Blue Jays Stat of the Day: April 2021

May 1st, 2021 is keeping track of a Stat of the Day for the Blue Jays this season, highlighting a unique, interesting or fun nugget from each game.

April 30: Blue Jays 13, Braves 5 -- Ray's need for speed
Robbie Ray's fastball has looked very sharp over his past two outings, topping out at 98.3 mph in each. They mark the first times that Ray has thrown a fastball harder than 98 mph since the 2016 season, and he feels like this is tied to a recent change he's made in his delivery. Ray is consciously trying to be more aggressive with his extension and release through his fastball, and while the radar gun readings will get the attention, it's just as impressive that the left-hander is controlling this fastball.

April 28: Nationals 8, Blue Jays 2 -- Dolis' superb sinker
Rafael Dolis didn't look sharp when the season opened, but the right-hander has found his groove through April and has pitched well when the Blue Jays have needed it most. With multiple injuries in the back end of Toronto's bullpen, Dolis has stepped into a high-leverage role and picked up a pair of saves, challenging hitters with his sinker, slider and splitter. That sinker has been dominant early on, and Dolis' .081 opponent average against that pitch is the lowest in Major League Baseball. With the trust of manager Charlie Montoyo, and plenty of late-inning opportunities ahead, this is shaping up to be a big season for Dolis.

April 27: Blue Jays 9, Nationals 5 -- Vlad Jr.'s grand slam off Max Scherzer
When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched a go-ahead grand slam against Scherzer on Tuesday night at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., Scherzer joined IvΓ‘n Nova as the only pitchers who have allowed a home run to both Vladimir Guerrero and Vladdy Jr. The 415-foot shot is just another highlight in what's been a breakout April for Guerrero, who's finally flashing the elite offensive talent that made him the No. 1 prospect in baseball in 2019. In his next trip to the plate, Guerrero just kept rolling, launching another deep home run off Scherzer. This offensive outburst -- plus a third home run in the seventh inning -- gave Guerrero seven home runs and 19 RBIs on the young season.

April 25: Blue Jays 1, Rays 0 -- A new lowest ERA
The story of the season for the Blue Jays has been injuries, particularly to their rotation and bullpen. Despite that, the Blue Jays own a club ERA of 3.04, the lowest through the first 21 games in the history of the franchise. It's a true accomplishment considering how many arms have been thrust into roles that weren't expected, which has included bullpen-game strategies and 10 different starting pitchers so far. It will be a challenge to sustain such a pace into May and June, but getting some of these arms back healthy will only help.

April 24: Rays 5, Blue Jays 3 -- Starting staff looking strong
Steven Matz has been the pleasant surprise of April for the Blue Jays, carrying over a strong Spring Training into a 4-0 start with a 2.31 ERA. Matz has become just the fifth pitcher in Blue Jays history to open a season at 4-0 while allowing three or fewer runs in each of his four starts. The last to do this was Marcus Stroman in 2015. Behind ace left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, Matz has given the Blue Jays valuable stability while they weather injuries to their rotation and bullpen, and he has filled the role of the No. 2 starter that the Blue Jays have desperately needed.

April 23: Blue Jays 5, Rays 3 -- Vladdy Jr. on base in every game
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has reached base in every game this season, and when you stretch this active streak back into 2020, he's reached in 20 consecutive games. Only Joey Gallo, at 22 games, has a longer streak. Guerrero singled in the first inning off Tyler Glasnow and has built this streak with massive exit velocities and hits to all fields, of course, but his walks have been just as impressive. In the Minor Leagues, Guerrero walked more than he struck out, and he finally seems to be finding that stride in the big leagues. It's early, but Guerrero has laid the foundation for a breakout season at age 22.

April 21: Blue Jays lead MLB in starters
Trent Thornton was Toronto's 10th starter of the season in the series finale at Fenway Park, and no team in baseball has used more through the first few weeks of the season. This has included openers, and even Thornton "opened" a bullpen game, but it shows just how creative the Blue Jays have needed to be while they deal with multiple injuries in their rotation and bullpen. The club hopes this number stops climbing soon, as No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson works his way back and Thomas Hatch is expected soon after, but the organization's pitching depth has already been tested more than anyone expected coming into 2021.

April 20: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2 -- Bichette hits it all the way out
Bo Bichette's home run at Fenway Park on Tuesday night was an absolute moonshot, leaving his bat with a launch angle of 40 degrees. This was the 21st home run of Bichette's career, but none have left his bat at a higher angle than this one, which reached a peak height of 138 feet. Bichette's blast cleared the Green Monster and the bleachers on top, but it needed to dodge a light tower before it left the yard entirely.

April 18: Royals 2, Blue Jays 0 -- Ray ties career high with 6 BBs
Robbie Ray's six walks against the Royals in Sunday's 2-0 loss tied a career high, marking just the third time he's walked six in his career. Ray managed to grind through all of the baserunners, though, and gave the Blue Jays five scoreless innings. Ray's control is the No. 1 factor in his success after leading baseball in walks in 2020, and he's shown flashes of how dominant he can be when he's hitting the zone. The left-hander has now walked nine batters over 10 innings over his two starts this season.

April 17: Blue Jays 5, Royals 1 (Game 1) -- Four lefties slated to face Royals
When Robbie Ray takes the mound for Sunday's finale against the Royals, it will mark the first time in Blue Jays history that the club started left-handers in each contest of a four-game series. Earlier in the set, Toronto started Anthony Kay, Steven Matz (Game 1 winner) and Tommy Milone (Game 2 in Saturday's twin bill). This is also the first time in nearly a decade the Blue Jays started four consecutive left-handers, dating to August 2012, when Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey and J.A. Happ lined up in the rotation.

April 15: Royals 7, Blue Jays 5 -- Guerrero crushes 456-foot home run
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. remains one of baseball's hottest hitters, and he's doing it with plenty of flair. On Thursday, when he extended his on-base streak to 13 games, Guerrero Jr. mashed a 456-foot home run against Kyle Zimmer to mark his longest homer to date. His previous long was 451 feet against the Giants on May 14, 2019.

April 14: Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4 -- Ryu dealing at historic pace
The Blue Jays signed Hyun Jin Ryu to be their ace, and that's exactly what he has become. Through 15 starts with the organization, Ryu owns a 2.51 ERA. And if his early starts in 2021 are any indication, that's going to keep shrinking. Ryu boasts the third-best ERA in franchise history after just 15 starts, behind only Roger Clemens (1.90) and Tom Candiotti (2.28). Through Ryu's first three starts this season, he owns a 1.89 ERA and has already shown a tremendous feel for all of his pitches, especially his changeup -- which has been an elite weapon against eager hitters.

April 13: Blue Jays 7, Yankees 3 -- Vlad Jr.'s sprint speed
In 2020, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s average sprint speed was measured by Statcast at 25.3 feet per second. Early this season, he's averaging 27.1 feet per second, and that increase of 1.8 feet per second is the single biggest jump from year to year in baseball. The next closest is Anthony Rizzo, with an increase of 1.1 feet per second.

Guerrero will never be a base-stealer, but we've already seen how his improved athleticism can benefit him on the bases, whether that be stretching a single into a double or advancing a base on a ball in the dirt. This Blue Jays lineup is athletic throughout and aiming to be more aggressive on the bases, so it's great news for the club that Guerrero now fits that philosophy better. Statcast measures this speed by averaging "competitive" runs, when a player is running at maximum effort.

April 12: Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1 -- Vlad Jr.? Or Rocket Man?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been launching rockets in the early stages of the 2021 season, and his six balls hit harder than 110 mph are the most in the Majors. Guerrero says that his timing is "perfect" right now, and it shows. The young star has been barreling up the ball to all fields and using that advanced plate approach, which showed on Monday against one of the game's best, Gerrit Cole. With a 3-2 count and Bo Bichette on first, Guerrero recognized the massive hole on the right side of the infield and chopped a single right through it.

April 10: Blue Jays 15, Angels 1 -- Bichette's career-high 5 RBIs
Saturday was a banner night for the Blue Jays' offense all around, and that included Bo Bichette knocking in five runs for the first time in his career. Bichette drew a bases-loaded walk in the second inning and followed with two-run doubles in the third and fourth. He might've been able to pad his RBI total even more, but he was lifted for Joe Panik after his sixth-inning flyout due to the nature of the blowout. Bichette's five RBIs also tied a Blue Jays record as a shortstop, last achieved by Troy Tulowitzki in 2016.

April 9: Angels 7, Blue Jays 1 -- Blue Jays struggling with K's
The Blue Jays struck out another 12 times in the loss to the Angels, giving them 84 strikeouts as a team through the first eight games of the season, a new club record. This surpasses the previous high of 82, set in 2016. Toronto's lineup has been expanding the zone at times early on and they're dealing with injury troubles already, so they'll now work to make better contact or, at the very least, offset these high strikeout totals with power numbers.

April 8: Angels 7, Blue Jays 5 (11) -- Blue Jays make AL history
The Blue Jays opened another "home" season away from Toronto at Dunedin's TD Ballpark. After starting at Buffalo's Sahlen Field in 2020 and Rogers Centre in 2019, the Blue Jays become the first team in league history to hold home openers in three different cities in three consecutive seasons. Only one other team in MLB history has started at three different home ballparks in three consecutive seasons, when the Boston Braves started at South End Grounds, Fenway Park and Braves Field from 1914-1916.

April 7: Rangers 2, Blue Jays 1 -- Bichette sets club record for home runs in a player's first 80 games
Since Bo Bichette debuted in late 2019, he has been in a full sprint. It still seems that each week, Bichette is setting a Blue Jays record for being the youngest or the fastest player to reach a milestone. Bichette's two-homer game on Tuesday against the Rangers at Globe Life Field gave him 18 for his career, the most by a Toronto hitter over his first 80 games. As usual, Bichette passed an impressive name, topping Fred McGriff's 16. His 103 hits through 80 games are also a club record, topping Alex Rios' 93.

April 6: Rangers 7, Blue Jays 4 -- Grichuk extends hitting streak to 12
Randal Grichuk has typically started slow then heated up, but that's not the case in 2021. The outfielder had two of the biggest hits of the opening series against the Yankees and has carried that success right over to the Texas series, singling twice on Tuesday. This extended Grichuk's hitting streak to 12 games, the second-longest active streak in Major League Baseball, trailing only Andrew Stevenson of the Nationals (13 games). Grichuk's first single encapsulated some of the changes he has made recently, too. Being shifted to the pull side, Grichuk choked up and stayed back on the 91-mph sinker from Dane Dunning before shooting it into the opposite field.

April 5: Blue Jays 6, Rangers 2 -- Vlad Jr. 4th player to hit 25 HR before 23rd birthday
Only three other Blue Jays hitters have reached the 25-home run mark by their 23rd birthday, and it shouldn't be long until Vladimir Guerrero Jr. clears them to have the most prior to turning 23. Guerrero's first home run of the season over the weekend against the Yankees tied him with Travis Snider (25), and he's now closing in on John Olerud and Lloyd Moseby at 27 apiece. Coming off a very strong showing in the Grapefruit League this spring, Guerrero has carried his momentum into the regular season and feels that his timing is "perfect" one week in.

April 4: Blue Jays 3, Yankees 1 -- Bichette becomes fastest hitter in franchise history to reach 100 hits
Bo Bichette opened his career on a tear in late 2019, and following a shortened '20 season, he reached 100 career hits in just his 78th career game on Sunday. Just as impressive is the fact that 45 of those have gone for extra bases, including No. 100 -- a first-inning double to right field. With this mark, Bichette passes Alex Rios (85 games), Devon Travis (93), Brett Lawrie (94), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (96) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (96).

April 3: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3 -- Semien flashes power, speed
In just his second game as a Blue Jay, Marcus Semien did something the franchise has seen just once before in the past two decades: a homer and two stolen bases from a second baseman. Semien, who had just seven homers and four stolen bases in 53 games last year, lifted a solo shot to left field off Corey Kluber, forcing the righty out of the game. Semien also swiped second base in the first and third innings, but he was unable to score on either occasion.

April 1: Blue Jays 3, Yankees 2 -- Vlad Jr. hits 114.1 mph single off Cole
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. scorched the ball in Spring Training, finally adding some loft to his swing, too, after ground balls gave him trouble through the first two years of his career. He wasted no time launching a rocket in the regular season, even with Gerrit Cole on the mound. Guerrero's 114.1 mph single in the second inning was the hardest base hit allowed by the Yankees' ace since Statcast began measuring in 2015. This is nothing new for Guerrero, of course, who has still managed to produce some of the highest exit velocities in baseball recently. Stretching back to the beginning of the 2019 season, Guerrero has 15 batted balls with an exit velocity of 115+ mph, according to Statcast. The next closest? Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who have seven apiece.