TORONTO- Marco Estrada has been a pleasant surprise in the Blue Jays’ rotation. He may not an ace on paper, but he is sure pitching like one. Okay I’ll admit, I thought the fly-ball pitcher was going to get rough up all season long, especially pitching at a friendly-hitting ballpark like the Rogers Centre. But after watching him pitch last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, you couldn’t ask for a better performance.
Estrada was unhittable last Sunday as he silenced the Ray’s lineup. He pitched eight shutout innings, gave up three hits and striking out five. The Blue Jays gave him some support thanks to Chris Colabello and Jose Bautista’s 2-run home runs to help the team take a 4-0 victory.
(Courtesy of MLB.com)
Estrada’s fastball may not be overpowering, which only average around 88-90 mph, but he knows how to throw strikes. His changeup was biting late and shown some late movement. When his changeup is right, he can be very dangerous. He made the Rays looked silly yesterday with his fastball-changeup combination.
Whether or not if the Blue Jays make any additions at the trade deadline, Estrada definitely deserves to stick around in the rotation. Since joining the rotation in early May, he posted a 3.89 ERA in 13 starts. This makes him the club’s most reliable starting arm after Mark Buehrle. He pitched at least six innings of work in eight of his last eleven starts. Last Sunday was the sixth time that Estrada allowing two earned runs or less through six or more innings. Estrada is on pace to have one of his best season of his career, which may earn him a huge pay check as he’s a free agent after this season.
But the one thing that is so impressive with Estrada is that he haven’t give up a lot of home runs. Last season, he led the majors with twenty nine home runs allowed while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers. This season, he only allowed ten dingers in 95 innings. In his seven starts at the Rogers Centre, he only allowed 5 home runs.
Now that manager John Gibbons announced that Aaron Sanchez will return to the bullpen once he is activated from disabled list, Estrada is likely going to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season.
Estrada has quietly been one of the surprises for the Blue Jays. Many people thought on what the Blue Jays would do without Josh Donaldson. Imagine if the Blue Jays didn’t have Estrada in their rotation? Estrada is serviceable and the Blue Jays are going to keep relying on him to provide quality starts as they continue their quest to end their 21-year playoff drought.