TORONTO- The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays arrived at the all-star break as baseball’s wildest roller coaster ride at an amusement park. They entered the break with a 45-46 record, 4th in the A.L. East Division. If there is one word to describe the first half of the season is mediocrity. But first let’s get a look as to how the mediocre Blue Jays got where they are in the standings.
During last offseason, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos was able to make a splash in free agency by signing Canadian catcher Russell Martin to a 5-year contract worth $82 million. Anthopoulos also managed to make a huge blockbuster trade by acquiring third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics for Brett Lawrie and three prospects. Both Martin and Donaldson are both two way players and have been the postseason before. Most importantly, they were brought in to improve the team’s culture in the clubhouse. Even though Anthopoulos upgraded that the roster, there are some concerns about the starting rotation and in the bullpen.
The Blue Jays were pretty confident and optimistic entering spring training. However, injuries with right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman (torn ACL) and outfielder Michael Saunders (meniscus tear in left knee) were huge losses as both would have made significant impact if healthy.
The Blue Jays entered the season with six rookies on the opening day roster. A bold decision by skipper John Gibbons. Righties Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro, lefty Daniel Norris, second baseman Devon Travis and outfielder Dalton Pompey (a Canadian native) are all 24 years or younger and have little to no experience in the big leagues. With this many youth on the roster, it clearly shown that they were clearly inexperience. In result, Castro, Norris, and Pompey were sent back to the minors to refine their skills. While Sanchez, Osuna and Travis managed to stick around.
Throughout the month April and May, the Blue Jays were very inconsistent. When they are hitting, they can’t pitch. When they pitch, they can’t hit. It wasn’t until June when things starting to clicked. They had an eleven game winning streak and finished the month with 18-9 record. But still the Jays are currently one game behind .500.
Throughout the season, the Blue Jays dominated on offence as they’re leading the majors with 486 runs scored and have a run differential with +77. Thanks to this powerful offence led by Donaldson and Jose Bautista. They also got a surprising performance by Chris Colabello, who was a waiver claim from the Minnesota Twins. Their defence is much improved thanks to Kevin Pillar and his highlight reel plays.
(Courtesy of MLB.com)
However, the pitching has not been there all season. Their starting rotation posted the 7th worst ERA at 4.46 and the bullpen blown 14 save opportunities. Not to mention that the bullpen has been overworked as the starters failed to go deep in ball games.
So if the Blue Jays have the best run differential in all of baseball, why on earth are they only a sub .500 team? It’s pretty oblivious, isn’t it? They’ve been nothing but a mediocre team. Their offence is legit, their pitching not so much.
In order for the Blue Jays to turn things around, they have to improve their pitching staff whether it’s within the organization. Or perhaps look at the trade market with pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Jonathan Papelbon and others available. After all, pitching does win ball games. Look at last year’s World Series Champs, San Francisco Giants.
Now the first half of the season is behind them, the Blue Jays are going to need to be dominant in the 2nd half of the season. Lucky for them, they are only 4.5 games back behind the New York Yankees in the A.L. East and there is plenty of time to turn things around with 71 games remaining. If their bats continue to dominant and improve their pitching, then this year could be the year that they can end this 21 year-playoff drought.
The clock is ticking for them to make magic happen. After all, they have an entire nation rooting for the only Canadian team playing in the MLB. Will they end their playoff drought or will they have to deal with another disappointed season? Guess we’ll have to see what happens.