It has been a tough month of May for the Toronto Blue Jays and if they want any chance of turning things around, it will have to come from their top players.
Seunghwan Oh did a good job over 1.2 innings, but John Axford and Tyler Clippard let the Oakland Athletics get back in the game with five runs in the eighth. This will usually sink a team, but it was still a one-run game.
A clean ninth inning from Deck McGuire gave the Blue Jays a chance to rally, with Teoscar Hernandez, Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak due up. Smoak was the only player able to reach base on a walk, while all three outs were strikeouts.
Safe to say it was not the type of effort providing much hope for a turnaround, in what has been an ugly stretch during the month of May. It is quickly taking away a promising start to the season, but now the problems are becoming clearer.
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It starts with their starting pitching which is 26th in the league with an ERA of 5.42, second in runs allowed with 159, fourth in hits allowed with 264 and fifth in walks allowed.
From 2014-2016, the rotation was the obvious strength of the team, averaging an ERA of 3.85. It certainly doesn’t help that Marco Estrada has taken a step back and Jaime Garcia has struggled recently, while injuries to Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman are taking their toll.
In the month of May, the bullpen is pitching the second most innings, allowing the second most runs and ranks third in walks allowed. That will continue to be a problem if the starting pitching is not able to pitch more than five innings.
Then there’s the offence which has surprising been better than expected. It ranks in the top five in runs and home runs, 18th in hits, fourth in walks, sixth in strikeouts and near the bottom in batting average and OBP.
However, in the month of May, they rank 18th in runs scored, third in strikeouts, third in walks drawn and 21st in OBP. That is not going to be enough to bail out their pitching,
So where can the Blue Jays find improvement? It obviously starts with the pitching, but there are other areas where the team has been lacking.
Josh Donaldson is hitting .206 in May which is nowhere near his capabilities, but he’s not the only player underperforming. There’s obviously Morales and Martin, who seem to do more harm than good when they’re in the lineup, although at least Martin produces on the field.
Simply put, the players that are supposed to perform haven’t and that’s why the team called a players-only meeting. Something needs to change, otherwise the front office will be preparing for their selling plan at the trade deadline.