We are over one month into the regular season and things are starting to settle in. The Blue Jays finished April with a 15-9 record and led the majors in hits, runs, and RBI, while landing in a close second or third for almost every other major hitting category. Since then they have improved to 18-9 with a sweep over divisional rival Baltimore.
Here are ten reasons why Toronto is for real:
- Roy Halladay
He is arguably one of the most under rated pitchers of all time. This year he has come out flying like usual, posting a 5-1 record and an ERA around 3.70. Last year Halladay finished the season going 20-11 with a 2.78 ERA.
- Lind, Snyder, and Hill
This year the Jays haven’t had to rely on Vernon Wells and Alex Rios as much as some people might have believed because of quality at-bats by the bottom of the order. None of these three players are jokes, and they all have solid MLB futures ahead of them.
- Cito Gaston
Since taking over for John Gibbons last year, the Blue Jays had the second most wins from that date forward. This year they have the best record in baseball so far. Cito won back-to-back World Series titles here in Toronto and is a smart manager. His influence is very visible on this team.
- Tampa, Baltimore, and New York
Although the Yankees are still legitimate contenders; it appears that Tampa broke their glass slipper already. Although sometimes looking like the Tampa of old, don’t expect the Devil Rays to come out of the division. The New York Yankees have had a slow start and still seem to have a lot of holes that money can’t plug. It almost seems like they have a curse on their team now. And don't expect AJ Burnett to recreate his season last year because when it is all said and done, 2008 will be Burnett's career year. Baltimore doesn’t have enough to get past third place. The Jays have a better shot now because some teams in the AL East haven’t panned out.
- No Pressure
Toronto isn’t a high pressure market when it comes to baseball. Fans there are intense with hockey and what is happening in the city right now is good for any team. The fans are embracing the Blue Jays unlike they have in years but they are not adding pressure like the New York or Boston markets. When it gets tough on the Yankees and Red Sox the pressure will mount, but the Blue Jays won’t feel much pressure in August or September.
- Rolen, Scutaro, Overbay, and Millar
These players have had a fantastic start to the season. All four players are hard working guys who do not show they have a large attitude or problem. They compliment the youth on this team by showing a large amount of poise, leadership, and responsibility.
- Vernon Wells and Alex Rios
Very strong combination compared to any three and four hitters. If Rios continues to get into midseason form they will be two very hard outs.
- The Bull Pen
The Jays bull pen was ranked highest in the majors last year and not much has changed. BJ Ryan is returning and will add some strong depth for the end of the game.
- The Disabled List
The Blue Jays are currently sitting with an 18-9 record while missing their numbers two, three, four, and five pitchers. Some of them are coming back and some will be back late in the season, if the Blue Jays can hold on and stay in a good position the addition of some of these pitchers will make a large impact down the stretch.
This team has started off as one of the strongest teams in baseball and have not shown any signs of slowing down. Coming out with a huge start was crucial because of early injuries, andt as players return, this fast start might prove to be very important when the final games are played in September.
The Blue jays are showing signs of having young guys become day to day solid MLB players. This season has looked like everything has lined up so far, which is true, but the Blue Jays have had many seasons where nothing lined up.
We might be seeing what it is like when both your bats and arms have good seasons, and although they are missing some key pitchers, they are having guys step up. This might be the Blue Jay team that should have been on the field all last year, thanks to Cito Gaston.