Jays Watch: No wiggle-room in AL East
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - At roughly the quarter pole in a 162-game season, the snapshot of the American League East is rather different than the off-season predictions.
The Yankees and Red Sox were conceded to be the best outfits, followed closely by the Rays with some separation between those top three teams and the Jays and Orioles.
Instead, there is almost no wiggle-room in the division with four games between top and bottom going into Wednesday’s games.
“I’m sure you can point to a stretch in the schedule of every team where they’ve performed less than anticipated,” said Toronto manager John Farrell. “I think it will come down to consistency and starting rotations. Later in the season we will look back and ask why a certain team separated itself from the group and I think that’s where we’ll be pointing to.”
On that subject, Farrell said he’s starting to see some signs that his starting pitchers are demonstrating more consistency than early in the season.
“I feel like we’ve started to get a little rhythm with the rotation,” he said. “The last times out, guys have started to get a little deeper, which gives us the ability to stabilize the game on so many different fronts.”
Farrell is talking about a domino effect. If the starters go deeper on a consistent basis, he will be able to reduce his bullpen from eight men to seven and add a position player to the roster to improve his offensive options.
Hill bats fourth
Farrell pencilled Aaron Hill into the cleanup spot Wednesday, flip-flopping he and Edwin Encarnacion.
“It’s part of our pursuit to find some stability in the middle part of the order,” said the manager. “Aaron has swung the bat well on the road trip.”
Neither Hill nor Encarnacion has hit a home run but both have made solid contact recently.
“With quality at-bats, (home runs) will happen in due time,’ said Farrell. “Whether it’s a two-run double or something else, we’re just looking for hard contact, which both are giving us.”