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Photo Credit: © David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays yet again come up short against one of the American League’s best

The Blue Jays have had the most difficult schedule in baseball so far.

They own a 31-29 record through 60 games, which is slightly worse than their 32-28 record was at the end of the COVID-shortened season last year. Given the fact they haven’t seen the league’s worst yet, like Baltimore and Detroit, that’s fairly encouraging.

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But, still, at some point, if you want to be one of the best teams in the league, you have to beat the best teams in the league. You can’t just rely on kicking the shit out of the Orioles to compensate for not being able to beat the White Sox, Astros, and Rays.

After dropping two of three to the Astros, the Blue Jays went into Chicago and again lost two of three from the White Sox. It’s been a disappointing stretch against some of the American League’s best after a nice run against the Yankees and Cleveland last week.

Things worth mentioning…

  • A noticeable theme in the Chicago series was Toronto’s bullpen being ineffective. In the game on Tuesday, Robbie Ray put together an excellent start, allowing just one earned run over six-and-one-third innings while striking out 13. Rafael Dolis got through the seventh inning despite loading the bases and then Trent Thornton and Carl Edwards Jr. combined to allow five runs in the eighth. On Wednesday, the bullpen was good, as Anthony Castro, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Romano, and Tim Mayza threw four scoreless frames. Finally, on Thursday, Anthony Castro and Joel Payamps allowed Chicago’s one-run lead late in the game to balloon into a three-run lead, ultimately spoiling any chance of a Blue Jays comeback. Losing veterans in Kirby Yates and David Phelps for the season along with Ryan Borucki and Julian Merryweather for an extended period of time is obviously unfortunate, but the Blue Jays need to add to their bullpen if they want to compete. An inability to stop Chicago from scoring in the late innings was key to dropping this series.
  • Another interesting note is that the team has dropped back-to-back Hyun Jin Ryu starts for the first time during his tenure with the Blue Jays. He got rocked in the series-opener against Houston and got tagged with the loss on Thursday after allowing three earned runs over six innings. Over at Sportsnet, Nick Ashbourne had an interesting, albeit somewhat depressing post about Ryu and his worrying peripherals. Ryu’s change-up is slightly slower this year than it was last, and, when you’re a finesse pitcher, losing just one mile-per-hour on a pitch can be a significant game-changer. Anyway, Ryu wasn’t bad on Thursday. He could have had a three-up, three-down first inning had Lourdes Gurriel not been wearing a blindfold in the outfield in the first inning. It’s certainly something to monitor, but I wouldn’t slam the panic button on Ryu just yet.
  • Now, as much as we complain about the bullpen this series, the team ultimately got shut down by good pitching. In the first game, they scored only one run and allowed Carlos Rodon off the hook multiple times, ultimately stranding a whopping 19 runners on base. In the second game, they only pulled ahead due to a couple of misplays by the White Sox, as Riley Adams reached first on a strikeout and Teoscar Hernandez “drove in” two as Tim Anderson whipped a double-play ball into outer space. In the third game, they allowed Dallas Keuchel, who was averaging 4.5 strikeouts-per-nine, to record a season-high eight strikeouts. Looking at the home-away splits of some of the big bats on the Blue Jays is a tad worrying.