By Mark S.
I’m an 18 year old sports broadcasting student attending the College of Sports Media in downtown Toronto. I’ve had a passion of sports all my life and look forward to sharing my passion writing for TSM. Hope you enjoy!
Are The Toronto Blue Jays Pretenders Or Contenders?
After back-to-back World Series titles, everyone around the world thought that the Toronto Blue Jays were destined for success. After missing the playoffs in the ’94 season with a 55-60 record those thoughts changed. How could a team go from two straight winning seasons and not make the playoffs? Fast forward 21 years, the Blue Jays are still in that conundrum. This season however has some hope for this baseball club, it seems that they’ve found the recipe for success. Last season when General Manager Alex Anthopoulos made the blockbuster deal with the Miami Marlins, the success should of started last year. After finishing another disappointing season with a 74-88 record, you would think that some sort of change was going to happen. Anthopoulos and management thought otherwise and came in with virtually the same team into this season. A decision that has seemed to work, for now.
Everyone knows that winning is a key contributor to success, nobody has fun losing thats simple logic. When the Blue Jays got rid of Catcher J.P Arencibia and added Dioner Navarro in the offseason, Arencibia’s negative ego around the media was gone. When you see the Jays club house this season compared the last season there’s a huge difference. You know when you see Jose Reyes’ contagious smile nothing but positive energy is going through this club.
With the club once again leading the MLB in home runs, the offence has been there. With sluggers Edwin Encarnacion leading the AL in home runs and RBI alongside Jose Bautista’s .300 AVG with his 15 HR’s and 49 RBI the offence isn’t their concern. Their biggest concern that’s hurt them in the past has been the amount of injuries and the lack of consistency of their starting and bullpen pitching.
Let’s start with the pitching. This year the Blue Jays are 22nd in the league with an overall team ERA of 4.12. Besides Mark Buehrle’s 10-4 record and Drew Hutchison’s strong return from Tommy-John surgery, the pitching has been all over the place. With last year All-Star relievers Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar struggling, who else could this club look to? Last year at this time Cecil had an ERA of 1.59 while Delabar was throwing out a 1.76 ERA along with 48 strike-outs in only 33 innings. These two players had a combined 118 innings of work all of last season. This year in only 52 innings, they have a combined 4.33 ERA sending Delabar on a trip to the AAA Buffalo Bisons and Cecil to the 15-day DL. These two players need to step it up and when healthy, could possibly send this team into the postseason.
Now to the injuries. It looks like it’s hit them again, literally. With everyday starters Brett Lawrie breaking his index finger against the Cincinnati Reds, Jose Bautista being out indefinitely with a hamstring strain, Brandon Morrow and Maicer Izturis being out for the year and with Jose Reyes and Adam Lind dealing with minor injuries, the bug is back. With a 3-7 record on their recent road trip, it’s showed that these injuries are hurting this team once again. You could say the Jays have walked under too many ladders and stepped on too many cracks, they’ve just been unlucky. Especially with Lawrie and Bautista out for a considerable time, players like Juan Francisco and Anthony Gose need to be consistent on the field and the plate, this team depends on it.
With just under a month until the All-Star break, so much more baseball has yet to be played. Anything could happen, it’s still very early in the season. With the Jays leading the American League East, we may not understand how they’ve been successful so far this season. When September comes you never know, this team might be contending for their first playoff berth in 21 years.