Four Things the Toronto Blue Jays Need To Do to Stay Alive in the AL East

Matt EichelSenior Writer IAugust 13, 2008

A few games over .500, combined with a few wins in a row, and the Toronto Blue Jays may have something going in mid-August.

Or is that just me getting my hopes up that the Jays are for real?

So what's it going to take Mr. Blue Jay?

First off, it's going to take consistency. With two-straight wins over the struggling Detroit Tigers, the Jays have found a bit of that consistency they need to keep going down the stretch.

Being just above .500 in their last 10, the Jays look good and need to improve on winning individual series to be a serious contender in the last few months of the season.

Secondly, the Jays need to win on the road. At 27-33 on the road, the Jays are not the toast of the MLB, let alone the AL, when it comes to playing away from Rogers Centre. Then again, neither are any of their AL East counterparts.

The New York Yankees hold the best AL East road record at 28-30. Still, with a 34-26 record at the Rogers Centre, the Jays know that solid play on American soil is what they need to make up those games between them and the powerful Tampa Rays.

Thirdly, the Jays need to have starters that can work late into a game. We know that most nights Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, and Shawn Marcum can work five to seven innings and keep the opponents bats somewhat silent for the most part.

But injuries to starter Dustin McGowan for the rest of the season and the earlier demotion of Jesse Litsch have opened spots for younger, most inexperienced pitchers, such as David Purcey or Scott Richmond. With Litsch back in the rotation, the Jays need him to start being consistent as well.

If the Jays cannot get five straight starters that can go deep, the bullpen is fully capable, but a team cannot rely on their bullpen each and every night to bail the starters out.

And finally, the Jays need to get healthy and start producing. With only two players with 10 or more home runs (Matt Stairs—11, Rod Barajas—10), the Jays need more power in their lineup to start producing, such as Vernon Wells and Alex Rios.

Rios' 50 RBI through 120 games is not good at all, especially when compared with his 82 and 85 RBI seasons in both 2006 and 2007. With Wells finally back from injury, the Jays have a shot at starting to produce more offense and more power.

If they can do this, they would finally bail out their pitching, which has kept them in more games than many realize. With a 15-win A.J. Burnett and a 13-win Roy Halladay disgruntled about a lack of winning, the Jays might want to consider winning more than losing if they want to keep the big two in Toronto.