Why Blue Jays fans should already be concerned (sort of...)
By: Tyler King
Canadian Baseball Network
I don’t want to patronize you with another “it’s a long season” spiel.
But, hey... it’s a long season!
There’s no need to push the panic button on the Blue Jays just yet. But that doesn’t mean that the warning lights aren’t flashing and the “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” glass hasn’t been shattered.
I know the Blue Jays have only played 13 games thus far, but I’ve seen seasons spiral out of control faster than you can say “April 2013.”
Here’s a not-so-friendly reminder: the Jays went 10-17 to start the 2013 season and fell 9.5 games back of the division before the month was up.
The Jays are currently one game below .500 with six wins and seven losses (a mere 1.5 games back of the division), hardly a cause for concern this early.
But it’s not the record that is worrisome. Rather, it’s the glaring on-field issues that are keeping me up at night.
First off, there’s Russell Martin’s batting average (.143)... and Jose Bautista’s (also .143)... and Edwin Encarnacion’s (.200)...
Obviously, those unholy numbers are going to even out over the course of the season. They are just too talented and have been around the league too long. The question is WHEN will those guys turn it around, and will it be too late?
To be fair, Bautista is still getting his walks and home runs, Encarnacion has been pretty good at first base, and Martin has been finding other ways to contribute. The Canadian backstop has thrown out seven base stealers already, which is tops in the MLB. His caught stealing percentage of .438 puts him fifth among all catchers.
Perhaps we could forgive some of their early season woes.
Less forgivable are the seven double plays the Blue Jays grounded into over the weekend. Seven... in two days. That’s honestly hard to do. If we keep that rate up I’m going to personally flood the entire ‘dome with WD-40. Maybe then we’ll start finding some holes.
Although it’s easy to rag on this highly-touted offense, the Blue Jays have scored more runs (70) than any other team. Is it just me or is that stat a little surprising given the current status of things?
It certainly doesn’t help that we’re near the bottom of the league in quality starts (deemed to be when a pitcher goes at least six innings, giving up three runs or less). Call it a learning curve for the young arms in the rotation, but it’s hard to believe R.A. Dickey is the only Blue Jays pitcher to have lasted seven innings.
Then, of course, there are also the injuries...
With Sunday’s first inning injury to Devon Travis and the giant question mark that is Jose Reyes’ health, our middle infield currently has a bigger hole in it than a David Ortiz shift.
To make matters worse, Devon Travis has arguably been the Blue Jays’ best hitter.
Wait. What? (Yes, you read that right)
Travis’ three home runs ties him with sluggers Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson for the team lead. I even double-checked MLB.com to make sure that this wasn’t some sort of mistake. (It wasn’t).
While I was at it, I also made sure that this was the same 5’9” 190 pound Devon Travis who hit just 10 home runs in the Minor Leagues last season; the very same rookie who currently leads all Blue Jays (with more than 10 at-bats) in doubles (4), RBIs (12) and batting average (.356). He was actually third in the MLB in RBIs before he went down after being hit by a wild pitch.
Apparently Travis’ injury isn’t too serious, but with the Blue Jays’ luck in that department nothing should come as surprising.
Despite these glaring issues, if the Jays get it going in the upcoming series against Baltimore this little 2-and-5 stretch will be forgotten in no time. That’s the beauty of a 162 game schedule.
And even with the losing record it’s hard to say the past week was a complete disaster. There were some moments that served as reminders as to what this team is capable of.
For instance, not even the concrete roof of the Rogers Centre could shelter us from some serious Josh Donaldson THUNDER.
Donaldson, fittingly known on twitter as @bringerofrain20, lived up to his name launching three dingers in two games. He hit two homers on Friday and then followed it up with the season-saving (just kidding... but not really...) walk-off job in extra innings on Saturday.
Forget the bobbleheads - if Donaldson keeps swinging the bat like this the Blue Jays will have to start giving away umbrellas.
Then there was that absolutely ridiculous catch made by Kevin Pillar on Wednesday night that robbed Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Tim Beckham of a home run.
After witnessing that play live, I remained standing in a state of shock for nearly two innings. It took an annoyed fan whipping a handful of popcorn at my head for me to to finally snap out of it (jokes on him, a bag of popcorn at the ‘dome is like ten bucks so he was basically throwing away gold).
I heard that Pillar personally helped patch-up the hole his cleat made when he dug into the wall to make that play. I wonder who’s going to fix the internet because I’m pretty sure he broke that too - by the time I got home the highlight had blown-up on social media, with many people (non-Jays fans included) already crowning it the catch of the year.
Let’s just say manager John Gibbons is going to have a tough time figuring out what to do when outfielder Michael Saunders rejoins the club.
You have to keep Pillar in the lineup, don’t you?
Saunders likely lacks the range to play centre field, especially now that he elected to REMOVE HIS MENISCUS TENDON instead of repairing it (apparently you can do that).
And I have absolutely no idea if Pillar is capable of playing centre, but maybe that’s an option with Dalton Pompey struggling...
If Pillar keeps scaling ten-foot walls like he’s reenacting a scene from “Angels in the Outfield”, what choice do you really have?
Follow Section 108 on twitter: @tylerjoseph108