The Blue Jays have dropped seven of their last nine, and their losing skid comes at the worst possible time against crucial AL East opponents.
I’m starting to feel like a bit of a broken record, but that’s because the situation hasn’t just failed to improve, it’s actually gotten worse for the Blue Jays. They entered a crucial nine game stretch against the Orioles, Red Sox, and Yankees as the basement team in the AL East, but just 5.5 back of the division lead.
Now, the Jays are 8.5 games behind the division leading Red Sox, who have widened the gap in the last two days. Their record now sits at 37-43, and they’re just 1-4 in their last five games, over halfway through this stretch that many writers, myself included, called a make or break point for the club.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could rattle off a bunch of wins in the next few days (when you include their four game set with the Astros to close out the first half), but things have gone from bad to worse in a hurry. Yes, there are still 82 games remaining, but each loss this week has only reinforced the idea that this roster may not be as good as it once was.
This stretch of games was supposed to be the point where the team turned things around and showed themselves as true contenders for the AL East crown, and hopefully this time, the World Series. If this week was about showing their true colours, then things are a pretty dull shade of grey in Toronto at the moment.
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As we’ve discussed many times, the timing is especially bad because of what it could mean at the trade deadline. The Jays feature several expiring contracts including pitchers Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano, and of course the Jose Bautista deal, which is highly unlikely to be exercised, as things stand at the moment anyway.
The front office could choose to take things a step further, but that’s a whole other debate. In the immediate term, if they aren’t going to contend in 2017, they have to be asking themselves if there’s any point in hanging on to those veterans.
The list could also include Joe Smith, who has pitched far above expectations in Toronto this season. Also, 2018 represents the last year for the likes of the J.A. Happ, and the hotly debated Josh Donaldson contracts, so you can bet that rival GMs will be asking about their availability. When you have a roster with as many talented pieces as there are in Toronto, the phone will be busy throughout July.
Hopefully the team can catch fire and close our the first half on a high note, but this recent losing skid really has come at the worst possible time. Whether we want to admit it or not, Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro will be having a lot of difficult discussions in the coming weeks. Now that they’ve at 37-43 and 8.5 back in the East, those discussions are a lot different than they were 10 days ago.