To say that this season of Blue Jays baseball has been “disappointing” would be an understatement. Looking at a team that managed to reach the ALCS two seasons in a row prior to 2017, many fans of the Boys In Blue are left scratching their heads and muttering to themselves, “Just what the hell is going on this year?”
Now, to be fair, every baseball team worth a damn has their “off-year.” Even some of the recent World Series champions. The Chicago Cubs, a prime example here, won the World Series last year and now they have a 51-46 record. That’s not a terrible record, but they have been a sub .500 team most of the season, and are on pace for a prorated 85-77 record. That prorated 162-game record doesn’t even compare to the 103-58 team that won it all in 2016. The same thing happened the year after the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015. In between 2015 and 2016, the Royals went from winning it all to missing the playoffs. Case in point, a lot can change in baseball in just one year.
So here we are with the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays, a talented ball club that is having an off-year, but for several reasons. Under-performing batters, an inexperienced bullpen, and a quality starting pitcher that has been put on the DL several times (poor Sanchez) are all factors that have amounted to the team today that currently has a 44-54 record. Some of the newer fans are preaching, “All Atkins and Shapiro need to do is just blow the core up, trade all the veterans at the deadline, and start over.” While that is a popular opinion, it is also an unjustifiable one. And here is why the Blue Jays will stay put from big-name trades prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
- DON’T LISTEN TO THE STROMAN TRADE RUMORS. HE’S STAYING.
Really? If you are Atkins or Shapiro, why on earth would you even think of giving away your most talented/valuable asset for some “rebuilding pieces?” His ERA is under 3.00 – the ERA of a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Despite the team being 10 games below .500 overall, Stro boasts a 9-5 record thus far. And his WHIP? 1.26. Perfectly fine. And some of you want to trade away this stud for a handful of minor-leaguers just to say “hey, we’re building for the future?” Stroman is only 26 years old. He is the future.
2. THE BULLPEN CAN’T BE FIXED OVERNIGHT.
Fixing the mess that is the Blue Jays’ bullpen is easier said than done. Just like it is for the seven or eight teams above them right now in the AL wild card race (that can still actually make the playoffs) who also have a bullpen worth jacks**t. Teams like Seattle, Kansas City, and Texas have some decent offensive talent and decent fielders, but really don’t have the bullpen with the same level of talent to close games. So heading into July 31st, you have a bullpen market that is high in demand but low in supply. With all those teams above the Jays looking to make a late playoff push, and without the Blue Jays “blowing up the core” for a quick fix in a dead-end season, the Jays will most likely have to wait until the offseason to fix their bullpen woes.
3. GIVE HAPP, LIRIANO, AND (MAYBE) ESTRADA ANOTHER CHANCE.
It’s no surprise that every quality starter in the MLB – whether he’s an ace or your fifth guy in the rotation – has an off-year when you least expect it. A prime example of this is Yankees’ ace, Masahiro Tanaka. Prior to this season, Tanaka boasted an ERA around 3.00 in his first three seasons as an MLB ace and had a 39-16 record. This year, Tanaka has struggled mightily and has dropped to the bottom of the rotation with his 7-9 record and 5.37 ERA. And while Happ, Liriano, and Estrada (even combined) don’t nearly have the same level of elite talent as Tanaka does, the numbers above go to show how a pitcher’s numbers can drastically change from one year to the next if your “stuff” on the mound is no longer the stuff that is shutting down innings for the time being. That’s baseball.
Looking at Happ, Liriano, and Estrada specficially, you’re talking about three guys that have been the “fourth or fifth guy in the rotation” for most of their careers. As so, they have all been journeymen guys and have had their ups and downs in the majors. But despite all their brutal numbers this year in the mound, the starting-pitcher market right now – and probably this offseason too – is pretty slim pickin’s. So to trade any of these guys for spare parts or “future considerations” (that term makes me cringe, it’s like saying “hey, here’s a new laundry machine for your ball club” six months later), would not be the smartest decision right now.
Patience is the key here, Blue Jays fans. You just have to ride the tides for now, and see how things change (or not change) in the offseason. But it’s safe to say that if any major changes are going to happen to this ball club, it’s not going to happen in the next week.