Blue Jays: Please don’t waste Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s MVP caliber season
The Toronto Blue Jays opened up the second half of the 2021 season with a dominant 10-2 win against the Texas Rangers. Starting pitcher Robbie Ray was phenomenal on the mound, going 6.2 innings while only giving up four hits and two walks while striking out eight batters.
The Blue Jays offense was also on full display, with only George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. failing to register a hit while five different players had RBI and four different players having a home run in the contest.
Leading the charge for the Jays was 22-year old Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who cranked out two home runs on his way to four RBI and one walk in the win against the Rangers. He would improve his slash line to .335/.434/.677 on the season and currently sports a 1.111 OPS, leading all players in the major leagues. The two home runs last night also put him three behind leader Shohei Ohtani (33) and Guerrero Jr. currently leads the majors in RBI (77), batting average, and OPS.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is having a tremendous year and the time is now for the Toronto Blue Jays to add some talent before the trade deadline to create a roster that can contend for the World Series championship this season.
Although Guerrero Jr. is having an MVP caliber season that saw him already win the All-Star game MVP hardware, the Blue Jays currently sit eight games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and four games back of a Wild Card spot with the Seattle Mariners ahead of them and the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays currently occupying the spots in the AL.
While the bats have been effective for the Blue Jays all season, the pitching has been a bit of a sore spot on the roster. The club sports a collective 3.96 ERA (12th best in the majors) which is not bad compared to the rest of the league but the issue arises in the close games, where the Blue Jays lose by a run or two because the bullpen implodes or the starter doesn’t go deep into the game. Combine those losses with the dropped games against division rivals throughout the first half of the campaign, and you can see why the Blue Jays are just a few games over .500.
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For example, the Jays sport a 21-22 record against AL East teams, which is one reason why they sit eight games back of the Red Sox and third in the division. They also sport a .375% win percentage (6-10) in one-run games, with 19 of their 42 losses being within two runs or less over the first half of the season.
These tight losses can be blamed on a variety of factors (bats went silent, bullpen implodes, Charlie Montoyo poor decision making, etc) but the fact of the matter is this: if the Blue Jays want to be World Series contenders this year and not waste Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his MVP worthy season, improvements will need to be made to the roster before the trade deadline.
Ideally, the pitching corps could use a few more established arms in the bullpen like Richard Rodriguez, Craig Kimbrel, Kendall Graveman, or Ian Kennedy while a veteran starter like Jose Berrios or Max Scherzer would form a fantastic trio alongside Ray and Hyun Jin Ryu, with rookie Alek Manoah and Ross Stripling behind them. The front office has added Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards to the bullpen already this year but a few more arms would let fans breathe a little easier as the team marches on towards October.
If Ross Atkins wants to be bold, he could add a third baseman like Kris Bryant or Jose Ramirez (if the Cleveland Indians become sellers), adding another potent bat to the lineup to put more runs on the board.
These acquisitions will cost a significant amount of prospect capital in order for any deal to happen, a sacrifice that seems worth the risk considering the season Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Teoscar Hernandez, and Bo Bichette are having. While Blue Jays fans can be over-attached to the farm system and the prospects from within, the reality is that acquiring high-level major league talent requires top-tier prospects, especially for rebuilding teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago Cubs.
Overall, with the season Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is having both at the plate and at first base, the time seems ripe for the Blue Jays to be buyers at the deadline this year to improve the team and make a run for the postseason. While the record may have fans gawk considering they are only 46-42 on the year, there are still quite a few games left on the season to gain ground and fight for a postseason spot, whether in the Wild Card or at the top of the AL East.
The time is now to not waste a talented, young team that the Blue Jays possess especially after the tough rebuilding years fans endured from 2017 to 2019.
The gap to contend for the postseason started last year and it is time for Atkins and co. to supplement the weaker areas on the roster to create an all-around playoff-contending team that sets the framework for the next few years.