Toronto Blue Jays: Taking the Good With the Bad


Toronto Blue Jays: Taking the Good With the Bad

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It has been a good time to be a Toronto Blue Jays fan as of late. The team has been on a roll offensively and the starting pitching has been above average in helping the team win 11 in a row.

The Jays best players on the team have definitely been living up to their potential, and there has been some real balance throughout the order. This has happened even though the Blue Jays are still without Devon Travis and Michael Saunders.

All signs seem to be pointing in the right direction, but with that also must come some caution. The season is still early and it is a roller coaster.

The Blue Jays have had good stretches in years past and had a lead in the division, before falling away as the season progressed. The current team is certainly on a high right now and just as important as any winning streak, it will be equally vital to see how they respond to any inevitable losing runs.

Jun 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar (11) celebrates with second baseman Ryan Goins (17) after he hits a home run in the second inning against Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

The key to a long season is to make the highs last while killing the eventual lows that will come. It is important that they attempt to limit losing streaks to two games and make sure they don’t turn into three or four games instead.

The Blue Jays have been a force at home in the last month and their team is built to put up some numbers in the hitter-friendly confines of the Rogers Centre. The key for them to really keep pushing above .500 is to make sure they simply stay competitive on the road.

If Toronto can split most of their road trips and sneak out some series wins, fans should be confident that they will continue to put up large numbers at home. There is simply too much talent throughout this line-up – there are so many guys that can get hot and help carry a team for a couple days.

With Travis now back and Saunders returning soon adds another two guys who can have good days at any time. They are upgrades over Ryan Goins and Ezequiel Carerra, who will still help provide quality depth for the roster, making this a plus for the team overall.

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Couple this with Justin Smoak getting a lot more at-bats now, which has allowed himself to get into more of a rhythm, and this lineup is potent. This Jays lineup really allows him to flourish and it can catch lightning in a bottle at any point 1 through 9.

Smoak has been producing lately while getting a lot of at-bats in the 5 hole, which is exactly where I had him penciled in the line-up during the preseason. As a switch hitter with power and some quality protection around him, the 5-6 slot seems to work perfect for the 2008 11th overall draft pick.

It’s been good to see the Jays pitching staff step up lately, especially with regard to the starting rotation. Aaron Sanchez going down on the 15 day DL hurts.

However, in reality this has meant Sanchez only missing three starts. Scott Copeland did a great job with his spot start two weeks ago against Miami, going seven strong innings and allowing only one run.

Marco Estrada has been a solid addition to the rotation lately.  Though he doesn’t have the best stuff in the league, he goes about his work and competes every time he is on the mound.

Jun 14, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada (25) delivers a pitch during the first inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The fact Estrada doesn’t have the best stuff,  yet still has 63 strikes in 73 innings to go along with a 1.1 WHIP, shows that he comes at hitters and throws a lot of strikes.  Compare this to Sanchez who has much better stuff, but has 42 k’s in 66 innings and a 1.4 WHIP.

Drew Hutchison has also been getting better and he is a guy who needs to step up if the Jays want any chance at a run.  He will be forced to face-off against lots of other teams good starters and time will tell if he can continue to improve.

If all of this success can continue for a while longer, hopefully Alex Anthopoulos will be able to force Rogers into letting him have some more freedom with their budget and allow him to potentially trade for a quality starter. One of the great things about the Jays winning is being able to see a more jolly John Gibbons.

The Gibbons shake he gives on his walk out to the mound looks ridiculous at times, but now that he seems to be in a better mood that walk seems more tolerable.  (Though the fact the Jays have had a league-high 13 blown saves means Gibbons waddle is still happening too much late in games.)

AA and management must know that with a bonafide closer, the Jays would be in a much better spot then they are today.  All inclinations point to the Jays trading for the affordable Francisco Rodriguez, given that the Milwaukee Brewers seem to be out of it and also seeing that K-Rod has 15 saves on a bad team.  (Jonathan Papelbon and Tyler Clippard are probably a bit too pricey but one can only hope.)

For the time being, Steve Delabar should be the Blue Jays closer until they find a proper replacement.  One thing is certain and that is that Brett Cecil‘s stuff is not meant for being a closer.

His best pitch is the swing and miss curveball in the dirt, and for a guy who wants to be a closer that can’t be the case.  It means he is pitching in close games in late innings and as soon as that first runner gets on then all hell can break lose on the basepaths, with fast runners reading balls in the dirt and stealing away.

All in all the starting pitchers and the Jays big bats are doing what they are supposed to. If they can ride this out until the All-Star break, Toronto should be in line for a good finish in a division that seems all up for grabs.