Just 12 days ago the Toronto Blue Jays were flying high. They had beaten the Yankees on a strong performance by All-World, Roy Halladay, in their first match up with a powerhouse team in their division. They were in first place with a 23-13 record, scoring runs at a torrid pace, and some how amidst all the starting pitching they had lost over the course of the past year, getting solid outings from starters who only a die-hard baseball fan could identify. Some critics felt as if the Jays had all the ingredients to be this seasons version of the Tampa Bay Rays of 2008 and that the Jays were going to stick around in the AL East.
Well a funny thing happened on their way to June…
You probably could have seen it coming sooner than later- but suddenly after dropping their seventh in a row on Monday afternoon against the Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays appear as if they’re on a down-bound train.
Sure after that Yankees series, the Jays went on to sweep the White Sox in a four-game series- but the White Sox are not a very good team. Nor are the Atlanta Braves who swept them this weekend. And with a starting rotation that is beginning to be shuffled around on a weekly basis, and a lineup that is melting as quickly as an ice cream cone in your hand on this Memorial Day Weekend, Toronto has begun it’s fall- and it’s becoming plainly obvious this is not the ’08 Rays.
The biggest reason this is the case if because of starting pitching. One of my favorite stats of the 2008 season, is that the ’08 version of the Rays had 70% of their innings pitched, by the same pitchers as they had in 2007. In addition to that the team sured up it’s defense with the additions of Jason Bartlett, moving B.J. Upton to centerfield, moving Iwamura to 2nd base and adding the slick fielding (not to mention power hitting) of Evan Longoria. That’s not say that the Jays are defensively inadequate, but the fact that this starting rotation is 90% Halladay, and 10% everyone else is the problem. Perhaps if the team hadn’t loss the likes of Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, and Jessie Litsch, things might be different. But in the Jays’ world the fact of the matter is that 30 year-old rookie Scott Richmond is currently their second best pitcher, and there’s no magic wand that can change that.
The Jays are falling.