One Blue Jays month like another

By Bob Elliott

There is a similarity between the first two months of this season and the Blue Jays All-In season of 2013.

Back then they opened seven games under in April and were another two more under in May.

And this in the 39th year of the franchise (and looking like 22 straight without a post-season appearance) they were one game under in April and four more below sea level in May.

If 2013 was All-In, this is a Must-Win Season for the Jays.

Two years ago Jays management -- general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons -- were working with a net in president Paul Beeston.

True, the American League East is the now the AL Least in terms of talented division with parity/is there for the taking/with five bad teams ... take your pick.

We keep hearing that, so it must be true.

But what if at 1/3 of the way through the season, more than a weekend series and bigger than a bread box in terms of sample size, Your 2015 Toronto Blue Jays have only given us an indicator of what the final four months will be.

What if they are a sub .500 team?

Let’s look at the past three seasons.

Four winning months (2013: June when they went 17-9; 2014 May 21-9, July 15-11, September 14-12) out of 14 since April of 2013.

Not good enough unless the team is trying to gain a better spot in next June’s draft.

What indicators are that they will turn around quicker than the Houston Astros.

You have to pull Blue Jays jerseys over your head -- maybe both your Robbie Alomar and Jose Bautista blue tops -- haul out your 1993 World Series cap and put each hand inside your two we’re No. 1 foam fingers to believe that this group is capable of reeling off three winning months in the final four?

The Jays took the field in D.C. Monday night to face the Washington Nationals seated in fourth place in the AL East, six games under .500, 3 1/2 games back of the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays, who share first with identical 26-25 records. They are five games back of the second wild-card spot.

Maybe you have already adjusted the former projected AL East win total to from the 94-to-98 range, you have lowered your expectations to 90.

And dropped them bar again to 81 wins.

The frustrating part about being a fan of this team is where to target your angst.

The rotation is a good place. The starter’s ERA came down a couple of notches in May, but two months through the season they sit 14th in the AL ... with a 4.93 combined ERA, better than only the Boston Red Sox.

The No. 1 foible of this team -- 9-16 on the road without winning a series since visiting Baltimore the first road trip of the year -- can bounce around the diamond like a lottery number.

Whose turn is it next?

Is it the bullpen’s turn, or the lineup going 1-for-whatever with zero RBIs with men in scoring position?

When they pitch well enough to win as Drew Hutchison did on Sunday, the shortstop is skipping throws to first like a child flinging rocks into Lake Ontario and counting the hops. First baseman Edwin Encarnacion saved Jose Reyes on one throw and was unable to on another as Aaron Hicks reached with the Jays leading 5-4 in the seventh.

And Reyes is earning $22 millions this year ... and will next year. And will the year after that. 

You think his range to his right is limited now, check back in 2018 ... if you are still interested.

And first baseman/DH Chris Colabello may force the Jays to add a plus-minus category to the stats sheet. He can knock in three with a double and a homer, then play two fly balls into doubles leading to runs in a span of a couple of innings. 

Unable to catch Joe Mauer’s fly ball (the runner would have scored from third anyway) he couldn’t track down Torii Hunter’s drive in the seventh which went for a two-run double over his head in left. 

He singled and scored in the second. (That would be a minus if you are manning the NHL’s old Emery Edge award plus-minus board at home.) 

He was a plus on Friday when he hit a game-winning two-run homer off closer Glenn Perkins on Friday and skated out for the first star honors.

The outfield situation is expected to somewhat normalize when Jose Bautista trots out to right Monday night. The team was not constructed for Colabello to be in the outfield.

No, the outfield was supposed to look left to right, Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey and Bautista. 

Instead the leaders in games started in left are Kevin Pillar 13, Colabello 12 and infielder Danny Valencia 11.

In centre it’s Pillar, who hit .181 in May, with 35 and Pompey with 16. Pompey is at triple-A Buffalo and playing again after a knee injury.

And in right it’s Ezequiel Carrera 15, Bautista 14 and Colabello 13 with starts.

It is a mess.

But fear not.

Rogers Communications is spending $125.9 million US this year -- compared to $137.2 million a year ago, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Fear not.

There is cash to spend at the deadline. 

Yeah sure.

Like last year. 

Riding high in April, Shot down in May
Kevin Pillar

April 1 11 .273 .694 
May 1 6 .181 .494 

Devon Travis
April 6 19 .325 1.018 
May 1 7 .185 .556

Ryan Goins
April 0 4 .276 .667
May 1 8 .236 .615

R. A. Dickey

April 5 0-3 31.0 5.23
May 5 2-2 33.0 6.27 

Daniel Norris
April 5 1-1 23.1 3.86
May Triple-A Buffalo

Marco Estrada
April 0 1-0 10.2 0.84
May 5 0-3 28.2 5.02 

Shot down in April, Riding high in May
Month HR RBIs Avg. OPS

Josh Donaldson
April 5 16 .319 .919 
May 10 23 .306 1.022 

Chris Colabello
April Triple-A Buffalo
May 4 14 .368 .986    

Jose Bautista 
April 5 13 .164 .767
May 2 17 .295 .930 

Russell Martin
April  3 13 .197 .777
May 4 11 .327 .903

Edwin Encarnacion
April 4 10 .205 .610 
May 8 22 .225 .843 

Jose Reyes
April 0 7 .250 .566
May 0 3 .345 .828 

Ezequiel Carrera
April Triple-A Buffalo
May 0 10 .302 .722 

Aaron Sanchez

April 4 1-2 19.2 5.03
May 6 3-2 38.1 3.29 

Drew Hutchison
April 5 2-0 27.0 6.67 
May 6 2-1 36.1 4.21

Mark Buehrle 
April 4 3-1 23.2 4.94
May 6 3-3 39.2 4.99

Team Stats

April .248 (5th)
May .274 (1st)

Runs score
April 122 (1st)
May 148 (2nd)

Home runs
April 28 (4th)
May 33 (5th)

Team ERA

April 4.78 (14th)
May 4.43 (15th)

After two months
Starters ERA 4.93 (14th)
Bullpen ERA 3.87 (13th)
Save 6 (15th)
Strikeouts 150 (5th)