After a disastrous April saw the Toronto Blue Jays start the season with an 8-17 record, the Jays battled injuries throughout May to improve their record to 26-27, keeping them within striking distance of the AL East-leading New York Yankees. Despite their unlucky injuries, the Jays have received some much needed support from players like Justin Smoak and Kevin Pillar.
Blue Jays Health will Determine June Success
It’s imperative that the Jays stay healthy in June. The returns of Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, combined with the upcoming returns of Steve Pearce, Francisco Liriano, and Aaron Sanchez, will provide a jolt to the Jays lineup. The Blue Jays health will determine how June plays out and their ability to keep pace in the division.
A veteran team like the Blue Jays will always be prone to injuries, but nobody expected them to go through what they did in April and May. The 2015 AL MVP, Donaldson, missed 38 games with a strained right calf, the five-time All-Star Tulowitzki missed 31 games with a strained right hamstring, four-time All-Star Russell Martin missed 12 games with nerve irritation, and their star pitcher, Sanchez, is back on the DL, along with Pearce and Liriano. Liriano is slated to make his return on Friday night against the Yankees at the Rogers Center, giving John Gibbons another starter back.
Veterans aren’t the only ones landing on the DL for the Jays however, as rookie call up Anthony Alford was placed on the 10-day DL last Wednesday with a fracture in his left wrist. He’s slated to be out for 4-6 weeks. The Jays depleted roster led to Gibbons fielding teams this season that were much weaker than he would have wanted. On May 18 against the Atlanta Braves, Ezequiel Carrera, Jose Bautista, and Kendrys Morales were the only starters that started on Opening Day.
Blue Jays in Line for a Strong June
Despite their injury-prone start to the season, the Jays got some much-needed help from players like Smoak and Pillar. The Jays will need their supporting cast to help keep that momentum as they continue to get players back. The Jays got the left side of their infield back on May 26 against the Texas Rangers, when Donaldson and Tulowitzki both made their returns, which was a major boost to the Jays lineup both offensively and defensively.
The Jays went 18-10 in May, and should be in line for a strong June if they can continue that momentum and stay healthy. Sanchez will be the only starter on the DL for the Jays once Liriano returns on Friday, meaning the Jays will have their entire rotation back and (relatively) healthy. Compare that to the Seattle Mariners, who have Hisashi Iwakuma, Ryan Weber, Felix Hernandez, and Drew Smyly on the DL, and it really shows how fortunate the Jays are.
The Blue Jays will kick off June on Thursday night against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Center. Marco Estrada will get the start for the Jays against CC Sabathia. Estrada is 4-2 with a 3.15 ERA this season, and has 78 strikeouts in 68.2 innings pitched. Sabathia has a 4.42 ERA and a 5-2 record so far.