For a team that needs to play over .600 to have a shot at the playoffs, going 3-4 on its most recent road trip just isn’t going to cut it. It’s tough, though, when the rotation is in tatters. But injuries or not, the Blue Jays need to win games.
Tomorrow the Jays return home for 3 vs. the Rangers. We have to go 2-1 which means we either need to beat Yu Darvish on Saturday (Mark Buehrle might just do it) or we need Esmil Rogers to step up big time in tomorrow’s series opener. While R.A. Dickey has been far from a lock so far this season, coming off a classic performance yesterday, I feel that the Jays should have a definite advantage when Dickey toes the rubber to close out the series on Sunday.
To win 90 games which would give the Jays roughly an 80% shot at the postseason, they have to go 65-38 the rest of the way (.631 baseball). Yikes.
Although a friend of mine reminded me that the A’s were under .500 at the allstar break last season and went on to win the AL West. Not an easy task. So it’s possible for the Jays to make a run.
I also saw an interesting stat in Sportsnet magazine. Every team has injuries, so it’s hard for fans, coaches, and players to use injuries as an excuse for the Blue Jays situation. But here is the stat: at May 10th (when the article was published), the Blue Jays had 10 players on the DL. To put that into some perspective, the Red Sox had 4, the Orioles 6, the Rays 3, and the Yankees a whopping 11. So the Jays can’t complain, right? The Yankees have just as many injuries, are still performing, and well into a divisional race.
WRONG! Of the Yankees on the DL, only 36% are pitchers. In fact, no team in the MLB has a higher percentage of pitchers on the DL if you take the DL’ed pitchers divided by the total players DL’ed on a team. The Jays are at 90%! Also, no team has more than 7 pitches on the DL other than the Jays (9 pitchers on the DL). Of the 11 Yankees on the DL, only 4 are pitchers (which is 2nd most in the AL East after Toronto).
We all know pitching is the key to success. And right now, the Jays pitching staff is hurting. Getting Josh Johnson back healthy is huge. Having Dickey pitch healthy is huge. Now we just need Brandon Morrow and J.A Happ to come back and we’ll be set to make a run. With the rotation healing, I’m not counting out a Blue Jays run just yet.
The Blue Jays received some good news following a frightening incident last night during their game in Tampa. Starting pitcher J.A. Happ was struck on the head by a line drive and taken off the field on a stretcher. The ball was hit so hard, it bounced off his head and all the way to the Rays bullpen.
It was a terrifying event but the good news is it looks like Happ will eventually be ok; he was released from the hospital today with a contusion to the head and a left ear laceration (where he was struck by the ball).
Happ is scheduled to speak to the media today at 5 pm EDT at Tropicana Field, so he must be somewhat ok.
The Blue Jays, however, have already moved him to the 15-day DL and called up Edgar Gonzalez from triple-A to fill the roster spot. It remains to be seen if Gonzalez fills Happ’s spot in the rotation temporarily until Josh Johnson can return or if he has simply been called up to provide bullpen depth since Happ only went 1.1 innings last night due to his injury. I’m betting this move is more about bullpen depth.
Happ entered last night’s game with a 3.98 ERA and had been one of the more consistent pitchers for the Jays.
Gonzalez has a 5.40 ERA in 3.1 innings with the Jays this year. He also has made four starts in triple-A and has posted a 5.49 ERA in 19.2 innings. In 353.1 major league innings, he holds a 5.83 ERA. Of the 115 games that he has appeared, 47 have been starts.
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!