After an ugly 2-4 homestand that saw the Blue Jays lose two more series – they have only won one series so far this year – the Jays hit the road for seven straight games vs. division rivals. With four games upcoming in Tampa – somewhere the Jays never seem to fair well – and then three in Boston, the Jays need to go at least 4-3 in my opinion.
There was a glimmer of hope at the end of the homestand, as the Jays pounded out a season high 15 hits on Sunday. For a week now, with a couple exceptions, batters have been seeing the ball better and are starting to drive it up the middle instead of trying to pull everything over the wall.
Let’s hope Mark Buehrle kicks off the road trip on the right note tonight vs. the Rays. Buehrle has been plaqued by the longball this season and needs to keep the ball in the park and give the Jays offence a chance. The Jays offence needs to put up some runs on this road trip and take the pressure off the pitching staff and the defence.
So the Jays are 11-21. Hardly inspiring. However, if we assume 90 wins will grab a playoff spot (it usually does, but doesn’t always – just ask last season’s Rays), we need to go 79-51 through the remainder of the season. Not impossible if we start playing well right now. However, the longer we wait to go on a run (and a truly believe we will at some point) we may be out of it and leaving fans thinking about next season by August.
79-51 means the Jays need to play .608 ball the rest of the way. Again, not impossible. But with every series loss the chances of making the playoffs become more improbable.
It’s strange to say this early in May, but these next seven games are really important!
Only a couple hours after posting that both R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson were on track to make their next scheduled starts on Friday and Saturday, the Blue Jays have place Johnson on the 15-day DL due to persistent triceps inflammation. Johnson has undergone an MRI which shows no structural damage, but after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday, the Jays appear to be taking the cautious route with the soon-to-be free agent and shutting him down temporary.
Johnson’s DL stint is retroactive to his last big league appearance so there is a change he only misses one more start. However, after skipping two starts, you have to wonder if the Jays will want him to do a minor league rehab assignment. Sergio Santos hit the DL earlier this season with a similar injury to his triceps and it was originally thought he would be ready to come back as soon as his stint was over. Well, it was over last week and he still isn’t back.
Ricky Romero has been called up for the Jays to pitch tomorrow in Johnson’s place. This is an interesting move since Romero only has one start in single-A this year after numerous bullpen sessions to work on his new throwing mechanics. I think the Jays are rushing Ricky back, but I guess they feel he is the best available option. With a 10-18 start and needing to play close to .600 baseball for the remainder of the season to have a shot at the playoffs, I suppose they don’t have much of a choice.
Unfortunately for Romero, in his return to Toronto he draws Felix Hernandez of the Mariners to pitch opposite him. King Felix is 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA so far this season. Let’s hope he has confidence in his new mechanics.
The silver lining in today’s news seems to be that Dickey also underwent an MRI this week and looks good to go for his start on Saturday. He is still suffering for a sore back and neck but said it didn’t feel as bad as it has after his latest side session. The MRI reveal slight inflammation but no serious injury. Dickey plans to continue to pitch through the pain.
I really thought Johnson would be one of the best, if not the best pitcher on the Jays staff this season. He still has a chance to be since the season is only about 15% complete, but he’ll have to come back quickly and then avoid the DL. In a contract year, he’ll be itching to prove his health and value, so look for good things when he comes back. If injuries persist, the Jays might be able to sign him to an extension for a year at a discount so he can prove his health and value next season before hitting the free agent market.
I keep telling a co-worker that starting with the win on Tuesday, the Jays will play .600 ball for the remainder of the season. It would be a good start by taking the series tonight (Happ vs. Dempster) and grabbing 2 of three this weekend vs. the Mariners.