The Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2012 season with high hopes.
They generated plenty of optimism after posting an MLB-best 24-7 spring record, but inconsistent play and an abundance of injuries have turned a once-promising season into a nightmare for Blue Jays’ fans.
They currently sit dead last in the AL East with a 59-71 record and are only six-and-a-half games ahead of the AL-worst Minnesota Twins. This can be attributed to a brutal month (August) that has seen them go 8-19.
With the season winding down, Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos will evaluate what he has as the Jays prepare for 2013.
Here’s a look at five players that will need to finish strong.
Yunel Escobar hasn’t been very productive in the second half of the season.
Prior to his big game against the New York Yankees on August 29 (4 for 5, three doubles, home run, five RBI), he had posted a .225 average with two homers and seven RBI in 35 games (129 at bats).
He could become expendable in the offseason with Adeiny Hechavarria already on the major league roster.
Escobar is signed through the 2013 season, and the Jays hold team options for 2014 and 2015.
Perhaps no one is in more need of a strong finish to the season than Kelly Johnson.
He got off to a terrific start as he combined to post a .256 average with nine homers and 26 RBI over the first two months of the season. He also crossed the plate 31 times and posted a good .351 OBP.
However, he's been ineffective ever since as his average and OBP have declined in each month.
June .227 average, .300 OBP
July .203 average, .294 OBP
August .167 average, 247 OBP (As of August 29)
He is set to become a free agent in 2013.
The Blue Jays have gone 8-17 with Henderson Alvarez on the mound.
For the season the young right-hander owns a 7-11 record with a 4.97 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. In 150.1 innings of work, opponents are batting .301 and have taken him deep 24 times.
He’s had a poor month of August as he’s gone 0-4 with a 7.77 ERA and 2.14 WHIP over five appearances. Opponents have also hit him at a .374 clip.
Carlos Villanueva and J.A Happ have both pitched well since joining the rotation and will push Alvarez for a spot in the Jays’ 2013 rotation.
The Jays were willing to lose Adam Lind for nothing earlier in the season when they placed him on waivers.
He’s played very well since he was recalled as he’s produced a .290 average with six homers and 18 RBI in 27 games (93 at bats).
He will likely get the bulk of playing time at first base for the remainder of the season with David Cooper on the disabled list (sore back).
He is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
Ricky Romero is certain to begin the 2013 season in the Blue Jays’ rotation, but may not finish there if his struggles carry over into next season.
A strong finish to what has been a miserable year would surely do wonders for his confidence which, at times, has appeared shaken.
He’s currently on an 11-game losing streak spanning 12 starts. If he is unable to snap his streak this season and fails to register a win in his first few starts next season, then talk of his winless streak will persist. This could place added and unnecessary pressure on his shoulders.
It is almost mandatory for him to get back into the win column before the end of the season so he can begin his 2013 campaign with a clean slate.