Toronto Blue Jays: Up to the Players to Get Back on Track

May 15, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers clear the benches in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
May 15, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers clear the benches in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Blue Jays have not started the season off the way they would have liked and it is up to the players to get it back on track.

This is not exactly the start of the season that the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans wanted or were expecting, but it is the reality that they are faced with.

It was hard to expect the Blue Jays to repeat that unbelievable run in 2015 that saw them go 21-6 in August and 18-9 in September. Before that point the Blue Jays were only two games above .500, sitting with a 53-51 record before former GM Alex Anthopoulos made the big splash at the trade deadline.

The batting averages of Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Jose Bautista are well below their normal career averages and that should be more concerning than some of the other problems. If one or two of these players were struggling than it wouldn’t be a problem. But the fact that all four are struggling, especially over the past 30 games, is concerning.

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With Tulowitzki and Martin the message should be to slowly work their way back because when you look at Martin’s struggles the biggest problem is the number of times he is striking out. In 35 games Martin has 43 strikeouts in 111 at-bats, and in comparison to the 106 strikeouts that he had in 441 at-bats in 129 games last season, it’s a concern.

Martin only has one extra base hit and eight walks, so if he is willing to be more patient offensively then it should turn around.

Tulowitzki has started to slowly turn things around so there is not as much concern with his offence. He is not a home run hitter so where he needs to focus on his batting average, which sits below .200. He should focus on getting his average to .260 even though his career average is .293.

Bautista is still hitting the long ball with seven home runs, but his average sits at .223 which is not good enough. If he expects to get a hefty pay day in the offseason then he needs to improve his offensive numbers because teams will not want to pay for a player that is declining offensively, especially at his age. However, there is one player that the Blue Jays really need to get going if they want to turn things around and that is their AL MVP.

Donaldson got off to a great start this season but in his last 30 games he is hitting .219 with four home runs and nine RBI. Based on his current pace he is projected to hit 32 HR, 89 RBI with a .264 batting average.

This is definitely lower than the 41 home runs, 123 RBI and .297 batting average that he had last season.

Sure it is tough to follow up on a career year that he had, but because of the team’s struggles offensively Donaldson will need to be one of the players to step up, especially because he is a vital part of this team’s future.

Given the type of competitor that last year’s MVP is there is no doubt that he will get back on track. The question for him should not be “if” but “when”. Hopefully the home run against the Minnesota Twins is what turns things around.

Eventually with the return of Devon Travis it would give them a leadoff hitter that will get on base and not sacrifice defensively at second base.

Toronto Blue Jays
Jul 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis (29) hits an RBI double in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Ryan Goins has struggled offensively, and although he provides great defence and the ability to play shortstop, he does not spark the team offensively like Travis could.

Obviously losing Chris Colabello also hurts the offence, but obviously the chances of him returning are very slim with the suspension. So getting Travis back should help with that, but the Blue Jays need their best hitters to get going.

Where the offence will also help is late in games, as they could take pressure off the bullpen who has also struggled. The Blue Jays had their struggles last season in close games but this season there is a head scratching statistic that has hurt the Blue Jays.

Part of the problem is the bullpen not being capable of holding the lead but what this means more is the fact that the offence has not bailed out the pitching. Last season the Blue Jays could win games with their hitting but that has not been the case this season with the emphasis more on pitching and defence.

If the Blue Jays pitching can hold up and the offence gets better there should be no reason why the Blue Jays cannot win the AL East. The Boston Red Sox have gotten the offence that the Blue Jays need but sit 18th in team ERA and they do not have the depth that the Blue Jays have in their rotation.

So it is still early to be concerned with the offence because it is a slump involving players that should get back on track. Given how good the starting pitching has been, once the offence gets better the Blue Jays will go on a run that will propel them to the top of the AL East.

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This is something that president Mark Shapiro reiterated Friday on the Jeff Blair Show. The past two games against the Minnesota Twins have shown what this team can do when the top players step up and hopefully for the Blue Jays it continues.

**All stats listed above as of May 19th**