Blue Jays: Don’t dismiss the value of a sweep, even against the Orioles
It may have come against the lowly Baltimore Orioles, but don’t dismiss the value of a four game sweep for the Blue Jays. The team and their fans needed this badly.
After a very rough stretch of baseball for the Blue Jays, the team is back in the win column in a big way after sweeping a four game series with the Baltimore Orioles. The last place team in the AL East was in Toronto for a four game set from Thursday to Sunday, and gave the Blue Jays and their fans exactly what they needed.
There were a couple tight games, and then there was Sunday’s series finale. The Blue Jays piled on to a hurting unit on the other side, beating them by a score of 13-3 and collecting a season high 19 hits.
For a roster that’s underperformed nearly across the board, the big offensive output was a badly needed boost for this team. Fortunately the starting rotation has been much better over the last couple of turns, but the offence was still scuffling, that is until Baltimore got to the Rogers Centre at least. This series, and the last game in particular, was exactly what this team needed to get going.
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I’m not suggesting that it’s suddenly made them a playoff contender again, not at all. The Jays still sit 11 games back of the 2nd Wild Card spot, and have a herculean task if they’re going to leapfrog Detroit, Oakland, L.A., and Houston or Seattle. It’s not impossible by any means and there are plenty of games left to play, but that doesn’t mean that I think one series sweep suddenly makes them a favourite again.
It should give Blue Jays fans at least a shred of hope, and if nothing else a sigh of relief about where the 2018 season is headed. It’s one thing to fall out of the playoff race and have to do some rebuilding to the roster, but I believe it’s another when you’re a complete bottom dweller. The Orioles for example, currently sit 19-45 after the sweep in Toronto, and face a massive overhaul to the organization at some point in the not so distant future.
Some folks would argue that there is value in tanking completely, and I can understand the logic to that side of thinking for sure. However, in the case of the Blue Jays and where the organization is at the moment, I don’t think that’s necessarily the scenario to hope for, even if this year’s team can’t pull themselves back into the playoff race. There is a lot of talent on the way in the minor league system, and there is way more of it on the big league roster than what we’ve witnessed so far this year as well. Despite some frustrating performances, I refuse to believe that guys like Marcus Stroman, Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, and others are as bad as their numbers have been so far.
The organization and it’s players built a lot of excitement in the city of Toronto and all around Canada, and it’s slowly tapered off this season, especially compared to the numbers in 2017. That was to be expected to a certain degree, but being firmly in the cellar of the league isn’t great for business, or fan engagement. And while I get why some people believe that tanking, and getting a top pick in the draft, is a sound strategy for a potential non-playoff team, the lack of a draft guarantee just isn’t worth the fan apathy if you ask me.
As I said above, I really do believe this team is much better than what they’ve shown us so far, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them finish the year above .500 now that they’ve swept the Orioles and moved to 30-35. Guys like Kendrys Morales and Randal Grichuk have come to life, and eventually the Jays should get Stroman and Donaldson back. Add in the encouraging performances from the starters, and there is reason to believe this team could be fun to watch, just as the last four games have been.
I know there are some people out there who will disagree with me, but even if that’s not enough to put them back in the Wild Card race this fall, I’d rather see this team finish around the .500 mark than tank and be in a nightmare like what Orioles fans are experiencing right now. It’s not an enviable position, even if it lands them the top pick in next year’s draft. Yes there are benefits there too, but going through a 162 game season with a .297 winning percentage is about as rough as it gets, and I’m starting to think they may be able to pull it off with that team.
As far as the morale of the Blue Jays for the rest of this season, being able to gain some positive momentum by beating up on the division rival has a lot of value for John Gibbons‘ ball club. There’s a chance it’s earned a longer leash for the coaching staff, and maybe even some of the players, especially Grichuk. And even if I hate to say this, getting individual players performing where they should be will also be important in trade discussions, should it come to that this summer. To me though, the most important thing is it gave fans a reason to watch this team again, something they haven’t really had since the early part of May.
Next: Blue Jays claim RHP Preston Guilmet from the Cards
With 97 games left to play in the calendar, getting back in the win column should do wonders for the Blue Jays. Hopefully they can take that momentum into their series with the Rays in Tampa Bay, and build on the positives of the last four wins.