For the first time since April 9th, that’s six-and-a-half weeks, the Toronto Blue Jays will finally have most of their Opening Day lineup back together again.
I say “most” because Steve Pearce is still on the disabled list, but aside from that, the last time the Blue Jays had their Opening Day batting order in tact was back on April 9th. That was before the Blue Jays even had their first opportunity to play at home.
By the time the Blue Jays returned to Toronto to play their Home Opener back on Tuesday April 11th, John Gibbons already had to begin tinkering with the lineup. And it hasn’t stopped since.
Since then, 14 players have gone on the disabled list (Aaron Sanchez three times by himself), six players have all had turns playing third base and the Jays have been through four different catchers. Not to mention, Marcus Stroman came up with a pinch hit double and scored the winning run in one of the Blue Jays’ most unorthodox wins ever.
It’s expected that Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki will make their long-awaited return to the Blue Jays lineup ahead of the team’s highly-anticipated series against the Texas Rangers. And getting Donaldson and Tulo back will be huge for this injury-riddled Blue Jays roster.
For the past six weeks, the Blue Jays have basically been trying to simply tread water until their key players came back. Lo and behold, the Jays have done exactly that, posting a 20-18 record since Donaldson went on the disabled list.
The Blue Jays are actually playing better than .500 baseball since losing Donaldson to injury back on April 13th, which is pretty remarkable if you think about it. The Jays also clawed their way back from a season-worst 11 games under .500 back on April 28th.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Less than 100% versions of Donaldson & Tulo are far better than 100% iterations of Coghlan & Goins” quote=”Less than 100% iterations of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki are far better than 100% iterations of Chris Coghlan and Ryan Goins.”]
Toronto made up six games despite losing player after player to injury. Despite those hardships, the club is getting production from unexpected sources; namely Kevin Pillar and Justin Smoak.
If anything, plugging Donaldson and Tulowitzki back into the order makes this Blue Jays lineup even more lethal than Opening Day.
Back then, hardly anyone could’ve anticipated these kind of results from Pillar and Smoak, much like many didn’t expect Jose Bautista, Devon Travis and Russell Martin to go completely cold in the month of April.
Now that Bautista and Travis are heating back up, Martin is healthy once again, Pillar and Smoak are playing above expectations and Kendrys Morales has stabilized, we’re finally beginning to see the full potential of this Blue Jays lineup.
This is under the assumption that Donaldson and Tulowitzki will hit the ground running and play like the JD and Tulo of old.
It’s a little presumptuous to assume they’ll produce at 100% right away, but less than 100% iterations of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki are far better than 100% iterations of Chris Coghlan and Ryan Goins.
The Blue Jays have done well to tread water since mid-April and now is the time for them to make up some ground in the standings. Nobody’s really running away with the division and despite the Jays being five games under .500, they’re only 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.
Not only will bringing back staples like Donaldson and Tulowitzki boost the Blue Jays, but with J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano nearing a return as well, the Blue Jays are poised to do some damage with this roster come early-June.
It’s funny how the Jays suddenly went from supposed sellers to buyers in the span of just six weeks. I don’t believe Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins were ever going to tear this down. However, with most of the roster making a return, it almost behooves the front office to make additional moves to bolster the Blue Jays’ roster.
For now, plugging Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki may be the spark the Blue Jays so desperately need to climb back into contention.