With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, the Toronto Blue Jays enter the second half of the regular season eight games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and 4.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics currently hold both spots while the Seattle Mariners sit just in front of the Blue Jays.
The season picks up again on Friday, with the club set to start a six-game homestead that will see the Texas Rangers (35-55) and the leading Boston Red Sox (55-36) come to town for a three-game series apiece. The Blue Jays will then hit the road to face the New York Mets (47-40) for a three-game weekend series before facing the Red Sox at their home barn for four more games.
The hope would be the Blue Jays could pick up at least two wins against the Rangers, even though this ballclub can give them hard times regardless of whether or not they are performing well this season.
The Toronto Blue Jays need a strong start to the second half of the 2021 season as they face the division-rival Boston Red Sox and NL East leading New York Mets over the next few weeks.
The bigger tests will be against the Red Sox and Mets, as both teams lead their respective divisions and if the Blue Jays want to regain some ground in the AL East, taking five or six games against the Red Sox over the next few weeks will help with the overall playoff push.
The Blue Jays also sit in a fascinating position in that they could potentially return to the Rogers Centre as early as July 30th, with the organization now waiting for Federal Government approval to head back North of the border.
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There is no word yet on what the government plans to do but after seeing the proposal submitted by the Jays, it seems pretty airtight in terms of COVID safety protocols and keeping the players and the public safe. Factor in that Canadians are receiving vaccines at an increasing rate and provinces are starting to loosen restrictions, the Blue Jays should be able to return to their home ballpark sometime this season, whether it is July 30th or sometime later in the campaign.
Returning to the Rogers Centre would be huge for the Blue Jays, especially if fans are allowed back in the venue. Any ballplayer can tell you that playing in front of a home crowd is always a boost, so the quicker the team can get back to Toronto, the better, for both the organization and the fanbase.
It will also be interesting to see if the front office is going to be improving the team on the trade front with the trade deadline fast approaching. Ross Atkins has already made some solid moves to shore up the bullpen in acquiring RHP Trevor Richards and RHP Adam Cimber while adding some outfield depth in Corey Dickerson.
If the Blue Jays are serious about contending this postseason, a few more arms in the bullpen wouldn’t hurt as well as possibly acquiring another established arm in the rotation to go alongside Hyun Jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, Alek Manoah, and a resurging Ross Stripling (sorry Steven Matz, to the bullpen you go).
The lineup has already proven they can hit with the best of them and after the strong All-Star game from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and Marcus Semien, you would think that they can carry the momentum from the game and from the strong first half of the season over to the second half of the campaign. Add in a healthy George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and this team should be able to pick up where they left off.
Toronto has had one of the more difficult schedules in the major leagues, fourth on TeamRankings.com, and the teams they face do not get easier when the season resumes later this week.
Winning the series against the Rangers needs to happen and taking both series against the Red Sox will do wonders for the spot on the standings, with a weaker August schedule hopefully helping the Blue Jays as they push for a spot on the postseason this year.