Pennant Race

The Blue Jays Are Letting the Season Slip Away

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

If it feels like things are slipping away for the Toronto Blue Jays with 18 games remaining in the schedule, it’s because that’s exactly what it feels like.

Tuesday’s 6-2 loss was just another in a string of disheartening losses for the Blue Jays. A game in which Toronto actually outhit the Rays 9 to 7, and yet the Jays could only muster two runs.

All of the Blue Jays’ runs over the past two games have come via the home run. The Jays have personified this “feast or famine” M.O. this season, and they’ve opted to go the “famine” route far too often.



As a fan sitting there being subjected to watching Blue Jays squander numerous opportunities, I left the Rogers Centre more angry and despondent than I’ve ever been at a Blue Jays game. I’ve yelled more times at my television in the past two weeks more than I’ve yelled at my television as long as I’ve followed the Blue Jays.

I wish I had the resolve of Stoeten to say “serenity now” as the Jays are in the midst of this decline. Instead, I can compare my mood to that of George Costanza running out of a burning apartment.

The Toronto Blue Jays are trying my patience. They not only have my hand hovering over the panic button, I’ve officially deployed it. No longer in good faith can I tell another Jays fan “don’t panic” because I am panicked myself.

Yes, the Blue Jays are still in a playoff position … for the time being. But last week, they had a division lead of two games. At this rate, the Jays could fall out of a playoff spot by the weekend. The situation is dire for the Blue Jays right now.

It would be one thing if the Jays were playing crisp games and simply coming up short or missing out due to some bad-luck plays. The Blue Jays just aren’t playing very good baseball at the point in the season when teams have to play their best baseball.

It also might be slightly excusable if the Blue Jays were facing elite starting pitchers, but they haven’t. On the Blue Jays recent 5-9 slide, they’ve faced Alex Cobb (who made his first start since 2014), as well as Wade Miley, Yovani Gallardo and a parade of lefties (which the Blue Jays typically feast on).

The Toronto Blue Jays hitters failed to make a big impact on any of these starters. These are starting pitchers which the Blue Jays should’ve teed off on, and instead, left the Blue Jays scrounging to score runs.

The Blue Jays just aren’t playing very good baseball at the point in the season when teams have to play their best baseball.

Fast forward to any potential Wild card match-up where the Blue Jays have to face another team’s ace in a winner-take-all game. I can’t even imagine how mightily the Blue Jays lineup might struggle if they were to run into a stud starting pitcher.

Considering the talent level of this team and the track record of many of these players, normally I’d give the Blue Jays the benefit of the doubt that they’ll come out of this and prove why they’re one of the most potent offenses in all of baseball.



But as this tailspin continues to get further and further out of control for the Blue Jays, I simply can’t give them the benefit of the doubt anymore. The Jays just aren’t showing many signs that they’re about to break out of this slump.

It pains me to say that because I consider myself a pretty optimistic person and a fairly level-headed Jays fan. But when it comes to watching the Blue Jays over these past few weeks, they’ve incensed me so much, that I’m beginning to doubt whether they’ll make it.

This potent lineup helped the Blue Jays get to where they are right now; a playoff spot and 14 games above .500. But it’s the very same lineup which often holds this team back.

The Blue Jays don’t have the benefit of time to figure this out or play their way out of it. They simply have to stop playing sloppy baseball.

I don’t want to see the same iteration of this Blue Jays team from earlier this season which experienced extended offensive dry spells. I don’t want to see this Jays bullpen of yore which imploded in high leverage situations. The Blue Jays have already done this … I thought they got it out of their system.

The American League East is the toughest division in all of baseball right now. Four teams not only have a legitimate shot at a playoff spot, but any one of the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles or Yankees could take the division crown.



So not only is it frustrating to watch the Blue Jays flounder down the stretch, it’s infuriating to see a team like the Yankees (who were supposed to be out of it) suddenly make a late push for the playoffs.

Last night was bad for the Blue Jays. In of itself, that game wasn’t catastrophic. But it was the culmination of everything that’s gone wrong for the Blue Jays in their September slide.

A win today can quell a lot of fears; but a loss will only exacerbate them even further.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.


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1 Comment

  1. Kenii

    September 14, 2016 - 12:20 pm

    There seems to be two philosophies when things aren’t working: (1) stay the course and keep grinding until things start working, or (2) make adjustments to adapt to the new situations. The Jays have been sticking to the former much more so than the latter, but what bugs me is their apparent reluctance to even consider making adjustments.

    Recently a reporter mentioned that John Gibbons didn’t want to shuffle his lineup because apparently it signifies panic. So naturally, the biggest lineup change made this season was when Bautista was placed in the lead-off spot, and that was only because Bautista voluntarily requested it. They promptly started playing better. I understand the rationale here, but I still find it bizarre that a manager is so afraid of panicking his players that the only way to make major changes is for the players he’s managing to come forward as volunteers. I’m not suggesting that a lineup change is the solution now, but it does signify the team’s reluctance to make certain adjustments.

    Speaking of which, after last night’s game, Danny Farquhar (very confidently) explained how he got Edwin out (of a bases-loaded situation):
    “‘I got ahead of him, I wanted to throw a curveball but [pitching coach Jim] Hickey said to throw a heater,’ Farquhar said of his approach to Encarnacion. ‘Then I went with a changeup, another changeup and another changeup and got myself back into a hitter’s count, 2-2, elevated a fastball and luckily he swung.'”
    It’s pretty clear that other teams know exactly how to pitch to the Jays. So the Jays have a couple options: (1) wait for the pitcher to make a mistake (which will be few and far between against good teams/pitchers), or (2) make an adjustment!

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