Dating back to the start of June, the Toronto Blue Jays have won just four of their 10 series, going 17-16 in those games (including May 31st, the first game of a series against the Chicago White Sox). After the first 80 games of the season, the Blue Jays have a record of 44-36, sitting in third in the American League East, but well behind the New York Yankees.
Coming into the season, the expectations were loft, and they still are. For a team that had big names such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and George Springer on the offence, a team that had a pitching staff consisting of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, and Alek Manoah, and a team that made a big addition in the offseason with platinum glove winner, Matt Chapman, it made sense. On paper, the Blue Jays were as strong as they have been in some time, and when they stepped on the field at the start of the season, they looked as good as advertised, getting off to a 14-8 start to the season while facing some of the leagues better teams, including the Yankees and Houston Astros.
Not only did the Jays have big-name talent at the start of the season, but they also have been getting production from places they may not have expected. Alejandro Kirk has stepped up and performed as one of baseball’s best catchers, earning himself millions of votes for the All-Star game, Santiago Espinal has become an everyday player, and both Raimel Tapia and Cavan Biggio have picked up their socks as of late and contributed to the lineup.
If baseball was about nothing more than the offence, the Blue Jays would likely be fine. Their lineup is deep, and even though they have stretches where it seems like scoring a single run is an impossible task, you would put the Jays’ lineup up against just about anyone in baseball and like your chances of winning a ballgame. But baseball isn’t just about the offence, and it has been the pitching staff and bullpen that have sunk the Blue Jays time and time again this season.
The Blue Jays’ offence has scored the fifth-most runs in baseball this season, pushing 380 runs across the plate, just 23 fewer than the 58-22 Yankees. So if the Blue Jays can keep pace with the Yankees’ offence, what has been the difference? While the Yankees have allowed a league-low 241 runs (earned or otherwise), the Blue Jays have allowed the 10th most, with opponents scoring 356 runs, an average of 4.45 runs each game. The Blue Jays have also allowed one of the worst opponent’s batting averages in baseball at .254, good for only 22nd in the league. The Yankees, on the other hand, are up in second at .212.
While there are some players on the pitching staff that have been really good for the Blue Jays this season, as a whole, they have been underwhelming. You have to give a free pass to Manoah, Jordan Romano, Adam Cimber, and Ross Stripling (especially recently) among others, but it’s unquestionable that there needs to be something done.
To address the point that made you click this, are the Blue Jays World Series contenders as things stand right now today? Simply, no, they aren’t. You don’t get to be called serious World Series contenders when in many statistical categories, your pitching staff is closer rivals with the Baltimore Orioles than the Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.
But what can be done about it? The Blue Jays should be pretty active around the Trade Deadline looking for some help for the pitching staff. That could come in the form of a starter, with names like Frankie Montas, Chad Kuhl, and Luis Castillo flying around, or it could come with a few relievers, such as David Bednar, David Robertson, or Jorge Lopez, among many other options. There is a clear need to upgrade, and with the Blue Jays offence ready to compete now, waiting around for the offseason only does one thing; guarantee another year of the core being wasted.
If the Blue Jays wanted to make a big splash, they could do it with one of their four top-100 prospects. They have Gabriel Moreno (number four), although it would take a hefty haul to budge on him in all likelihood, Orelvis Martinez (number 28), Jordan Groshans (number 66), and Ricky Tiedemann (number 91). However, they can go even deeper with players like Otto Lopez or Samad Taylor down their ladder to make something happen.
With many of the positional player roles on the Blue Jays already filled with players who can/will be around for the foreseeable future, the time is now to start moving prospects for win-now pieces. That shouldn’t be a free pass for Ross Atkins to sell the farm for rentals, however. If an acquisition is going to be made where high-profile prospects are being moved out, it should come in exchange for a player than can help the Blue Jays in 2023 and beyond. The Jays are nearly there, but throwing Trent Thornton, Thomas Hatch, Trevor Richards, and Casey Lawrence on a nightly basis is a recipe for disaster and needs to stop.
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