Jays’ Gibbons on Biagini start: ‘What did you think?’
The Joe Biagini Experiment — which sounds like a prog rock album from the 1970’s — surely must be coming to a close.
After two seasons of trying to develop the right-hander into a major-league starter, his latest outing offered further proof that it’s likely not going to happen.
The third-year Jay, who the organization selected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft, lasted 4.2 innings in Toronto’s 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre. He gave up four runs on four hits (including a J.D. Martinez home run) and three walks, an improvement from his previous outing on May 3 in Cleveland when he gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4.1 innings.
But it was also his third non-quality start of 2018 for the Jays after going 3-13 as a starter in Toronto last year with a 5.34 ERA. He has lost seven consecutive decisions.
In his first year in Toronto, Biagini was a revelation as a reliever, posting a 3.06 ERA in 67.2 innings. But at spring training this season, he was penned as the club’s sixth starter and shipped to triple-A.
As a starter in Buffalo, his performance has been largely forgettable (0-3 with a 4.57 ERA in four starts). Biagini averaged 94.3 mph on his fastball out of the bullpen his first year with the Jays in 2016, but it’s gone down progressively since they’ve tried turning him back into a starter (93.8 last year and 92.3 this season).
Talk is starting to surface that the Jays may have mishandled Biagini’s career, though the organization, including manager John Gibbons, seem to be resisting the idea of putting him back into the bullpen. In fact, he seemed to take umbrage when asked what he thought of the big right-hander’s performance on Sunday.
“What did you think?” said Gibbons.
When told that nobody cares what a baseball journalist thinks, Gibbons replied: “I care. I want to see if you saw it like I did.”
When told Biagini seemed a little erratic, Gibbons said: “Actually, I thought he had some good stuff today. He battled, you know, but we’re having to play catch-up definitely too much. And that makes it tough on a team.”
With Marcus Stroman out with right shoulder fatigue, the question now becomes if the Jays will need another spot start this week and, if so, by whom? Biagini? Or perhaps the newly recalled Deck McGuire or Sam Gaviglio.
“Don’t worry about that now, will ya?,” said Gibbons when asked if he was committed to another start for Biagini. “The last time we heard that was — who was the guy, Jay?”
Jays media VP Jay Stenhouse replied: “Chien-Ming Wang.”
“Chien-Ming Wang,” retorted Gibbons. “We heard that after every start he made.”
Gibbons was referring to the Taiwanese media that followed Wang around in 2013 when he pitched for the Jays.
Gibbons then bristled when asked if there was a chance he would go with McGuire or Gaviglio if another spot start is needed for Stroman.
“That’s just another way of asking the question,” Gibbons said. “What, do you think I’m stupid? Probably. But I’m not.”
For his part, Biagini also seems determined to remain a starter, even if that means having to go up and down from Buffalo.
“It’s definitely a challenge to come up here, make a couple of starts, go down there, make some starts, come back and forth and have be in different places,” he said. “Just dealing with all that is, again, a great opportunity for me.
Disappointing to be on the wrong end of it but, you just try to do the best you can.”
Biagini’s teammates didn’t do him any favours early in Sunday’s game. They put men on base in all four innings to start the game, but failed to cash in any runs. With Biagini out of the game, they scored three runs in the fifth.
The Jays went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base. Boston also stole four bases. In the third, Biagini walked Jackie Bradley Jr., to lead off the inning and then seemingly got Mookie Betts to hit into a double play, but Jays second baseman Yangervis Solarte broke to the bag on the play and everyone was safe. Bradley later scored.
Toronto has now dropped four consecutive series.
Martinez hit his 10th home run of the season to Boston up 2-0 in the first, a shot over the fence in right field.
GIBBONS PUTS UP THE STOP SIGN ON CONTROVERSIAL PLAY
When Yangervis Solarte was thrown out at home in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game at the Rogers Centre, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was not about to throw his third base coach Luis Rivera under the bus.
The Jays trailed the Red Sox 4-3 in the inning and were desperate to tie it. With Solarte at first and two out, Russell Martin doubled through the hole at shortstop and Solarte was waved home by Rivera. Solarte was nailed at the plate on A good relay sequence by left fielder Andrew Benintendi to Xander Bogaerts at short to catcher Christian Vazquez. Many felt that Rivera was wrong to send Solarte home when the out seemed kind of obvious — even though the next batter was Kendrys Morales, who is hitting .154.
“He got thrown out at the plate so obv…” Gibbons started, before pausing.
“The third base coaching job is the toughest job on the field and Luis does a good job over there,” Gibbons continued.
“Just trying to make something happen. When a team’s struggling, you’re trying to score some runs. You know those kind of things happen. But he does a great job if you’ve been noticing. Happens sometimes. Left field corner, that’s Satan’s corner down there, it can be a tough read.”
The Red Sox ended up scoring another run in the eighth for the 5-3 win.