It’s been a very shaky start to the 2021 campaign for the Blue Jays, but after 21 games they’re in far better shape than it’s felt like so far.
Heading into an off-day on Monday, the Blue Jays are currently 10-11 and sitting in third place in the AL East. It hasn’t been pretty at times, but as Yankee Grey would tell ya, all things considered they’re doing just fine.
That’s not to suggest that there hasn’t been wasted opportunity, but I think it’s also important to keep some perspective about what this young team has dealt with in the season’s first month. They’ve been without the services of George Springer for the entire regular season because of two separate injuries, and Teoscar Hernandez for all but seven games because of a positive Covid-19 test. Those two represent important cogs to the lineup, and their pending returns this week will provide a big boost.
Then there’s the pitching staff, which despite being decimated by injuries in the early going has been one of the better units in baseball, especially in the bullpen. So far they’ve had to manage injuries to Robbie Ray, Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch, Kirby Yates (lost for the season), Jordan Romano, Julian Merryweather, David Phelps, T.J. Zeuch and more, and they’ve found a way to persevere. Hopefully Hyun Jin Ryu won’t miss any time after he had to leave his start early on Sunday, because that’s a blow that would be the hardest yet to take. They’ve done well with a “next man up” mentality so far, but I’m not sure that I’d count on them sustaining this level of performance, even if the early returns have been encouraging.
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The good news is despite the fact that they’re one game under .500, the Jays are only three games behind the Red Sox for first in the East, a half game back of the Rays for second, and they have a one game lead over Yankees, who’ve had an even worse start to their early schedule. Things haven’t gone according to the projections at all so far, and thankfully the Jays aren’t the only ones who haven’t met their early potential.
If I’m also looking for the “glass half-full” side of things, I think it’s safe to say we should expect some improvement from a few young Blue Jays as well. Danny Jansen has been dreadful in the batter’s box, and the infield defence from Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio has been a real weakness. Marcus Semien hasn’t gotten rolling with the bat in his hands, and neither has Lourdes Gurriel Jr. There is too much talent on this roster for offensive production to be this weak, and it shouldn’t last. At some point these guys are going to start hitting.
So while I understand if Blue Jays are frustrated thus far, and trust me I’m with ya, it’s not as bad as it’s felt like it has been. They’ll have an important test ahead of them when they host the Nationals and Braves and then head to Oakland to play the red-hot A’s, and we might know a little more in a week or two about what this season holds. Thankfully it’s still April, and despite the early season struggles, things could be a lot worse.