Blue Jays: Series loss spells serious trouble for 2017

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: Josh Donaldson
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: Josh Donaldson /

The Blue Jays had a chance to make up some serious ground in the AL East, starting with a three game set with the Orioles. Now that they’ve dropped two of three, how deep is the hole they’ve dug themselves?

On Tuesday, the Blue Jays began play with a record of 36-39, and were set to face off against AL East opponents in the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox over the course of the next nine games. A crucial stretch if there ever was one.

Unfortunately, the club was inexplicably held at bay by the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Gausman. The latter has talent, but both have had dreadful seasons in 2017. No matter against the Blue Jays this week though, and they needed an outstanding start from Marcus Stroman in the second game of the series in order to earn their lone win.

They were just a game back of the Orioles, and with a series win would have been at least tied with Baltimore, pulling themselves out of sole possession of last place. Now it feels like the Blue Jays are becoming entrenched in the position.

For the pundits who talk about how the Blue Jays of 2015 and 2016 struggled, only to catch fire later, that argument will work until August for some folks. However, it’s worth looking at how they were doing after 78 games in previous playoff seasons, if we’re going to consider that sort of thing.

2015- After 78 and 79 games

2016- After 78 and 79 games

And then, here’s how things are looking this year:

The table is incomplete as you can see, but it should read 37-41, and the Jays now sit 6.5 games back in the AL East, still in last place. They’re now two games behind the Orioles, who sit in 4th place, and 4.5 games behind.

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Taking a look at the 2015-2016 seasons, both of those teams were 4 games above .500 at this point in the season, a mark the 2017 has yet to reach. The 2015 team went on to get as far behind as 8.0 games back on July 28th, which is what the eternal optimists will point to, but at some point even the hopes of those people begin to break down.

I might be one of those people. I’m not willing to throw the towel in on the season just yet, but this series loss to the Orioles was a big one. It also puts some tremendous pressure on the next six games against the Red Sox and Yankees, and added urgency against arguably baseball’s best team in the Houston Astros, who the Jays play for four games to close out the first half.

At 37-41, the Jays still have 84 games remaining, or 52% of their schedule left to play. There is still time to go on a run, but sitting in last in the AL East, and 3.5 back of a Wild Card spot, they need to start making a move. As it is, they have seven teams to leapfrog in the Wild Card standings, so the task ahead is pretty daunting.

The other problem, of course, is the Blue Jays could choose to become sellers at the trade deadline they can’t get closer to striking distance, and at this rate that’s becoming a more realistic scenario all the time.

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With 10 games to play before the All-Star break, the Blue Jays need to finish above .500 in this next set, or Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins could be very busy fellas at the All-Star break, and for all the wrong reasons.