Last year’s historical post All-Star break run by the Blue Jays may have left me a little entitled towards this season … but I’m a little concerned about this 2016 Toronto Blue Jays squad.
They just dropped two of three to the lowly Los Angeles Angels; the Blue Jays let a pair of games slip away in Cleveland as they very easily could’ve won all three games in that series against the Indians.
The Blue Jays aren’t exactly playing their best baseball of the season; yet, they’re still somehow tied for first place in the American League East. Tell me how that works out?
The Blue Jays are just simply getting by as of late; they aren’t quite good enough to start planning a World Series parade route, but not quite bad enough to descend into pandemonium in Blue Jays Land.
Perhaps the 2015 Blue Jays left me with a sense of entitlement; with an expectation the Blue Jays should and would perform just as well as they did last August and September, and that’s playing .666 baseball down the stretch.
Expecting the Blue Jays to do that again would be unreasonable. Admittedly, it would be unrealistic to expect the Jays win close to two-third of their remaining games. But the reasonable ask is to request the Blue Jays to give these games in August and September some extra effort.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”18″]The Blue Jays are averaging 1.8 runs in their last 10 losses, which is hardly enough to win on any given night.[/perfectpullquote]
It’s not so much the starting rotation and the bullpen as it is the starting lineup. Last night’s 6-3 loss was a prime example. It was a bit of a flukey win for the Angels in the end, but by merely scoring total three runs, the Blue Jays were once again working with a razor-thin margin for error.
That loss could theoretically be hung on J.A. Happ (who gave up four earned runs) or Joe Biagini (who prompted to surrender two more), but the thing is … a starting lineup the calibre of the Blue Jays’ should be able to mask those shortcomings.
A team that can consistently score runs can mask a lot of weaknesses. A team that has a strong starting rotation (just like the Blue Jays) can help keep them in games much longer, but a strong pitching performance doesn’t mean much if the team can only score two or three runs.
Let’s look back at the Blue Jays last ten losses; here are the number of runs they’ve scored in those losing efforts: 3-2-2-2-0-3-2-1-2-1. The Blue Jays are averaging 1.8 runs in those losses, which is hardly enough to win on any given night. On the season, the Blue Jays have scored the fifth fewest runs in baseball during losses; averaging 2.6 runs in losing contests.
Not that a team is ever supposed to lose in a noble or respectable fashion, but all too often this season, the Blue Jays have fallen behind in games and failed to stage a comeback.
I totally understand the “they’re still in first place” sentiment and the fact that the Blue Jays have only had all their regulars in the lineup this season for something like five games total. But that feels like a crutch and somewhat of a mask for the bigger issue at hand; on many nights, the Blue Jays still struggle to score runs.
First place in the division is great and all, but there is still a lot of baseball left to play. One shouldn’t use the “they’re still in first” line as an excuse to dismiss the poor play in these losing efforts and the considerable lack of offense.
Instead, the Blue Jays need to take an introspective look about what’s happening as of late. Yes, they’re in a playoff position; but luckily, their closest opponents are playing just as poorly. The Blue Jays can’t count on that trend to continue.
I guess my frustration lies in this; with this cast of characters, the Blue Jays should be much further out in front than they already are. With the bullpen finally finding its footing and the starting pitching sustaining itself, the Blue Jays should’ve taken off by now and started running away with the division.
It’s been exciting to watch the Jays close the gap on the Orioles and now claw and scratch with the Red Sox for the division lead. But shouldn’t the Jays have capitalized on these past two series against the Indians and Angels?
Last year at this time, the Blue Jays were playing their absolute best baseball of the season, and it propelled them towards an American League East division title. This year, the Blue Jays arguably still haven’t played their best baseball of the season … but they’re quickly running out of time.