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A Blue Jays fan’s guide to the rest of the playoffs – who’s still in the mix?

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Evan Stack
3 months ago
With the Yankees winning yesterday, the matchups for the ALCS and NLCS are set. Since Blue Jays faithful are forced to watch four teams not named Toronto fight it out, here are some names that might sway you toward an interest in a team winning the World Series.

Houston Astros

Aledmys Díaz – Diaz was traded to Toronto before the 2018 season from the St. Louis Cardinals. Toronto gave away JB Woodman, but it’s safe to say that the Blue Jays won this deal. Diaz turned out to be one of the better hitters in Toronto’s lineup in 2018, hitting 18 homers and 55 RBIs. More importantly, Diaz saw a lot of action at third base, mainly due to Josh Donaldson missing most of the season with injuries.
In November of 2018, Diaz was traded to the Astros for Trent Thornton. Diaz has been a very nice piece for Houston. Over four seasons with the Astros, Diaz has totaled 32 home runs and 129 RBIs while batting .255.
Although the 2018 season was forgetful for many Jays fans, Diaz’ contributions should be acknowledged by many, and it’d be worth cheering him on for the rest of the playoffs.
Yuli Gurriel – Despite having no affiliation to the Toronto Blue Jays, Gurriel is the older brother of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the current left fielder in Toronto. They have both made their mark by having the “pineapple look” (aka Piña Power). The Astros winning a World Series would make Lourdes very happy for his brother, and I’d say a happy Lourdes is a good thing.
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New York Yankees

I don’t know why you’d cheer for this team to win anything, but if you are, here you go…
Josh Donaldson – Donaldson was dealt to the Blue Jays in 2014 from the Oakland A’s in exchange for Brett Lawrie, Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman, and Franklin Barreto. Probably the most popular name on this list, Donaldson is most notable for his career renaissance with the Blue Jays, winning the 2015 American League MVP. During his four seasons in Toronto, Donaldson accumulated 116 homers, 316 RBIs and a .931 OPS.
Donaldson became a fan favorite quickly due to his clutch hitting and his famed quote, “This isn’t the ‘try’ league; it’s the ‘get it done’ league.”
Donaldson was traded to the then-Cleveland Indians in 2018 for a PTBNL (eventually became Julian Merryweather). He has become a journeyman of sorts now, as he has logged service time with Cleveland, Atlanta, Minnesota, and now New York after his time with the Blue Jays.
This season, Donaldson is batting .222 with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs. It hasn’t been his best year, but it may be his best shot at winning a World Series since the 2015-16 stints with Toronto.
Miguel Castro – Castro was signed as an amateur free agent in 2012 by the Blue Jays. He made it to the big leagues in 2015, pitching in 13 games for the Blue Jays, possessing a 4.38 ERA with a 8.8 K/9. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies as part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal.
Castro spent two seasons with the Rockies, followed by four years with the Orioles. Being the AL East punching bag that Baltimore was during the time Castro was there, he made several appearances against the Blue Jays, giving Dan Shulman and Buck Martinez an abundance of opportunities to tell this story.
This season, Castro owns a 5-0 record out of the bullpen with a 4.03 ERA.
Tim Locastro – Locastro was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 2013 Amateur draft. He never logged time with the Blue Jays, and he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 with Chase DeJong for international bonus slots.
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Philadelphia Phillies

Noah Syndergaard – Syndergaard was selected in the first round of 2010 amateur draft by the Blue Jays. He was dealt to the New York Mets in 2012 for Silver Slugger Josh Thole – wait, that can’t be right – 2012 Cy Young RA Dickey.
Syndergaard jumped onto the scene in 2015 with the Mets, becoming an integral part of their run to the World Series. He would also make the All-Star game in 2016, posting a 2.60 ERA across 30 starts. Although injuries would plague a lot of his recent seasons, Syndergaard was a bright young pitcher who Toronto had let go of.
Syndergaard was a near-acquisition at this year’s trade deadline, as the Phillies and Blue Jays were advertised as the final two teams in play for the veteran righty. With Philly proposing the better deal, Syndergaard was dealt there, posting a 4.12 ERA across ten outings with the Phils.
Brad Hand – Wait, no, this is the most popular name on this list. Albeit a short stint, Hand spent time with the Blue Jays during the 2021 season. He was acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Riley Adams, a catcher at the trade deadline. Hand had a 7.27 ERA over 11 outings with the Jays, and was DFA’d before the season’s end.
This season, Hand has been one of Philadelphia’s most solid relievers, flaunting a 2.80 ERA over 55 appearances.
Aaron Nola – Nola was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 2011 amateur draft, but he didn’t sign. The Phillies would snag him in the 2014 draft. Man, it would’ve been nice to keep him around the organization.
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San Diego Padres

Brandon Drury – Drury was acquired by the Blue Jays in 2018 as a part of the deal that sent JA Happ to the Yankees. Drury didn’t pan out as well as Jays fans had hoped, as his only best moments were seemingly two games against the Oakland A’s in 2019, hitting two clutch 3-run home runs – one on April 26th to walk off the game, and another on April 28th to tie the game in the 9th inning.
In three seasons with the Blue Jays, Drury slashed .208 with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs.
2022 has been a stellar season for Drury, as he somehow missed out on a bid to the All-Star game. He started the season with the Reds, but was dealt to San Diego at the trade deadline. Drury has had a career year, and is likely playing his way to a nice contract this offseason. During the regular season, Drury batted .263 with 28 home runs and 87 RBIs.
Joe Musgrove – Musgrove was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 2011 amateur draft, but his stint with the Jays was short-lived. in 2012, he was traded to the Houston Astros as part of the deal that sent JA Happ to Toronto for the first time. After spending five seasons between Houston and Pittsburgh’s MLB clubs, Musgrove was traded to San Diego in 2021.
San Diego is where Musgrove has found his stride. Last year against the Texas Rangers, Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in Padres history. He was selected to his first career All-Star Game this season, en route to a career-best 2.93 ERA over 30 starts.
Austin Nola – Similar to his brother, Nola was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2011, but did not sign with the club.

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