I know it, you know it, we all know it – the Toronto Blue Jays have been really bad so far. How bad? To put it in perspective, 28 teams have been better than Toronto through a sluggish 26 games of the season. The Blue Jays never rebounded from a worrisome 1-5 start, and now find themselves sitting at a 9-17 record with just about 4 weeks of baseball in the books. It’s a simple question, yet a complex answer: Can the Blue Jays return to the postseason?
For starters, the Blue Jays 2016 post season squad garnered 89 wins over 162 regular season games. To use 89 wins as a reference point, the Blue Jays would have to go 81-56 over the remaining 137 games just to return to that plateau, meaning they would have to win nearly 60% of their remaining games, or simply 3 wins for every 5 games. The only team that won more than 60% of their games over the entire season also won the World Series after winning 103 games. The Chicago Cubs had quite a baseball team, too.
If the Blue Jays are going to shoot for a third straight post season appearance, the overwhelming reality is that the comeback has to start right now. The season could truthfully be over in May if the Blue Jays continue to play to the sub .400 win percentage that they have boasted this year.
To give the Blue Jays some hope, they haven’t been as bad in all aspects of the game as their dismal 9-17 record would suggest. Toronto has gotten a tidy 13 quality starts from their pitchers as the worst team in the league, the same amount as the American League leading Houston Astros. Baseball can be like that, especially if you can’t hit the ball.
If you haven’t yet gotten the point, a makeshift pitching crew that has seen Mat Latos and Casey Lawrence make starts has been good (enough) for Toronto to be a winning ball club, or, in our case, possibly make the playoffs.
If you like offence, however, the Jays have not impressed you.
It’s acceptable if a few players get off to bad starts. The problem is, almost everyone got off to dreadful starts. Devon Travis, Jose Bautista, Steve Pearce, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and more are still trying to wake up from early season struggles. Injuries to the hot hitters like Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson have only added to the ailment.
The fact of the matter is that the Blue Jays are going to have to turn this around without Josh Donaldson. By the time he returns from a calf injury, it may be too late.
They’ve already begun the turn-around. After not winning a series or back-to-back games for the first month of the season, the Blue Jays have now won three straight and are on the verge of winning consecutive series.
Kevin Pillar and Russell Martin are bright spots in the offence. As they hit over .300 in their last few games, they have made the offence look much better than the one that started the season failing to record more than 2 runs in 5 of the first 6 ball games. Undoubtedly, Toronto will ride their bats until all-stars Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki return to the lineup.
The key to making the postseason will be the underlying factor: The offence. History supports the skill of hitters like Jose Bautista and Devon Travis, and should round out a lineup that everyone knows can hit the baseball. Healthy pitching will be more than satisfactory, but, logically, you can’t win if you don’t score.
Former Blue Jay pitcher R.A Dickey once said, “there are many seasons within a season.” This most recent season has evidently been a bad one. It’s time to start the next few seasons in a winning groove.
The thing about a record in baseball is that you’re not going to win 60% of your games every day. An 89-73 record is composed of your hot streaks and your rough patches. The fundamental question is: How much more often can a team be hot than cold?