The batting order’s been unsettled since Reyes went down, now with six hitters used in the leadoff slot and seven in the 2-hole.
For the past four games, with outfielder and occasional leadoff hitter Rajai Davis on the DL, Gibbons has gone 1-2-3 with Cabrera (.438, three doubles, four RBIs), Bautista (.533, two HR, five RBIs) and Encarnacion (.400, one HR, five RBIs).
Bautista raised his average to .262 with four consecutive multihit games into Friday, reaching base in 19 of 20 games; Encarnacion, hitting .240, leads the team with 11 homers and 30 RBIs.
Of 15 AL teams, the rotation ranks 15th for wins and walks allowed, 14th for earned run average and walks-and-hits per inning pitched, 13th for innings pitched, 12th for batting average against, 11th for strikeouts.
Dickey (3-5, 4.83) dealt with back spasms that may have contributed to his total of 24 walks, otherwise his numbers are closely tracking last year’s in New York when he won the NL Cy Young with the Mets. He has received the worst run support (3.0 per game) of any of the regular starters. Mark Buehrle (1-2, 6.19) struggled mechanically with his change-up and overall location and has surrendered 11 homers. As a ground-ball pitcher, he has been especially affected by tragic infield defence.
Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.86) had a spring so spectacular that former Jay Dan Plesac of the MLB Network predicted a Cy Young Award. Once the season began, his velocity and command were down, and he succumbed to a triceps stain on April 29. Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.69) has been inconsistent. Happ (2-2, 4.91) started promisingly before his command began to erode, then he was struck on the side of the head with a line drive in Tampa and is now on the disabled list.
Result: When opponents score first, the Blue Jays have a 6-18 record. The Jays have reduced the size of the run differential (175 for, 210 against) significantly, but it still stands at minus-35.
Consequence: Nine different pitchers have started a game. With Johnson and Happ out, the Jays have turned to 39-year-old Ramon Ortiz and 25-year-old Chad Jenkins, the latter with a total of four major-league starts.
The lack of innings logged by the rotation has placed enormous pressure on the bullpen, which lost setup man Santos, after only five appearances, on April 14. Yet the pen, thought to be a weakness before the season, has been the team’s most consistent strength. The club’s been pleasantly surprised by Brett Cecil (left-handed hitters are batting .136) and Steve Delabar, who’s allowed two runs in the past 11 games. Closer Casey Janssen has recorded 10 saves, retired 25 consecutive batters between April 13 and May, and allowed four hits in 43 at-bats against.
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