Toronto Blue Jays: Offensive Woes Could Jeopardize Team's Division Lead

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Toronto Blue Jays: Offensive Woes Could Jeopardize Team's Division Lead
USA TODAY Sports

While every team goes through its ups and downs at the plate over the course of a season, the Toronto Blue Jays (41-31) have reached a point where their prolonged offensive struggles have now started to cost the team winnable games.

Consider this: Toronto’s rotation has posted a 3.00 ERA over its past 15 games. That’s the second-best mark in the American League during that span.

But the bad news is the Blue Jays have gone just 8-7 over that stretch. Yes, you read that right. Toronto is barely over .500 in its last 15 games despite getting elite pitching from its rotation and bullpen.

And it looks like things are only getting worse, as the Blue Jays have lost seven of their last 10 games. While the team is still in first place, its division lead over the New York Yankees has now shrunk to just 3.5 games.

So how bad has the offense been for all of this to happen? Let’s take a look.

Toronto has scored just 48 runs during 15 games played in June, tying the team with the Tampa Bay Rays for the fewest runs scored in the AL this month. That averages down to roughly 3.2 runs scored a game, considerably lower than the 4.7 runs per game it’s averaged overall this season.

As a team, the Blue Jays are hitting .240/.306/.373 on the month. After hitting a league-leading 48 home runs in May, they’ve hit just 13 home runs in June.

While players often go through slumps over the course of a season, it’s rare to see most of the lineup struggling at once. But that’s exactly what’s been happening here.

Let’s take a look at how some of the team’s key contributors have performed in June.

After setting a club record with 16 home runs in May, Edwin Encarnacion has hit .255/.333/.471 with just two home runs and six RBI.

While Jose Bautista has maintained a .304 batting average, his power numbers (one home run and seven RBI) have dropped significantly.

Brett Lawrie has hit .236/.300/.400. Melky Cabrera has arguably been the worst hitter on the team during this stretch, posting a line of .226/.258/.355.

The rest of the supporting cast consisting of Dioner Navarro, Juan Francisco and Adam Lind has also struggled, failing to help the scuffling players at the top of the lineup.

The good news is Colby Rasmus is set to make his return Wednesday night after missing more than a month with a strained hamstring. Whether this is enough to provide a jolt to an embattled Toronto offense remains to be seen.

A few weeks ago, it looked like this lineup was good enough to compete down the stretch and fight for the playoffs. That no longer seems like such a sure thing now.

If these struggles continue for much longer, it may be time for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos to start looking around for possible upgrades as the trade deadline approaches.

 

*All stats are from MLB.com and are current as of June 18, 2014.

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