Here We Are Again
Photo credit:© Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
By Cam Lewis2 months ago
A quiet exit in October has become a theme for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The team is now 0-for-6 in the playoffs in the Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. era following this year’s loss to the Twins. It’s the same spot as usual but it feels different than in previous years.
It felt like a learning experience when they lost to the Rays in the Wild Card round in the expanded playoffs in 2020. Everybody was just happy to be there and it was important for the young players to get a taste of meaningful baseball, because they’d be playing in a lot of those games in the years to come, of course.
It felt as though it was the start of something great when the Blue Jays finished the 2021 season the way that they did. Coming up short after Game 162 was painful but there was genuine optimism that the best was yet to come.
It felt like a necessary reality check the team had to face when they imploded against the Mariners in 2022. Playing in front of an empty Tropicana Field during the pandemic wasn’t the same bright lights as a home playoff game in front of 50,000 fans and the team needed this failure to avoid it in the future.
But this year? It felt predictable. There’s no excuse, no learning experience, no underlying positive.
The Blue Jays went on a lifeless slog to 89 wins and got shut down in the playoffs by the winner of the worst division in baseball. The Twins were meant to be the easy path through the playoffs and they took the Blue Jays down without breaking a sweat.
They got embarrassed by the Mariners last year and they made changes over the winter to be more prepared for October baseball. When it was all said and done, the Run Prevention version of the Blue Jays made it to the exact same spot as the Home Run Jacket Blue Jays, two teams who went about things in different ways but were ultimately the exact same.
So, what’s next? What’s the missing piece to the puzzle? Do you look for a guy who hits the ball at a certain launch angle because it’ll play well with the new luxury seating? Do you shuffle the deck chairs a little bit and look for a left-handed veteran hitter who can hit curveballs when Mercury is in retrograde? Do you run it back and hope that there have now been enough paddlings in the playoffs that the energy that existed down the stretch in 2021 comes back to life?
This is suddenly a team that’s getting older with lots of heavy financial commitments and there aren’t a bunch of saviours coming up from the farm system. A lot of things went right for the Blue Jays in 2023 and it never felt easy, so, looking ahead, getting back to even this level could be a challenge.
The learning experiences don’t seem to be helping, so it might be time to make some more significant changes. If not, you can probably bank on the Blue Jays being back in this same spot this time next year.
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