Heading into the All-Star break, there was a lot of disappointment surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, the team going 2-8 in its last 10 games before the break and falling out of first place in the American League East certainly didn’t help matters.
But things are definitely not as bleak as they look.
As the season resumes on Friday, the Blue Jays (49-47) are just four games out of first place. The team is also only 2.5 games out of the second wild-card spot in the AL.
Keep in mind that on this date last year, Toronto was a whopping 11.5 games out of first place and already realistically out of contention. And while 49 wins may not sound very impressive, this is the first season since 2006 in which the Blue Jays have actually reached 49 wins before the All-Star break.
For Toronto to seriously make a run at the playoffs this season, the team will need two things that it has lacked up to this point: good health and consistency.
While every team in the majors is usually affected by injuries at some point in the season, the Blue Jays have lost several key contributors from their lineup for an extended period of time.
Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Jose Reyes and Adam Lind have all spent time on the disabled list this season. Jose Bautista has avoided the DL, but has still missed several games with injuries.
Lawrie, Encarnacion and Lind are still on the DL at the moment and are expected to be back sometime in late July or early August. Toronto will need those players in the lineup if it wants to make a run.
Injuries aside, the biggest issue plaguing the Blue Jays has been consistency. The team went 12-14 in April, turned it around by going 21-9 in May and then lost any momentum it had built by going 12-15 in June.
This inconsistency can’t continue with just 66 games remaining on the schedule. To reach 90 wins and put themselves in a position to earn a playoff spot, the Blue Jays will need to go 41-25 from here on out. That’s an attainable goal if the team plays like it did in May.
So, while the Blue Jays entered the All-Star break on a sour note, fans need to remember that there’s still a chance for the team to make this year a special one. And that’s a lot more than you can say for some of team’s previous seasons these past few years.
*All stats are from baseball-reference.com