisholm, the Blue Jays have scored 10 or more runs 24 times this season, the most since the 2011 Boston Red Sox—that is plenty of production from the mound.

“That’s what our offense does, they score runs and today was a perfect example of that,” Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada told reporters Saturday. “We put it all together.”

That is why Tulowitzki’s injury will not derail the Blue Jays. A lineup that features MVP candidate Josh Donaldson (38 home runs), Jose Bautista (35 home runs) and Edwin Encarnacion (32 home runs) can absorb an injury to a so-so offensive cog and keep right on rolling. Plus, Ryan Goins, assuming he replaces Tulowitzki at shortstop, had a .420 OBP in his last 69 plate appearances before Saturday.

The Blue Jays might have started rolling right around the time they acquired Tulowitzki, but he clearly has not been the sole reason, nor one of the top ones, for the Blue Jays being on the verge of winning their first AL East title since 1993, the last time they qualified for the playoffs.

They are better with Tulowitzki, but even without him they look like one of the most complete teams in the league and are a legitimate contender to win the pennant.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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