There’s an old, old saying that roughly translated goes: “the best laid plans of mice and men can go awry.”
Awry indeed for the Toronto Blue Jays, who had plans to host playoff baseball this fall after a flurry of offseason moves.
When the team introduced Toronto media to George Springer in January it almost felt like a coronation. The team gave center fielder Springer a six-year, $150 million deal, the most expensive contract in franchise history. When a fresh Toronto jersey was slipped over Springer’s shoulders it felt like the first act in a play that would end in a World Series parade some day.
A week later, the Jays held another press conference to welcome shortstop Marcus Semien, who put his name on a one-year contract that pays him $18 million. With Springer and Semien added to the lineup, some experts predicted Toronto would bounce ahead of the other pesky teams in the American League East. But that’s not how the season has played out.
Springer started the season on the Injured List, and he didn’t play his fifth game with his new team until the third week of June. By then, the Jays were seven games back of the Red Sox and 5 1/2 games back of the Rays for a wild card spot. That’s what happens when you go 12-12 in April, 15-13 in May, and 14-12 in June. You can’t take a step forward if you are constantly taking one step sideways or backwards.
The Jays have been a team that seems to lose focus. They lost four in a row in early April, then came back to win seven of nine. In May the team won nine of 12 to creep within a half game of first place. But then they lost six in a row to plunge to fourth place. The Jays lost nine of 12 again in June, but something got under their feathers and they won five in a row and eight of nine. But then they lost four of five to fall nine games out. Immediately after that they won four in a row, followed by three straight losses. The team won five in a row earlier this month to get within a couple games of a wild card spot, but have lost five of their last six entering this weekend.
Still In The Playoff Chase
Currently, the surging Yankees and A’s are in the two wild card slots in the American League. The Red Sox are in a virtual tie with Oakland. Then there’s the spirited Mariners, three games back, and then comes the Blue Jays, four games behind the second wild card spot. Most importantly, Toronto is only three games back in the loss column for the final playoff spot in the AL.
With about seven weeks left in the regular season, the Jays have to switch gears and get into a more consistent level of performance. They can’t lose 4-5 in a row and come back and try to run off a winning streak. They have to start winning series after series after series, and putting up a good win total for a full month. Only three games (in the loss column) keep them from that wild card spot, but with three teams to get past in the standings, they won’t be able to do that with inconsistent results.
The Jays offense is formidable, even with Springer missing a lot of time with injury. They rank third in the AL in runs scored. The pitching staff hasn’t been terrible: they stand sixth among 15 teams in runs allowed. But the defense and bullpen have been very erratic. The Jays have committed far too many mistakes, and the bullpen has blown 14 saves, the second highest total in the league. If even a third of those saves had been converted, Toronto would be in a playoff spot.
Springer Injury Clouds Playoff Hopes
The team announced that Springer, who hit five homers in the first week-and-a-half of August, was once again going on the IL, this time with a knee sprain. Springer’s power will be missed, and it just feels like his first season as a Jay will be a throwaway.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may match his Hall of Fame father this season if he wins the Most Valuable Player award. Only 22, Vladdy Jr. is a power hitting force in the middle of the Toronto lineup. With Guerrero Jr. and teammates Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and Semien, the Jays have one of the most imposing lineups in the American League. In many ways they are more difficult to handle than the Yankees, because the Jays make contact and move runners along more efficiently.
But Springer’s absence, and the extended loss of catalyst Cavan Biggio (who might return from a back/neck injury this weekend) has put the Jays in a hole. They could dig themselves out, but given the way the season has gone, they’re using a short-handed shovel in the dark.
Post-Season Odds For Blue Jays at FanDuel
A list of the current sports betting odds for the Blue Jays in the 2021 mlb season.
- World Series winner: +3500
- Pennant winner: +1900
- Division winner: +2800
- Toronto vs. LA Dodgers World Series matchup: +4400
- Toronto vs. SF Giants World Series matchup: +4500
- Toronto vs. St. Louis Cardinals World Series matchup: +250000