Munenori Kawasaki celebrating a victory, which the Jays will need many more of to make the playoffs. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
If someone would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that on May 31 the Jays would have a 23-31 record and be 9 games out of the division lead after getting spanked 11-3 by the Braves and I would be feeling optimistic about the team, I would have told that person that they need to lay off what Heisenberg was selling them. Yet here we are on the last day of May with the club having the chance to finish the month at .500 and I actually feel that they might be on the verge of making a run at not only fourth place in the AL East but the fantastical places beyond that as well.
The Jays “rebounded,” if you will, from a 10-17 April to be on the verge of .500 pending a win against the San Diego Padres tonight. However, using the arbitrary end points of the fifth calendar month don’t tell the whole story of the teams performance as of late. The team started off the month 3-7 leaving them at 13-24 on May 10. That means they have been playing nearly .600 baseball for the last 17 games. Now keeping that pace and elevating the winning percentage to where it needs to be may seem like a tall order for a team that struggled so mightily out of the gate. However, it might not be as tough as one might think for the 2013 Jays.
While the Jay’s recent improved play hasn’t been so monumental to completely rekindle playoff hopes the manner in which they’ve begun to turn it around has been. The Jays have been without key off-season acquisitions Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson for the entire month, they’ve also been without J.A. Happ since May 7 and had Brandon Morrow on the shelf for 13 days between starts earlier in the month.
Not only did the jays have a slew of injuries on their plate to deal with but also some epic underachieving on the part of some players. One of the key suspects in this regard has been our own fully dimed, Canadian wunderkind Brett Lawrie. Clashes with teammates and umpires aside, it has been his lack of confrontation with off speed pitches that is really hurting Lawrie so far this year. The book is out on Lawrie as evidenced by a GIF over at GAMEREAX where Lawrie sees five straight sliders from Hiroki Kuroda. Lawrie is hitting only .209 with a paltry .642 OPS. I don’t mean to focus in so much on Lawrie when trying to take more of a broad view of the club, however with his recent trip to the DL Mark DeRosa or whoever will end up seeing the lions share of the time at third base will likely be an upgrade over what Lawrie had been providing so far this season.
The return of shortstop Jose Reyes could help spark a run towards the postseason. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
So if the Jays were able to start turning things around under the circumstances they’ve faced throughout the month of May, I feel very optimistic about their chances moving forward. Provided the Jays can take advantage of the soft underbelly of the schedule going up against several NL West teams giving them a chance to make up some ground against their division. The team also has Johnson and Reyes returning soon, and is hoping Johnson is a better pitcher than his body of work before going down with injury would lead us to believe.
Obviously I may be overly optimistic in thinking that over the remaining 108 games the team could go 72-38 to get to the 95 wins usually required to earn a playoff berth, I refuse to let my hopes for the baseball season be dead before the beginning of June. So although it may be a long shot I have to indulge my inner Lloyd Christmas and cling to the idea that “you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
Hopefully the team will beat up on the Padres and Giants so that my dream can live for at least one week and I don’t just have to watch the games hoping for Munenori Kawasaki post game interviews while channeling my inner Jim Mora.