Ex-Files: Thames cools off, Edwin heats up, Lawrie loves ketchup chips

Tim and Sid take a look at what has changed for the Toronto Blue Jays and what helped them have an incredible May after a dismal April.

We don’t need to remind you that the baseball season is one long marathon filled with winding roads, hills and detours. Six months can really be broken down into a half dozen mini legs of the giant race.

Examining Eric Thames’s stat line as we enter June shows us exactly why.

The last time we featured the former Blue Jay, he was riding high, sitting atop the MLB home run leaderboard. Now, as we check back on Thames and other players in our third edition of the 2017 Ex-Files, things have certainly changed.

Past 2017 Ex-Files: April | May

Eric Thames
14 HR | .286/.422/.621 | 1.8 WAR

After a scorching April, Thames cooled considerably the following month. He hit just .221 with three homers and nine RBIs in May, compared to .345 with 11 homers, 19 RBIs in the opening month. A drop-off was to be expected as pitchers made necessary adjustments following his return from the KBO, and now it’s up to the 30-year-old to return serve. One positive for Thames is that his walk and strikeout rates have not changed drastically from April to May.

Anthony Gose

Gose, who the Blue Jays traded to the Tigers for Devon Travis in 2014, is now trying his hand as a pitcher after an unsuccessful career in the outfield. The 26-year-old has 372 big-league games under his belt, but last week made his pro debut as a pitcher, toeing the rubber in relief for the Tigers’ high-A club. Gose hit 99 m.p.h. on the gun and allowed one run on one hit, walking one and striking out one. It’s important to note that as a former high-school pitching prospect, he’s no stranger to the mound.

David Price
5.40 ERA | 5 innings | 4 strikeouts | 2 walks | 94.3 m.p.h. average fastball

Price finally made his 2017 debut returning from a bout of left elbow troubles that had sidelined him since spring training. The May 29 outing was mediocre, but according to Price, excellent from a health standpoint. He feels completely confident in his arm, tossing 88 pitches and even topping out at 96.7 m.p.h. Price had a rough first year with the Red Sox and is eager to make amends, so it’ll be intriguing to see how his season unfolds alongside Chris Sale, who’s now the clear No. 1 in Beantown.

Edwin Encarnacion
10 HR | .234/.349/.418 | 0.2 WAR

Encarnacion has traditionally been a slow starter, and that hasn’t changed this year, but his bat is showing signs of life lately, especially following manager Terry Francona’s decision to move him down one spot to No. 5 in the batting order. In the 15 games since, the slugger has five home runs, 11 RBIs and has raised his season average to .234 from .198. Speaking of Francona, Encarnacion is developing a fondness for his new skipper, telling The Morning Journal, “It’s really good to have managers like Tito (Francona), veteran managers who know their players and speak highly of their players because that makes you want to give them 110 per cent.”

Adam Lind
3 HR | .340/.400/.604| 0.6 WAR

Lind has been rebranded as a pinch-hitting extraordinaire by manager Dusty Baker this season, with the lefty slugger putting up gaudy numbers in limited duty. He’s 8-for-15 as a PH, with three home runs and nine RBIs. He’s displayed a solid approach over his 60 total plate appearances, significantly reducing his career strikeout percentage.

Jeff Hoffman
3.29 ERA | 13.2 innings | 17 strikeouts | 2 walks | 95 mph average fastball

The former first-round pick, acquired by Colorado in the package that brought Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto, is progressing nicely in his development. Hoffman impressed during a pair of recent spot starts for the Rockies (two wins, 12.1 innings, 15Ks) before being sent back to triple-A. It’s only a matter of time before the No. 27 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, rejoins Colorado for good, though.

Totally unrelated: His salty tweet game is pretty good, too.

Michael Saunders
6 HR | .225/.268/.402 | -0.1 WAR

The outfielder enjoyed a power surge in May, belting five home runs, but overall he’s struggled mightily during his first year with the Phillies. His stat line across the board looks unremarkable, his walk rate has decreased by more than five per cent from last season and advanced stats show he’s not making as much hard contact. Saunders was even benched last week along with other struggling teammates. “It’s not a punishment, but at this level, you have to produce,” skipper Pete Mackanin told reporters. “If you want to play, you have to hit. They have to understand that. No one is here on scholarship.”

Colby Rasmus
6 HR | .253/.306/.557 | 0.2 WAR

Rasmus missed all of April with a groin issue, but has been a key contributor, mostly against right-handed pitchers, since his return in early May — he’s already blasted six homers and currently sports a healthy .863 OPS.

We’re also glad to hear that Ramus is still very much a social media conversation starter …

Daniel Norris
4.47 ERA | 54.3 innings |48 strikeouts | 24 walks | 93.4 mph average fastball

The best way to describe the promising left-hander is that he’s still a work in progress. Acquired by Detroit in the David Price deal, he found some success in 2016, but has followed that with mostly inconsistent outings this campaign. That formula was evident over his past two starts: Norris held the formidable Astros lineup in check over 6.1 innings on May 24, allowing just one earned run, but followed with a mediocre, five-inning, three-run performance against the last-place Royals in his next outing.

Brett Lawrie

Lawrie hasn’t played a single game this season. Heck, he isn’t even signed to a major league organization, but somehow still happens to be a monthly fixture on this list. His latest hijinks involve, of all things, ketchup chips. The former Blue Jays infielder will host a slippery slide event that will take aim at a world record as part of Pringles’ launch of its new ketchup-flavoured chips. Yup, you read that correctly.

“Ketchup Chips are seriously one of my all-time favourite chip flavours,” Lawrie said in a press release. “Playing in the show means spending a lot of time outside of the true north strong and free, and they’re one of the things that I miss most. I’m amped up to see Ketchup Chip fans on the Pringles Ketchup Slippery Slide and be part of such a flavourful celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. It’s slide time!”

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