Blue Jays can’t keep preaching patience if they want to change their losing ways

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
1 month ago
It’s a story that continues to take shape after a month into the campaign. Night after night, day after day, the Blue Jays bats can’t seem to figure out how to support their pitching staff to set the team up for success. It’s gotten to a point where the starting pitcher has to flirt with perfection if they want to lock down a win, which is concerning for a Blue Jays squad that boasts names up and down the lineup that has the ability and talent to put runs on the board but continue to fall short of early expectations.
That’s not to say the pitching staff isn’t without fault, as there are some underperformers in there as well right now, but regardless of whether the Jays pitchers give up three runs or ten runs, the bats haven’t been able to consistently score runs to support the other side, which is why they sit fourth in the AL East with a record under .500 through 32 games.
Following today’s earlier loss to the Kansas City Royals, manager John Schneider had this to say to the media, “It’s going to come… It’s May 1st. It will come. We will be better. That’s that’s what I can say to (fans) & I would hope our fans trust that we have really good players (who) understand they’re not performing up to their expectations…We’re not anywhere near where we can be… We know we need to be better… When it does click, I think you’re gonna see a complete brand of baseball. Right now it hasn’t worked consistently. But again, it will be better.”

Blue Jays manager John Schneider preaches patience and on the team getting better

Well if the Blue Jays want to make the postseason for a third consecutive campaign, they have no choice but to get better. And in a hurry.
Through the first month (31 games, not including today’s Royals game), the Blue Jays have scored just 110 runs, ranking 26th in the league right behind the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies who have yet to break ten wins on the season. The position players own a collective 98 wRC+, meaning they are considered average as a unit, and rank 14th in fWAR (4.2) while some players are outperforming their teammates by a wide margin on both sides of the ball.
For example, Daulton Varsho (1.3), Justin Turner (0.6), and Danny Jansen (0.6), who has only played in ten games this season, make up 59.5% of the total fWAR value for the Jays position players. The top three names in the lineup, George Springer (0.2), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (0.1), and Bo Bichette (-0.1) don’t even collectively match what Isiah Kiner-Falefa has put forward this season on his own (0.5), a player who was brought in as a utility type athlete with a track record of not being able to produce at the plate.
Considering fWAR takes into account defensive metrics, Varsho’s recent power streak and exceptional defense have put him ahead of his teammates while the likes of Springer, Guerrero, and Bichette are heavily underperforming at the plate, which is dragging their fWAR value down by substantially even when factoring fielding metrics into the equation (with Bichette being the only one of the three to post a positive defensive value via FanGraphs).
As a squad, the Blue Jays also rank 17th in OBP (.312), 19th in wOBA (.305), 22nd in home runs (27), and 27th in BABip (.267) amongst a host of other stats that seem them on the wrong side of the league median. With runners in scoring position, the story gets even more dreary, as the Jays rank dead last in OPS (.562) and have just 77 runs to their name with a .195/.295/.267 slash line. The RISP issues have tested fans’ patience since last season when the Blue Jays squad finished with a collective .260/.340/.390 line with a .730 OPS, ranking 20th in the league while the club failed to capitalize on scoring chances on numerous occasions stretching into the postseason.
The easy answer to the solution is hoping for the top bats to turn things around like Schneider mentioned, adjusting at the plate and finding ways to produce, as the club really won’t find success if the likes of Guerrero Jr., Bichette, Springer, and Alejandro Kirk continue to keep batting at the rate they are for the rest of the season. Neither one of those players owns an OPS over the .700 mark and all sit below a .350 OBP, which is remarkable considering Guerrero and Springer have 18 and 14 walks respectively to begin the year. It’s safe to say that nobody expected all three of the top bats to begin the way they have this campaign but the truth of the matter is that the front office hedged their bets on the core producing, and so far, they are leaving the casino with security escorting them to their vehicles.

Blue Jays pitchers shoulder some blame as well

That’s not to say the Blue Jays pitchers aren’t without their faults.
This patience motto should also extend to the pitching staff, namely in the bullpen, where the once dominant Blue Jays relief corps continues to hit snag after snag when it comes to locking down games and finding consistency from those they have turned to in the past. Sure there have been some injuries and some late ramp-ups from dependable guys like Erik Swanson and Jordan Romano, but outside of Yimi Garcia and Chad Green (who is now on the IL), the rest of the group has not gotten off to a strong start.
Five relievers currently own an ERA over the 4.00 mark and collectively, the bullpen ranks 24th in terms of ERA (4.88) while allowing opponents to produce a .245 batting average. The starting rotation is also not without fault, as the likes of Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi have carried the team so far this season while Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, and Bowden Francis/Yariel Rodriguez have yet to find consistency through April, although they are trending in the right direction as of late which is at least a positive sign.

Front office offseason gambles have not paid off as of yet (and might not)

It was a risky gamble that Ross Atkins and the Jays’ front office decided to hedge on a bounce-back season across the board after a down 2023 campaign from numerous roster players, looking at internal resources and coaching alignments to hopefully find a new gear within the bats already in the system.
The Justin Turner signing was a smart edition (at least at the moment), with the veteran bat doing exactly as advertised out of the gate in finding ways to get on base and drive in runs, and the emergence of Davis Schneider and Ernie Clement has certainly helped cushion the blow. But the risk so far has not come to fruition.
The Jays are sitting fourth in the division with a 15-17 record that is just one win higher than the Tampa Bay Rays and their dreadful start to the season as well. The Orioles and Yankees currently both have 19 wins apiece (at the time of writing) while the Red Sox have 17 under their belt, creating an early divide that is indeed catchable for the Jays but is far enough that patience is running thin on a team that is not meeting expectations and can’t afford to lose what many would consider as winnable games.
But with the recent batting woes, the question will always remain – was it enough? Should the Blue Jays have added another bat this past offseason? For a team that has to contend in the AL East, will they have enough firepower in their lineup to contend?
What the Blue Jays need to avoid this year is the possibility of putting themselves in a similar situation they were in last season, with opposing teams within the American League heavily influencing the team’s playoff fate versus Toronto taking actions into their own hands and setting themselves up for success.
The ‘it’s still early’ narrative will be in play for those who buy into the ‘hopefully things turn around’ ideology (which is not guaranteed), but a strong start in the AL Central by the Guardians, Royals, and Tigers as well as the numerous teams over .500 within the AL East and West is setting the course for the Jays to be in the same scenario as last season, that’s if they find a way to break out of their hitting woes and enter the playoff contention talks at all. Things can change as the season continues but if the Jays find themselves one or two games short of October baseball, they will only be kicking themselves when they reflect on how they squandered away chances in April as they preached on patience and “it will get better”.

The Blue Jays’ plan is not working

At a certain point, something will have to give, whether that is a change to the hitting approach/philosophy, a change to the coaching staff and instruction, or some more new blood alongside Addison Barger at the big league level to help bring a new level of offense, a tough task for a prospect like Orelvis Martinez or Spencer Horwitz to hopefully create a Davis Schneider 2.0 sparkplug similar to last year and one that isn’t guaranteed given the enormous task at hand.
While generating offense and finding ways to score more runs is easier said than done and the discourse given the one-month sample size and how things can turn on short notice will always be a debating factor amongst fans, the fact of the matter remains – the current plan isn’t working, the risk of not signing any additional bats this past winter hasn’t panned out, and there are more questions than answers for a team that could be on the verge of blowing things up within the next two seasons without any core players locked down long-term outside of Berrios.
While the Jays certainly aren’t in a position to start rebuilding at the moment, if the current trend continues and the bats continue to falter at the plate, tough questions will need to be asked about the future of this organization. There will come a time when relying on things to turn around will be too late and decisions will need to be made on whether this core can reach postseason glory, whether that is this year or next.
For now, continuing to preach patience is wearing thin on a Blue Jays fanbase that continues to wait for the team to find ways to win, a potential crack in the armour that could decide the fate of the Jays front office sooner than later if the team falls short again this year.

Tyson Shushkewich is a contributor at the Blue Jays Nation. He can be followed on X or Instagram at Tyson_MLB or reached via email at Tyson_MLB@hotmail.com

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