Loss after loss, one more painful or horrendous than the other, the Blue Jays fans have heard the manager John Schneider implying that his team will come along. Reinforcing how gifted this group is, and how he appreciates their devotion to the game. Toronto’s fandom has been waiting for this referred talent to translate into a breakthrough moment, but the calendar is running out of days, and the Jays’ inability to show itself as a team with a winning image remains.
That is why a favorable schedule at the beginning of September is no reason to get your hopes up. The Blue Jays will play the Rockies (49-83), the Athletics (39-94, and its minus 308-run differential), and the Royals (41-93, including an awful 18-51 playing away). All of them are officially out of contention. So are the no longer mighty Yankees (64-68) against whom the Jays will play six times in the final two weeks of the regular season. But don’t forget that the Jays’ offense has had that endearing custom of making weak teams look respectable and hard to beat. Ask the Padres or the Guardians.
The Jays must do something they have not achieved in 46 years
Toronto has never won 20 games in September, which is the minimum number that they should be looking at if they dare to finish the regular season with 90+ wins so they can continue playing in October. Not even the 10 times the Jays have made the postseason (including the glorious 1992 and 1993) have been able to win that often. 2021 and his 19-9 run, which was not enough to make the playoffs because they ended fourth in the American League East, is the closest they have been to that mark.
Rushed and with casualties
Plus, it will be harder for them to win two out of every three games without his almost solely offensive leader Bo Bichette and his 3.2 Wins Above Replacement in play; he will be on the shelf until who knows when. Davis Schneider, the fun note in this often grim-faced team, is not enough to think big despite his explosive and unprecedented production. The Jays will still have to count on Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who hit only three
home runs in August and had, again, an underwhelming on-base percentage plus slugging (below .800). They will have to wait for the transformation of Alejandro Kirk into a sprinter because pinch-running for him is not in Schneider’s (John) late in the game plans. Or refrain the slumping Santiago Espinal from swinging the bat if he is ahead in the count 3-0 with runners in scoring position.
To the pitching staff, the one that led the MLB since the All-Star break in earned run average (3.37) until August 30th, you can’t ask for more than what they have already done. Their relievers have the best walk and hits per inning pitched (1.19) and the best strikeout-to-walk rate (3.27), while starters are second in strikeouts (758) and fifth in ERA (3.83). Perhaps to stay healthy and cope with the idea that the Jays’ bats can only produce around four runs per game and will not be able to come back late in games.
In addition, the Blue Jays —no longer paying attention to the AL East standings because the Orioles and Rays are way out of reach— have to light candles for several miracles to happen all at once. Or cross their fingers for all the planets to align. The AL West trifecta with the first option to claim the AL second Wild Card (Rangers, Mariners, Houston) finished August hot and a few steps away from the 90 victories. Two of them will have to derail so the Canadian crew can have a shot. On top of that, the Blue Jays will have to face the dreaded Rangers, that nightmare called the Red Sox (Toronto is 3-7 against them) and the unruly Rays.
It seems too late for the Blue Jays to put all their game elements together, without its more important bat, and hope for a disastrous performance from their rivals in the AL West at the same time. It may be more realistic to look at what they can do, better, in 2024.
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