26

Nine Games In May

If 2-11 was an unfortunate, ugly start to the season, what has hit the Blue Jays since, in terms of injuries, is nothing short of a calamity.

  • April 15: Josh Donaldson goes on the 10-day DL.
  • April 16: Aaron Sanchez placed on the 10-day DL
  • April 18: J.A. Happ finds himself on the 10-day DL.
  • April 22: Troy Tulowitzki hits the 10-day DL.
  • April 30: Aaron Sanchez activated off the 10-day DL.
  • May 1: Aaron Sanchez back on the 10-day DL.
  • May 3: Marcus Stroman leaves a start complaining of shoulder tightness.
  • May 8: Russell Martin heads to the DL.
  • May 9: Kendrys Morales injures hamstring, MRI results pending.

It’s been a surreal 25 days since Donaldson hit a double against Baltimore and pulled up with a re-aggravated calf injury on April 13th. The club is 11-14 over that span. Since then they’ve seen the Mat Latos era come and go. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is gone. Ty Kelly and Juan Graterol, too. Neil Ramirez has also come and gone. Casey Lawrence, Matt Dermody, Dany Barnes, Leonel Campos, Luke Maille, Mike Ohlman, and J.P. Howell have all been variously activated and/or deactivated.

To have gone 11-14 through all of that is, frankly, kinda fucking remarkable. But it has felt a looooong way from it, because they entered the Donaldson game already in a 1-7 hole.

The worst now seems to be nearly over. Aaron Sanchez is slated to return on Sunday. Troy Tulowitzki might play in rehab games over the weekend and rejoin the club next week. Donaldson shouldn’t be too far behind. And with due respect to Martin, Morales, and Happ, if you had to choose you’d clearly prefer to have Donaldson, Tulo, and Sanchez healthy.

Of course, this club really needs everybody healthy if they’re going to climb out of the hole that they’re in quickly enough for it to matter. But in the meantime there is actually a little bit of hope for the Blue Jays, and it comes in the form of the schedule.

The Mariners are in for four games starting on Thursday, and their rotation is as battered as the Jays’ lineup at the moment. Worse off, even. Hisashi Iwakuma has been placed on the DL with shoulder troubles, meaning four of Mariners’ five top starters are currently on the shelf. The Jays are slated to face Chase De Jong (a former Blue Jays prospect who was dealt to the Dodgers two years ago for international bonus pool slots in the run-up to the Vladito signing), Christian Bergman, TBA (likely Dillon Overton, so far as I can tell), and Ariel Miranda.

Overton, Miranda, and De Jong are sitting on ERAs of 5.06, 5.20, and 6.75 respectively. Bergman gave Seattle 3.2 nice innings of relief work against Texas this weekend, but posted an 8.39 mark in 24.2 innings for the Rockies last season.

Those aren’t sneaky-good pitchers you just haven’t heard of yet. They’re guys the Jays ought to feast on — and who, as the insufferably jaded among the fan base will surely quip, they inevitably won’t.

The Jays will follow this up with four games — two at home, two away — against the 11-19 Barves.

Win tonight against Cleveland, run the table in these next eight very winnable games, and the Jays are back to .500!

Asking that is, of course, far too much. It’s damn near impossible for a team to win nine straight, and at least as impossible to predict when a struggling and injury-riddled club might snap off a streak like that.

It’s also a bit rich to suggest that a season hangs in the balance because of nine games in May. But the Blue Jays will literally not be given a better opportunity this season to right this ship than in these next nine. The Mariners are reeling. The Barves are bad.

Even six or seven wins over this spell would serve the club very, very well. It might not full-on turn the season around, but it would at least turn the narrative that the season is all-but-over around — and that alone would be fucking welcome at this point. And, most importantly, it’s fucking doable.

And the other side of that coin is, if they merely tread water through this spell, or if they somehow do even worse than that, it will be wholly fucking demoralizing.

To wit:

 

Wins Over Next 9 Games Record On 05/19
(120 games remaining)
Emotional State W% Required to Get to 89 Wins
 0-9 12-30  💀💀💀  .641 (104 win pace)
1-8 13-29  🤢⚰️  .633
2-7 14-28  💩  .625
3-6 15-27  👎  .617
4-5 16-26  😑  .608
5-4 17-25  😕  .600
6-3 18-24  😯  .592
7-2 19-23  😁  .583
8-1 20-22  👀🔥  .575
9-0 21-21  😍😍😍  .567 (92 win pace)

* * *

Granted! They follow this string up with three in Baltimore, two in Milwaukee, three at home to the fuckbag Rangers, and then three more home dates against the shitty Reds to close out the month. Right away there’s another somewhat soft part of the schedule, and maybe that could be the point at which they finally start to turn things around. But they can’t keep hoping to tread water much longer than that.

The June schedule is daunting. Afterwards it gets even worse.

June begins with four with the Yankees then a west coast road trip to visit Oakland and Seattle. The Jays come home for the Rays and White Sox, then go on the road at Texas and Kansas City. After that it’s a homestand that starts with the Orioles and moves into July against the Red Sox. A three-game visit to the Bronx and then four with the Astros and we’re already at the All-Star break.

A healthy Jays roster could conceivably make up some ground in June after treading water through May, but that looks like a much tougher road.

Oh, and isn’t this fun: the Jays come out of the All-Star break with a ten game road trip to Detroit, Boston for four, and then Cleveland.

You don’t want to get to those ten games still needing a big streak to make up ground. By the time that road trip is over, you’re just a week away from the trade deadline.

Baseball is a funny game, and wins and losses don’t come in predictable ways, but it still generally holds that you’re less likely to beat good teams than you are bad ones. It also generally holds that if you don’t beat the bad ones, what you do against the good ones isn’t going to matter a whole hell of a lot anyway.

There are still 129 games remaining on the schedule, so it’s slightly crazy to say that these next nine games have any sort of extra-special significance. But looking at the schedule ahead, and looking at their opponents for eight of these next nine, and looking at how quickly time is running out for the Jays to establish themselves as buyers — or at the very least neutral — at the trade deadline (56 of the remaining 129 games will be played after July 31st), and it’s hard to deny that the time almost has to be now.

LET’S GO FUCKING STREAKING ALREADY.

  • Rob Ray

    To expect this team to suddenly put it all together seems a bit of a reach. Bautista is in another deep trough. His eighth inning single last night ended an 0 for 21 drought where he struck out 11 times in those 21 AB’s. His 44 strikeouts are 5th highest in baseball right now (Gallo, Texas-51, Story, Colorado-48, Davis, Baltimore-46, Villar, Milwaukee-45). In short, how long do you keep running him out there to bat 2nd or 3rd and make an out (non productive outs at that) before you sit him for a few days? Is he hurt? Something clearly isn’t right. Maybe Father Time has finally caught him.

  • Space Ghost

    This will seem crazy, but what about bringing up Vlad Jr.? Just look at how well he’s hitting, is it so hard to jump to the majors from his level? He can’t be any worse than Bautista right now.

    • The Humungus

      I think that Rowdy Tellez would be the most likely guy if they bring up anyone. Unless the centre in on a OF and throw Alford into the fire (fuck this “pressure to perform” bullshit, that dude played QB in the SEC, he lived pressure for two years). Plus, Vlad Jr. isn’t even the best hitter on his team right now. Although he has closed the gap on Bichette in the last week.

        • The Humungus

          Not at all. I can’t stand the NHL. Worst run pro-sports league on the planet.

          But, there’s nothing wrong with discussing who may get an opportunity when you consider that the team has 5 all-stars out with injury at present.

          There’s only so many times they can run trash Quad-A players out there before the well runs dry. I’d rather see Tellez get some 1b/DH at bats than the empty husk of a man who used to be Ryan Howard

        • The Humungus

          Felix Hernandez was 19. Bryce Harper was 19. Mike Trout was 20. Ken Griffey Jr. was 19.

          I understand these are generational players. But, Alford is in his age 23 season (he’ll be 23 in July). And he’s performing well in AA. My apologies on it, he played QB in C-USA, Safety in the SEC. But he’s a kid who understands what it’s like to perform under pressure in a way that a lot of other AA players likely don’t. It’s just hypothesizing. I just think he’s the most likely guy to find his way to Toronto if they call up a “prospect” for the reasons I just mentioned.

          • A Guy

            And for every generational talent that has adjusted, there are countless others that have not. Many Jays included. Let them mature and develop their skills and let the guys that have performed in the past settle in – they’ve only played 34 games! This team is not a basket case – when healthy.

          • The Humungus

            Dude, I’m absolutely fine with letting the guys with a pst track record settle in.

            I think this whole comment has been misunderstood, because I think that people on here just expect guys to act like clowns.

            I’m fine with letting guys progress to their mean. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about replacements for the guys who are on the DL, and, if the team gets to a point where they have to choose between some quad-A retread or ghost of a former major leaguer to cover for an injured player, that my personal preference would be to call someone up from the minors.

    • Mule or etc...

      What’s crazy would be burning service time and starting the arbitration clock for what would essentially be a Hail Mary attempt to salvage the season. It would make Vlad a free agent at 24 though, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

      • Space Ghost

        They should do something. If this team isn’t competitive, I wonder about its long term future. Hell, even Paul Beeston once suggested the Jays should be retracted.

  • Mule or etc...

    Jays team OPS right now is .657, good for 27th in the majors, which considering they play in the AL in Rogers Centre, is quite the achievement. Their offense has declined for three straight years as veterans have just gotten older while Devon Travis has really been the only new blood to take the field (when he can.)

    They got lucky the last two years with exceptional pitcher health. That chicken has come home to roost and the Jays don’t have the offense or the pitching depth (but who does?) to make up for it.

    There is no point in pulling a Philadelphia and pretending that an aging, mediocre core is going to carry them to the playoffs and they lack the prospect capital to bring in the required talent.

    To quote Lisa concerning Homer’s pig, “It’s gone, Dad.”

    • Mule or etc...

      To finish my thought after being called into a job and then roped into a beer I… I need to rant first but then I’ll finish my thought.

      Okay, it’s late and I’m nice enough to drop what I’m doing and go work for an hour in the middle of the evening. And you’re thankful and you offer me a beer. And why is it always goddamn Bud Light? Or Moose Light, the cream soda of beers? Why does no one ever pull out a McAuslan’s Oatmeal Stout? I’m polite and I’m thankful for your generosity but now I have to drink this goddamn thing while thinking of the idiotic things I could be writing on a baseball blog from the comfort of my recliner, my bong, and my beer with flavor.

      Anyway, back to it. There is more than baseball to winning and a rebuild could be fascinating to watch. Look what the Yankees did with two relief pitchers (the fuckers). It doesn’t have to be long and painful and the Jays should have some decent prospects coming up in a couple years. And yes I know ever fan says this about every team but if Donald Trump and Trevor Bauer have taught me anything it’s that self-awareness is not an asset.

  • Holly Wood

    From my seat at home, here are some things I would consider. 1. Drop Bautista down in the order, we need to start cashing in on Pillar’s good start. 2. When Tulo returns, move Goins to second full time, send Travis to Buffalo until at least the all star break, hopefully Travis can recover his confidence there. His offence has dropped off a cliff and its now affecting his defence. Keep Biagini in the rotation and consider DFA’ing Liriano who is not getting it done and the team can not afford any more of his bad starts. The sportsnet crew had me believing he was a Cy Young candidate in March. 4. Start a write in campaign to have Justin Smoak appear on Bob McCown’s show. OK what are your thoughts?