Toronto Blue Jays: 4 Players Who Must Step Up to Keep Their Playoff Hopes Alive
The Toronto Blue Jays have had a rough 2011 season. Three of their opening day starting position players are on the DL and another one is not with the team anymore. Their pitching staff has also been depleted by injuries.
Despite this, the team has still been able to be competitive. They sit two games under .500 at 53-55 and are just five games back of the second wild card spot.
At this point in the year, not many people are expecting the Jays to make much of a leap in the standings. However, in the back of every diehard fan's mind is the hope that they can pull off a miracle run.
With the way they are playing, the playoffs definitely seem like a long shot. Here are four players who need to step up if the Toronto Blue Jays want to be playing October baseball.
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J.A. Happ will get his first start as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays against Tampa Bay. Since coming over from Houston, Happ has been used out of the bullpen, making four appearances and pitching seven innings.
Henderson Alvarez has had a couple of quality starts in a row now and Carlos Villanueva has been great. If Happ can get going, Toronto will have a pretty good pitching staff down the stretch.
The 29-year-old has struggled a bit over the past two seasons, but he has an opportunity to return to his 2010 form as a Blue Jays starter.
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The past few games have been interesting for the Blue Jays outfield. Jose Bautista has been on the disabled list and Colby Rasmus has been nursing an injured groin. This left two rookies in Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra as the starters.
While Rasmus is expected to return against the Rays, Joey Bats recovery is not going too well. In his absence, Rajai Davis will have to continue to over perform.
The 31-year-old is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak with a .310 batting average and five stolen bases over that time span.
If he can keep this up, it will make Bautista’s absence hurt a lot less.
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In 23 starts, Romero has a record of 8-8, but his ERA and WHIP numbers make John Farrell cringe at 5.47 and 1.54, respectively.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Romero was pulled after 1.1 innings. He allowed eight runs and walked six batters in that outing.
Since then, the 27-year-old has rebounded fairly well. He has pitched 13 innings over his past two starts, allowing only four earned runs. While his walk totals are not as low as we would like, he seems to be back on track.
Toronto needs Ricky Romero to return to his old self if they want to even come close to the playoffs.
Around this time last year, the Blue Jays gave up Aaron Hill and John McDonald to acquire Kelly Johnson from the Arizona Diamondbacks. While it originally looked like a good move, in retrospect, it was not the best we have seen from Alex Anthopoulos.
At 30 years of age, Johnson is not exactly the youngest guy on the team. He is hitting only .233 and while he does have 12 home runs, nine of them came in April and May.
Considering that he is a veteran that is one of the higher paid players on the roster, Kelly Johnson needs to play a bigger role over the next two months. If he does not step up, I don’t see him on the roster at this time next year.