Blue Jays: Evaluating the first half of a difficult 2019 season

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 20: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a 2 run home run and celebrates with Marcus Stroman #6 in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rogers Centre on June 20, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 20: Teoscar Hernandez #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a 2 run home run and celebrates with Marcus Stroman #6 in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rogers Centre on June 20, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 07: Shortstop Freddy Galvis #16 and Socrates Brito #38 of the Toronto Blue Jays as Brito catches a fly ball hit by Kevin Plawecki #27 of the Cleveland Indians during the fourth inning at Progressive Field on April 07, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The pitching staff

We’ve now established that the Blue Jays’ lineup would be cause enough for futility from this team so far, but the pitching staff hasn’t helped things either.

The starting rotation has been ravaged by injuries throughout the year, as they’ve missed key portions of the season from Matt Shoemaker, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Borucki, Clayton Richard, and more, and Aaron Sanchez has dealt with blister and fingernail issues again, although he’s managed to avoid the injured list. Thankfully Marcus Stroman is having a strong season, and Trent Thornton has been a worthwhile rotation piece.

The bullpen hasn’t been hit as hard in the injury department, but beyond Ken Giles I don’t know that there is a whole lot of reason for celebration. Giles is working on an All-Star calibre campaign with a 1.33 ERA, 12 saves, and 47 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.

Overall the pitching staff is sitting 23rd in baseball in team ERA with a 4.91 mark, and it’s only because of the struggles across the American League that rank them 10th in the AL. They’re 22nd in opponent’s batting average, 23rd in strikeouts, 29th in OBP, and 27th in OBP. You could argue that the pitching staff has been slightly better than the offence, but I’m not sure that matters at all here.

The Blue Jays do have Richard back in the rotation and Borucki made a successful appearance with the GCL Blue Jays earlier this week, but things could get ugly for this staff by the end of next month, Both Marcus Stroman and Ken Giles have been the subject of trade rumours, and there’s an outside chance that Aaron Sanchez could attract some interest too. Losing any or all of those arms won’t help for a team that’s had to rely on Edwin Jackson at times because they admittedly didn’t have any better options.

There are some nice pieces in the lower levels of the minor leagues for the Blue Jays, but most of them are a few years away. This has to be the focus for Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro at the trade deadline if they’re making any significant moves.

First-half rating: D-

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