Wednesday, 3 September 2014

August Month In Review

After a better month of July for the Toronto Blue Jays (15-11 in July), the Jays bounced back in their worst month to date, finishing with a record of 9-17, their worst month of the season.

This has a been a season of ups and downs for the Jays, with each month alternating between winning and losing records (April – 12-14, May – 21-9, June – 12-15, July – 15-11, August – 9-17). If the pattern were to continue, that means that the Jays will have a winning month of September, make it to the playoffs, and ride off into the sunset as we all expected to happen. Who says that this couldn’t happen?

The Jays are finally getting some pitching support from the minors, something that’s been much needed the whole season. Despite a poor month of August batting, the Jays have still managed to score the fifth most runs in the majors. Everything that could help the Jays spark something is there, so what’s holding them back?

To start, slugger Edwin Encarnacion has been off to a slow start since returning from the DL, his August numbers consisted of a line of .170/.241/.340, 2 home runs and 7 RBI’s, all in 53 at-bats. These are obviously below his usual numbers, and considering his major role in the offence, it does bring some concern about if he can bounce back.

The only time his production was lower this year was in April, when he hit only two home runs with 15 RBI’s the whole month. However, he did bounce back nicely in May, when he hit the most home runs in a single month by a Blue Jay with 16.

As far as pitching goes, it has not been consistent at all for the Jays. The team’s collective ERA is 24th in the MLB, and was 27th in August. The expansion of the rosters won’t only add depth in the offence, but especially in pitching, with prospects like Daniel Norris finally getting a taste of the majors.

Even if they don’t perform well now, they would have gotten their feet wet, and would be better prepared for next season.

So what does this all mean? Do the Jays have chance of making the playoffs? Yes, according to ESPN, the Jays have 2.7% chance (which is higher than the Yankees 2.1%, fun fact). What helps the Jays even more, is that out of the 8 series the Jays play this month, 6 of them are against AL East opponents, 2 of those 6 against the division leading Orioles.

If the Jays can string wins in the month, then a playoff run would seem more and more realistic. The Jays definitely have the talent to win, they’ve shown that in patches here and there throughout the season.

But for the team to actually sustain something throughout the month seems extremely unlikely given all of the circumstances against the team.

At the end of the day, saying whether or not the Jays will have a winning month is like flipping a coin, it really could go either way. But even if the Jays have a winning record, who knows if it will be enough. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Jays Future

As August begins to draw to a close, the drama of September Playoff-Races start to take full swing, and the Jays are looking to change their poor path around after a rough stretch following the All-Star Break (15-14 since break, 3-7 in past 10).

More and more people doubt the Jays on their abilities, despite finally having Encarnacion and Lind off the DL. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs this year, what’s their next step?
Many sources are already confirming an AA return as GM to Toronto, although nothing is certain yet. As a GM, AA has done almost everything as well as possible. He brought All-Star talent to the roster, who instantly made the team World-Series contenders. No one was second guessing the trade, and how could you? Bringing top-class talent like that to the team was considered a genius move, and no one was bashing him for it. How can you predict a collapse like the 2013 season?
While the Jays have performed better in 2014, they aren’t in the discussion for the World Series. Even if they start to click and make the playoffs, they haven’t had the consistency of teams like the Athletics (up until recently), Angels, or Dodgers to sustain a run under that kind of pressure.

The future isn’t all black for the Jays however, as they do have a handful of young pitchers to make up a solid rotation, in Stroman, Sanchez, Hutchison and Daniel Norris, who is most likely going to be called up to the Jays in September. Despite Hutch not being the most consistent pitcher, he is still only 23 and still has time to develop. If all of the younger prospects perform as expected of them, the Jays could potentially have a solid starting rotation for years to come.
Sure, they may not all be ready right away or perform strong right away, but as pitchers like Dickey and Buehrle reach the end of their careers, they can be ready to take over their spots.

As far as hitting goes, no player is close to retiring any time soon, but in another 5 years that may be a different story, depending on if players re-sign or not.

The hitting core has had no serious issues, with the exception of remaining healthy. Bringing in young talent would be the best way to ensure future success for the Jays, maybe by trading a big name like Bautista or Edwin. It may be extreme, but if the Jays do nothing they will surely continue on this downward spiral.

Unless they miraculously turn it around and make it to the postseason, you never know right?