While teams can’t win pennants in April, they can certainly dig themselves into deep holes. The Toronto Blue Jays entered the season with high hopes and playoff expectations, but already have shown a great number of cracks in their foundation. The Jays are in danger of losing the season before it even truly starts. While there is still plenty of time to turn things around, you should not be too optimistic about the Jays this year.
The Toronto Blue Jays Struggles will Continue
Because Donaldson has only been a stud for a few years, we tend to think he is somewhat young. However, Donaldson was 27 in his first full season and was 29 in his incredible MVP season in 2015. Josh is now on the wrong side of 30, and has been dealing with a troublesome calf problem. Donaldson is a very good player, but the Jays now have to start questioning if his production can continue in the upcoming years.
Bautista is the player most are concerned about this season. Bautista has been elite with the Jays, showcasing his top-end power and excellent vision. However, last year signs of decline and aging began to show. He hit a paltry .234 and struggled with injuries for most of the year. So far, Bautista has not proved the doubters wrong, as he has batted under .200 with only one homer. Just a couple years ago, Bautista was a force in the middle of the lineup, and the Jays need him to regain form this year to compete. However, father time is undefeated and Bautista has simply not looked like the same player as he was in his glory days.
Tulowitzki is another player with his best days behind him. While he can still be a solid shortstop, Tulo is no longer the MVP threat he was in Colorado. The oft-injured shortstop still has some power, evidenced by his 24 home runs last year, but his plate skills have declined. His batting average, walk rate, and strikeout rate have all worsened recently. Given his age, many doubt he can regain All-Star form.
Kendrys is a solid DH, but he is half of Toronto’s previous DH, Edwin Encarnacion. Kendrys is also 33 years old; expecting him to continue his current rate of production would be naive.
Star closer Roberto Osuna would stand out in just about any bullpen; however, almost every other pitcher in the Jays ‘pen is a practical no-namer. Do the names Joe Biagini, Joe Smith, Dominic Leone, Aaron Loup, Danny Barnes, and Jason Grilli strike fear into the hearts of their opponents? Can the uninspiring group carry a playoff team? Probably not. There is a reason teams are stacking their bullpens these days: a deep bullpen is essential to making it through the 162-game season and is even more important in the playoffs. The Blue Jays, clearly, have not gotten the memo.
Many think the Jays have a great lineup, but the consensus is skewed by their big-name players. Fans see Donaldson, Bautista, and Tulowitzki, and think the team has a great offense. However, once you look past these studs, the rest of the Jays lineup consists of merely mediocre bats, inclduing the likes of Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, Justin Smoak, Chris Coghlan, and Ryan Goins. All of these players are fine utility or bench bats, but none should be starting on a playoff-hopeful team. Their lack of depth has already become an issue, as Donaldson and Tulowitzki have been hurt. This has thrust unproven and untalented players into everyday roles. If their struggles continue, do not be shocked to see the Jays selling at the deadline.