Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
In the last season of a two-year contract, Marco Estrada had a season filled with ups and downs in 2017. In five starts in April, he pitched to a 2.70 ERA. Two of his outings were scoreless, but in his second start of the year he gave up three home runs to the Rays on his way to five earned runs. He allowed 10 walks in April, and struck out 33. He took a no-decision in both of his shutouts – the Blue Jays won the first with a walkoff home run, and they lost the second in extra innings after the game remained scoreless until the 9th.
In May, all six of his starts lasted 6 innings or more, and his WHIP lowered. However, he had two more starts with 5 runs allowed. That gave him a 3.49 ERA for the month, although his team gave him sufficient run support for a 4-1 win-loss record in May. Estrada was shelled by the Yankees in his first June start, allowing 7 runs over 3 2/3 innings. His next three starts were also short ones, and he gave up 4, 6 and 6 runs, respectively. His ERA in 27 2/3 innings across six starts was 9.11. He allowed home runs in all but two of them. The struggles continued into July, when he pitched to a 6.48 ERA. His walk rate grew and his strikeout rate dropped.
Though rumours abounded that he would be dealt at the trade deadline, Estrada stayed put. In his first start after the deadline (July 31st in Chicago), he seemed a new man. He held the White Sox hitless for the first 4 innings, and lasted 7 in all, with one run allowed, four hits, and one walk. August was somewhat of a bounce-back month for him, despite two 6-run starts. His monthly ERA was 5.35.
After the waiver deadline passed, and Estrada was again not dealt, his start on September 5th was a 7-inning, 3-hit shutout of the Red Sox. In four of his five September starts, he allowed 4 or fewer hits. His final start of the year was a disaster, as he gave up 8 runs (7 earned) in Boston, and couldn’t get out of the 3rd inning.
Estrada’s ERA for the full season was 4.98, with a 1.38 WHIP. However, he seemed to run into more trouble on the road, where his ERA (5.43) sat over a full run higher than at home (4.34). Opponents hit .254 against him, while he struck out 21.8% of batters and walked 8.8% of them. His home run rate went up dramatically, to 1.50 per 9 innings. For comparison, it was 1.19 and 1.18 in each of his previous seasons in Toronto.
Estrada’s contract would have ended after this season, but he signed a 1-year extension for $13 million on September 20th, ensuring he will be with the Blue Jays next year. For the second time in three seasons, he made it clear that he wanted to stay in Toronto – signing an extension without even testing the free-agent market.
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: B+
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