By Rob Ficiur
Friday June 12, I said to myself “I have time to watch the Blue Jays game tonight. They are on an eight game winning streak.” I checked the sports app on my phone and changed my mind. I grumbled to myself, “Those guys are losing 8-1 in the third inning. I have better things to do than watch a team lose.” When my tasks were done for the evening I turned on the TV “for just a minute.” “What?” I exclaimed to myself “The Blue Jays are now down only 8-6.” After a brief time pondering the situation I told myself “Maybe I do have time to watch this game.” When the first nine Blue Jay batters in the seventh inning got on base, I got comfortable and watched the Toronto Blue Jays go on to win their ninth game in a row.
What is the winning formula for the now ten – no another update eleven wins in a row Toronto Blue Jays? Why am I constantly talking to myself when it comes to this year’s Blue Jays?
Winning Formula –
The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays are the best offensive team in Major League baseball. They have scored 325 runs, fifty (20%) more than the second place New York Yankees. The median number of runs scored (meaning half the teams are above and half the teams are below) is 249. The Jays are 75 runs ahead of the average. At their current pace the Blue Jays would score 835 runs. In 2014 the most runs scored (California Angels) was 773. From 2010 – 2014 only five teams scored more runs than the 835 the Jays are on pace for.
Talking to Myself –
Yes, I say to myself, that is good but what if injuries hit the team like they did last year? In 2014 the Jays were in first place from May 21 until July 2. On July 5 the injury bug hit hard taking out slugger Edwin Encarnacion for the better part of two months. With EE out teams could work around slugger Jose Bautista. What if a key injury strikes again this year?”
Reality check – injuries have already weakened the 2015 Jays since Day 1. Before the season started pitcher Marcus Stroman was lost for the season; and left fielder Michael Sanders was out for three months (so it has turned out). Since opening day injuries have put out their starting short stop, second baseman and right fielder and designated hitter. Counting Saunders that means five of the nine position players have been on long term injuries at parts of the season.
On April 22 the Blue Jays were 7-7 when Jose Bautista hurt his arm. Because he could not throw the team moved Jose to designated hitter, which meant placing Edwin Encarnacion at first base instead of designated hitter. The team filled in with right fielders that were not as good defensively. By the time Jose Bautista played right field again on June 2 the team’s record was 23-29. They went 16-22 with a substitute right fielder. Since Jose returned to right field the team’s record has been 17-8. Injuries can devastate any team, the Jays are winning in spite of injuries.
Winning Formula –
Because of the injuries the Jays had to bring in players they had not expected. Two minor league players brought in to fill in the gaps in outfield have added efficient depth. Twenty eight year old Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera looked like a career minor leaguer when the Jays signed him in the off season. He played 45 games with Detroit in 2014 and 68 and 48 games for Cleveland in 2011 and 2012. Nothing made him look like a break out player. Ezequiel has a solid .284 batting average with 19 stolen bases.
The biggest outfield addition came from 31 year old minor league infielder Chris Colabello. In his second game with the Jays he had four hits in four at bats, so they kept him around. The converted first baseman quietly went on a 18 game hitting streak which kept him in the line-up. His .336 batting average has more than made up for his imperfect out-fielding.
Talking to Myself –
“They need better starting pitching for this to continue,” I argue with myself.
As of this minute the Blue Jays starting pitchers have a record of 19 wins 13 losses. In the last 11 games they have averaged 7.5 innings pitched. Only once in the last eleven games has the starter not finished the fifth inning. During the winnings streak the starters’ earned run average is 3.74. “Maybe these starters aren’t so bad,” I counter argue to myself.
There are still questions about the team’s closing pitcher, their starting pitcher depth and more. This column can has to fit on the page – so for more information keep watching the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays maybe this summer they won’t break Canadian baseball fans’ hearts. Maybe I will stop talking to (or worse arguing with) myself.