By Jessy Dhillon
I have been watching the Toronto Blue Jays since I was a six year old. I remember when Joe Carter caught the ball at first base for the last out against the Atlanta Braves to win Toronto’s first ever World Series. The following year I was jumping for joy again when Joe hit a home run to win the Jays second title in as many years. Little did I know that the next twenty years I would not see the Jays make the postseason. Finally after years and years of mediocrity, The Blue Jays made some huge moves this off-season to make a run for the post season.
The Blue Jays season started with such optimism. Many Major League Baseball experts had the Jays finally winning the American League East and clinching a berth into the post-season for the first time since 1993. Blue Jays General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos made the deal of the off-season by acquiring Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck from the Miami Marlins. The trade sent shockwaves throughout the major leagues showing that the Blue Jays were serious about winning. Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle were all expected to make an impact right from the start of the season. As of May 22, forty five games into the season the Blue Jays sit at eighteen wins and twenty seven losses. The Blue Jays are presently in last place in the AL East, and only the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins have worse records in the Majors.
Jose Reyes was the lone bright spot at the start of the season, averaging .395 at the plate in the ten games he played before going down with a severe ankle sprain in Kansas City. Since the injury, Reyes has missed thirty five games and is not due back to the lineup until late June. Right hander Josh Johnson, who is currently out with a triceps injury had started four games before being sidelined. Johnson’s numbers were far from stellar before the injury with an ERA of 6.86. Veteran innings eater Mark Buehrle who has pitched a perfect game and no hitter in his career has struggled finding his groove in Toronto. Buehrle has a record of one win and three losses in the nine games he has started for the Jays this season. He has only pitched through the seventh inning in two games. Starting pitchers who can consistently pitch into the seventh inning of ball games give their teams a great chance of winning games.
Alex Anthopoulos’ also made a seven player deal with the Mets to acquire 2012 National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. The Blue Jays dealt high-profile prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard. Anthopoulos rolled the dice on this trade. Knowing he had J.P. Arencibia emerging into a star catcher with the Jays, he could afford to trade highly touted D’Arnaud. The Blue Jays quickly signed knuckleballer Dickey to a three extension. After a struggling start to the season, R.A. Dickey has looked impressive in his last two starts. He has won both games by only giving up a total of four runs while dishing out fifteen strikeouts. Anthopoulos also took a risk and signed controversial outfielder Melky Cabrera to a two year deal. Melky was suspended fifty games last season due to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. So far the signing has looked like a good one. Cabrera is batting .282 and heating up.
Some positives of the Blue Jays disappointing season: After slow starts, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and Adam Lind look like they are heating up at the plate and finally finding their hitting groove. Encarnacion is among the leaders in home runs. Bautista’s batting average has risen to a respectable 250. With Jose Reyes back expected back in the line-up in June, the blue jays line up will be a force to pitch against. On paper the lineup looks like one of the best in the majors. The starting pitching has to be more consistent and not give up four or five run leads to opposing teams. Hitters tend to make more mistakes at the plate by swinging for the fences when the team is down by a large amount of runs.
The season is still young; the Jays can turn it around. It is up to the starting pitching to step up and pitch deep into ball games give their team a chance to win ball games because the hitting is there and is heating up.