Blue Jays: Who to blame for the recent struggles
The Blue Jays are mired in a slump, losing eight of their last ten, and are 6-13 in May. Some changes may be needed, but don’t point the finger at John Gibbons.
What started out as a promising season for the Blue Jays is quickly turning into daily frustration, at least lately. The Blue Jays went 15-10 in April and looked like a team that could very much be in the playoff race this summer. However, since May began the story has been totally different.
The Blue Jays were swept in a four game series with the Oakland A’s over the weekend, the latest blow to a team that’s been dealt it’s fair share of gut punches lately. Whether it’s injuries, underperformance, or even legal issues, nothing has really gone right for this team in the month of May. As a result, they’re 6-13 on the month, and 2-8 in their last 10, now sitting at three games below .500 at 22-25.
Considering how positive the vibes were around this team not even a month ago, the change has been pretty drastic in a short time. To be fair, the team has dealt with a rash of injuries recently including Marcus Stroman, Jaime Garcia, Steve Pearce, Randal Grichuk, Aledmys Diaz, Teoscar Hernandez and more. Still, they’ve had some competition that they needed to win a few games against, and just haven’t been able to get the job done.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
When things get to a low point like this, it often results in some sort of change on the roster or within the organization. We’ve seen plenty of that on the 25 man roster, as they’ve had to utilize a revolving door of arms to make up for the lack of innings from the starting rotation. Now that two of those starters are on the shelf, Joe Biagini and Sam Gaviglio have also had to step into the rotation to fill things out. Add all of those injuries on top of the poor performance from the rotation, and from hitters like Kendrys Morales, Russell Martin, Devon Travis, and plenty of others, and it’s surprising things aren’t worse. Other than a few positive performances from guys like Kevin Pillar, Teoscar Hernandez, and the bullpen, it’s been a pretty disappointing campaign thus far.
As the Blue Jays have hit this low point, there have been plenty of targets for criticism. Morales has been the daily punching bag for Blue Jays fans as his struggles have continued, but over the last couple of days I’ve started to watch the blame get spread around. Unfortunately, I’m seeing some fans start to turn on John Gibbons over the last week. While that’s understandable given the team’s struggles, it was just a few weeks ago I was writing about how he was more popular than ever among fans and writers.
Do things change that quickly in baseball? It’s hard to say, really. Gibbons has long been known for being a veteran’s manager in Toronto, but he’s also done a good job of guiding the newer players who’ve joined the team in recent years as well. Whether or not the front office has designs on keeping him through the transition to the next generation of the Blue Jays is a question that we really don’t know the answer to. Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro have sung his praises in recent months, but their long term vision could be entirely different. This recent losing streak shouldn’t affect that plan, but things can change too.
A lot will obviously depend on how things go over the next few months, but I think it’s really unfair to place this month’s failures on the skipper’s back. Sure, there have been a couple questionable decisions, but for the most part the losing has been the result of underperformance, and a roster that’s hurting pretty badly right now. As the rotation has continued it’s struggles, the offence has lost the spark that it had in April, and that doesn’t leave a lot to win ball games. The bullpen has remained strong for the most part, but they’re usually just trying to keep the deficit within reason. As far as bullpen management is concerned, I think Gibby should receive an ‘A’ rating for 2018 thus far, especially now that they’re without their All-Star closer.
At this stage I wouldn’t argue that something needs to change, but I think fans would universally support a minor trade to clear up a cloudy roster picture, or even designating Morales for assignment and eating the remainder of his contract. Blaming the manager who has been given a flawed roster won’t fix Josh Donaldson‘s shoulder, correct whatever is ailing Marcus Stroman, or remind Morales how to hit. The Blue Jays need to start getting a better performance out of their best players, otherwise this is a season that’s going to be over in a hurry in Toronto.
Maybe Gibbons loses his job anyway, but I don’t think that is what the Blue Jays ultimately need right now. They could use some healthy bodies in the lineup, in the rotation, and a sense of urgency from their veterans. This team has to know that it’ll be broken up if they’re not performing, so the time is now to start performing. If that time comes and the veterans start being sold off, maybe then is the time to let Gibby go too, if they choose. For now, I’d rather see the Captain go down with the ship if it’s sinking, especially since he’s not the one who caused the leaks in my opinion.
Next: Blue Jays should offer Bautista a post-career job
For me, this one is on the players who aren’t performing, and maybe a little bit on the front office that put together the roster.