Toronto Blue Jays Need to Turn Around August Struggles in Order to Contend

Mohammad ArshadCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2014

Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista looks down after striking out against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays have struggled lately, going 5-12 during the month of August. As a result, Toronto (65-62) has now fallen nine games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top spot in the American League East. The team is also trailing the Detroit Tigers by 4.5 games for the second wild-card spot in the AL.

Just how bad has Toronto been this month? Entering play on August 21, the Blue Jays ranked last in the AL in runs scored with just 56 runs scored during their 17 games played in August. That averages out to roughly just 3.3 runs a game.

The pitching hasn’t been much better during that span. Toronto’s pitching staff has posted a combined ERA of 4.99 this month, placing the team 13th in the AL in that category.

With just 35 regular-season games left and time quickly running out, the Blue Jays need to make a huge run soon in order to get back into the race. Although it’s still possible, winning the division is looking unlikely at this point. Therefore, focusing on that second wild-card spot appears to be Toronto’s best bet.

That plan also isn’t as easy as it sounds though, as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners are all within five games or fewer of that second wild-card spot as well.

All of that aside, it’s obvious the Blue Jays need to overcome their August struggles and have a much better showing during their final three series (nine games) of the month, all of which they will play at home against fellow AL East rivals. Let’s take a closer look at each of these three upcoming series.

Starting Friday, the Blue Jays will play a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays (61-65) have had a tough season and recently traded away their ace, David Price, at the trade deadline. While they’re still a good team, Toronto needs to take advantage here.

Following the series against Tampa Bay, the Boston Red Sox (56-70) will visit the Rogers Centre for three games. Boston has struggled badly this season and already has a 3-10 season record against the Blue Jays. Toronto will need to continue that dominance.

Finally, the Blue Jays will wrap up the month with a three-game series against the Yankees (63-61). Considering that the Yankees are neck and neck with Toronto in the race for the second wild-card spot, this series will have huge implications for both teams.

For the Blue Jays to have any chance to contend this season, turning around their August struggles and performing well during the final nine games of the month is absolutely crucial at this point. In fact, it’s probably fair to say this next stretch could make or break Toronto’s entire season.


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