The Second Half Forecast for the Toronto Blue Jays

Jeffrey RobertsCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 04: Adam Lind #26 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a two run home run in the sixth inning against the New York Yankees on July 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays invite the Boston Red Sox in for tea and baseball tonight, and so begins the final stretch of the season.

I've broken out the Doppler sportscasting equipment in order to try and predict Toronto's baseball forecast for the next 72 games (does anyone have one of those DOROTHY's from Twister?).

It's everything the Weather Channel should aspire to, baseball and meteorology: Together at last! Actually that makes a lot of sense...



-Ricky Romero starts tonight, continuing his pitch for AL Rookie of the Year. The smooth lefty is 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 games. Romero has brightened up every fifth day for Jays fans by throwing 11 quality starts as well.

Somebody get that man a trophy, or at least some sunscreen, because he's burning up. Anymore weather puns? No? Good, moving on then.

-For those of you who didn't Lind Your Vote for All-Star, for shame. Adam Lind's platform of 19 home runs and 59 RBI may not have done much for the health-care system, but it will easily get him re-elected as the DH in Toronto.

In his first full season at the major league level, Lind has shown he will be a lineup mainstay for years to come. Look for Lind to continue his success, especially now that he and Aaron Hill are being paired together in the batting order.

-If you would have watched some of Toronto's games this season, you would have thought it was Aaron Hill vs. The Other Team. Hill has carried the Jays offence at times, and when he's not hitting the team noticeably suffers. In Jays' wins, Hill is hitting .318 with 42 RBI. When Toronto loses, it's because Hill's batting only .265. 

After dealing with a concussion that sidelined him last entire season, no one deserves this success more than Aaron Hill. Him and Lind at two and three in the Jays' lineup is a potent combination. Expect big things and scorching play from Hill. 

-Marco Scutaro has done everything the Jays have asked of him, and then some. Not only has he made the leadoff spot his own, but his play at shortstop has been a revelation to the Jays and other teams around the league.

Scutaro's in a contract year, surprisingly enough, but as long as he's leading off for Toronto, we're happy to have him. He's been on base 161 times, more than anyone else in the American League with 64 runs scored. If Scutaro keeps this up, the Jays are going to have to look long and hard at re-signing a player who's been crucial to their successes.


Partially Cloudy

-Scott Rolen was busting out one of the greatest hit streaks in Toronto Blue Jay history, at 25 games and counting. Then he was sat during an afternoon game in Tampa. Why didn't the other team just line up behind him and scream, "JINX!" during his swings instead. It would have had the same effect.

I'm aware that Rolen had other days off during the streak, but come on. He was so close to breaking the Jays all-time streak of 28 by Shawn Green. Since being sat in Tampa, Rolen's batting average has dropped 10 points to .320. That's still great, but it's not a trend fans want to see continue.

-Normally Roy Halladay would be the brightest light for the Jays, but trade talks have begun to cloud the Doc. During the All-Star break Halladay was speaking like a man who's already been traded, preparing Toronto for the seemingly inevitable.

Still, while Doc is pitching for Toronto you can expect some excellent performances. Mostly because scouts are watching.

In second halves, Roy Halladay has seen his ERA shrink from 3.61 to a lifetime 3.28. It's uncanny, the man never tires. Let's hope the trade rumors blow over and Halladay comes out throwing darts.



-Lyle Overbay has been slogging through the mist all season. Platooning first base with Kevin Millar has met with mixed results from Loverbay. From winning Player of the Week back in June, Overbay has struggled to his current .250 batting average.

Even more ominous is that his batting average has dropped from .284 to .271 from first to second half in his career. When Overbay is hot, the Jays are that much better for having another great lefty besides Lind to counter right-handed pitching.

They need Lyle "The Human Doubles Machine" Overbay, to get back to the gap-to-gap hitter he once was, and soon.


Cloudy, Chance of Rain

-Vernon Wells and Alex Rios have been the unquestionable disappointments of the first half. They've effectively played themselves out of elite company and their contracts are smothering the Jays' payroll. Both could play themselves back into Jays' fans favor, but anything less than a great second half could bring down the showers.

Wells is a good second half hitter, averaging .284 in the latter part of the season during his career; compared to a .280 career first half average. Rios' has a .283 second half average, falling four points from a first half .287. Like most things with the Blue Jays, it's looking like a crapshoot.

-The Toronto Blue Jays bullpen is walking a thin line between sufficient and disastrous. After a sparkling 2008, this 'pen is facing some serious struggles. Scott Downs has finally recovered from his insane at-bat in Philadelphia and things are starting to look up. That still won't stop me from swaying with every pitch as the Jays try to squeak out a win.

The Jays bullpen has posted a 3.99 ERA with a 10-17 record so far. Last year a pen composed of mostly the same players ended up finishing with a 2.92 ERA (how will they do it without BJ Ryan? HOW?). Fingers crossed.



-Being two games below .500 doesn't merit playoff consideration. That means the Jays are looking at another October of trick or treating instead of baseball. But if lightning strikes...

The Jays are eight games out in the Wild Card. Call me a dreamer but that's not insurmountable. Toronto has 11 games left against the Wild Card-leading New York Yankees and plenty of chances to put together a run. They're getting healthier and have been known to have a good second half.

Last September, they bumbled into some must-win baseball that had me living and dying with every pitch. It was beautiful, and I want to feel that way again.

This season isn't over, as much as some people might want it to be. It's baseball, a seeing-eye single here, and a called strike there could be the difference between the Jays now, and a team with a serious shot in two months.

Or they could suck. That'd be a stretch.

No more weather puns, get out of here.

Okay one more: You could say the Jays are entering a High-Pressure system! That is all.  


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