Month Of May Keeps Blue Jays In Playoff Hunt…Barely
Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY SportsThe Blue Jays haven’t had the easiest of starts to the season. The starting rotation has been brutal at best, the team has played 44 games against teams with a .500 record or above (most in the majors), they’ve played 32 games against AL East opponents (including a span of 23 of 27 games) and players Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie, Josh Johnson, Darren Oliver and J.A. Happ have all been placed, and are currently on, the disabled list. However, there is good news. Ever since starting the season 10-21, the Blue Jays have been on a 13-11 streak, which could have been even better if they even split on their 4 1-run losses during that stretch. In addition, the team has gone 13-15 in May overall. Let’s take a look at just what aspects the Blue Jays have done well (and terrible) in.
Top 5 League Bests (May)
-2nd best in batting LD% (24.2%)
-3rd best in swinging strike % (8.0%)
-4th best in reliever K/BB rate (3.03)
-5th best in runs scored (140)
-5th best in SLG (.437)
-5th best in reliever BB/9 (2.62)
-5th best in reliever BB% (6.9%)
Top 5 League Worsts (May)
-League worst in starter BB/9 (4.04)
-2nd worst in starter FIP (5.30)
-2nd worst in starter xFIP (4.91)
-2nd worst in starter xFIP- (120)
-2nd worst in starter K/BB rate (1.45)
-2nd worst in starter SIERA (4.96)
-2nd worst in reliever HR/9 (1.49)
-3rd worst in starter K/9 (5.87)
-3rd worst in starter ERA (5.74)
-4th worst in starter fWAR (0.1)
-4th worst in starter BAA (.282)
-4th worst in starter WHIP (1.57)
-4th worst in starter ERA- (137)
-4th worst in starter FIP- (128)
-4th worst in starter tERA (5.86)
-5th worst in reliever HR/FB% (14.0)
-5th worst in reliever FIP (4.47)
(All stats provided by fangraphs.com)
As you can see, the list of positives is not so heavily outweighed by the negatives as it was during April. In fact, the Blue Jays were in a lot more top 5 bests in baseball offensively before yesterday’s 17 inning game against the Padres. At the same time, the Blue Jays didn’t have 4 teams with at least 5 games above .500 ahead of them in the standings, as the Rays have improved dramatically in May.
The most notable turnarounds for the Blue Jays, without a doubt, are Jose Bautista and Adam Lind. While Bautista did show some power for the Blue Jays in April, the batting average was near the Mendoza level. On the opposite end, Lind was an on base machine but had little power. Both players ended May batting with about a 1.000 OPS, a wOBA above .400 and a wRC+ north of 150. They, combined with Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion, have provided most of the offense at the top 4 positions in the lineup. The offense for the Blue Jays have definitely turned it around to get out of their early slump.
The biggest disappointment for the Blue Jays has been the starting rotation as a whole. While the bullpen has not been so hot, its because they’ve been relied upon so often. In fact, their 22 decisions all season are tied with the Reds for the most in baseball, and their 114.2 innings in May is most in the majors as well. The Blue Jays starters threw the fewest innings out of any team in May, a large part due to using emergency starters like Esmil Rogers, Chad Jenkins, Sean Nolin and Ramon Ortiz. Additional starter injuries to Josh Johnson and recently-put-on-the-15-day-DL Brandon Morrow have not made things any easier. Worse yet, Ricky Romero only pitched 4.1 innings over 2 starts, and is in career jeopardy as he has just been outrighted off the 40-man roster . Factor in the fact that our supposed staff ace R.A. Dickey has a 5.82 ERA in May and you have a very disappointing rotation.
It’s looking less and less of a possibility that the Blue Jays will make the post season. The Blue Jays’ play during May has kept them from falling out of the hunt altogether, but the team is on pace for 90 losses through a third of the regular season, are 12-20 against teams in their own division and only 5-5 against sub-.500 teams. Does this mean that Alex Anthopoulos is going to blow up the team and scrap it for parts? Will EE and Bautista be shipped by the trade deadline like some people who troll about this kind of stuff? Will J.P. Arencibia walk more than twice in a month? We’re just going to have to wait and see, but the outlook is not so good.