The Toronto Blue Jays failed to take advantage of their “soft” schedule over the past few weeks going back to their west coast road trip at the Oakland Athletics. The Jays went 8-10 over that stretch but were bailed out by a 2-8 stretch by the New York Yankees in which the Blue Jays actually gained a game in the standings.
Now begins the tough part of their schedule. The next 4 series will tell us all we need to know about the 2017 Blue Jays.
The Jays next 4 series go as follows:
- June 27th-29th – vs. Baltimore Orioles
- June 30th-July 2nd – vs. Boston Red Sox
- July 3rd-5th – at New York Yankees
- July 6th-9th – vs. Houston Astros
The Baltimore Orioles are a struggling ball club from the pitching side of things. They went through a stretch of ball games where they allowed 5 runs or more in 20 straight games. They cannot pitch at all, but they can still hit. However, whenever the Orioles seem to play the Blue Jays, the starting rotation for Baltimore seems to pitch well, as evidenced by how Kevin Gausman has thrown against the Blue Jays this season.
On Canada day weekend, the Red Sox come to town. Chris Sale is expected to start on Canada day opposite Francisco Liriano. The Jays go to New York for 3 games over the 4 of July and then come back home for a tough 4 game series against the Houston Astros, the best team in the American League.
13 tough games before the all-star break. The reason this stretch will tell us all we need to know about the 2017 Jays is that the record they come out of this stretch with will likely determine the direction G.M. Ross Atkins and CEO Mark Shapiro want to take the 2017 Blue Jays. Will they add? Will they sell? Will they be a bit of both? It’s impossible to tell at this point, but the Blue Jays have been playing some mediocre baseball over the past few weeks.
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They had their chance over the past 18 games to take advantage of the schedule and finally pull ahead of .500. However, they did not take advantage and sit 3 games below .500 going into this crucial stage. Amazingly, they’re only 5.0 games back of the division. Anything less than a 7-6 record which would have them at 2 games under .500 going into the all-star break would be a disappointment.
The Blue Jays next homestand will determine a lot for this club. If they go into the all-star break within a game or two of .500 or potentially above with a really successful homestand, they will add. If they lose more ground in the standings, the Jays may look towards a bit of a retool or partial rebuild. There will not be a full rebuild, but a partial one is possible if this team falters badly over the next 13 games.
If the Jays play well enough, gain some ground in the standings and are within a few games of .500 or at .500, one would imagine the Blue Jays looking at upgrades in left field, 2nd base, and potentially the rotation. It will be an interesting next few weeks, but this stretch is the key for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017.