A few days ago, I wondered if a boost in confidence could be enough to propel the Blue Jays into the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Well after 11 games have passed since the club made its first move, it would appear that indeed there has been an injection of swagger that has been desperately needed. In all honesty, before the trade with Colorado happened, the Blue Jays were clinging to playoff hopes by a thin thread.
They were 50-50 on July 27. They sat 7 games out of the division leading Yankees and 3 out of the Wild Card. That slipped to 8 back the day after the trade. Now, after going 9-2, they are in the 2nd Wild Card spot and have shrunk the deficit in the AL East to just 3.5 games. They played the AL’s best team, the Royals so well and could have swept the 4 game set. They did sweep the Twins to take over the Wild Card spot. Then, they won the first game against the Yankees. They still have 5 more in their next 8 games against the Bronx Bombers.
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If anything is apparent, it is the confidence with which this team is playing. There isn’t exactly a stat that measures, it but you can see it in the way they carry themselves. They believe. And, it is showing in their performances. Take the following tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney.
That’s right. 4.5 games have been made up in just 11 games. Since Troy Tulowitzki joined the club, they’ve been on a roll. That is not to put all the credit at his feet. In fact, there have been some really bug performances of late. Let’s take a look.
Toronto Blue Jays
Over the last 10 games, Jose Bautista is hitting .286/.311/.619. He has 4 HR and 11 RBI with 26 total bases. He’s scored 8 runs. Josh Donaldson is hitting .375/.479/.950 with 6 HR and 14 RBI for 38 total bases and 10 runs. Troy Tulowitzki made his presence known in his first game with a HR and 2 doubles. In total, he’s hitting .270/.386/.486 with 2 HR and 3 RBI for 18 total bases and 11 runs. All of this from the leadoff spot. What does that say about your lineup when Troy Tulowitzki is hitting lead off? Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .405/.500/.703. He has 2 HR, 8 RBI and 26 total bases wit 7 walks. Could he be heating up at the right time? We all know how streaky he is. If this is when he gets hot, this offense will transform into ridiculous.
This confidence can be seen as far down as Ryan Goins. In my previous piece there is the notion that the performance of others can run off on a player in a “If he can do it, so can I” kind of way. The infielder is filling for the injured Devon Travis quite nicely. Over the last 10 games, Goins is hitting .290/.436/.419. He’s tallied 9 hits, 8 walks and scored 8 runs.How’s that for a confidence boost. It could be argued that that the swagger this team possesses is helping Goins flourish. Some will say that perhaps, it is just a hot streak for the light hitter. And, there could be truth to it. But, the team confidence aspect cannot be ignored.
It’s even impacting the pitching. In August, the Blue Jays hold the 2nd best ERA in all of baseball at 2.39 behind St Louis. They are holding batters to an impressive .183 average with a 0.84 WHIP. How about this: David Price, R.A. Dickey and Marco Estrada have ERAs all under 1.50 in August. Each hurler has only given up one earned run in their start. Dickey seems to have turned his season around. Or, more accurately, his team is helping him out. He’s in a long stretch of game where he is dominating and he’s getting run support.
In two starts in August, Mark Buehrle has not been as lights out as the others above, but he’s kept his team in games averaging 3 earned runs per start. 3 runs is certainly enough with this offense. While Drew Hutchison remains very much a question mark, if you’re looking ahead to a 3 game series, the Blue Jays are not in as bad a shape as we might have thought.
Perhaps the bets performance of the last 14 days would be that of GM, Alex Anthopoulos. By being bold and “going for it” he has sent a message to his team. And, they’ve received it loud and clear. They’re performing at a high level thanks to the boost in confidence that comes from your boss going all out for you. The players have to step up now. And, they are. This is resulting in exciting baseball and a confidence that is helping them climb the standings. Their confidence is at an all time high. Time will tell just where that takes them.
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