The Blue Jays need the best from pretty much their entire roster this week, but in particular their veterans need to step up and lead the way for their young teammates.
One of the things that I love about big league baseball is that it’s truly a team effort to be successful. It’s wonderful if you have Mike Trout and/or Shohei Ohtani on your roster, but it’s not enough unless the rest of the supporting cast is there. Thankfully the Blue Jays have a nice mix of talent on their roster, but a good portion of their core is still relatively inexperienced at this stage of their careers.
That’s where guys like George Springer, Marcus Semien, and veteran starters like Jose Berrios, Robbie Ray, and Hyun Jin Ryu need to come in. This is the point in the season where you turn to the guys who have been “there” before and ask them to make good use of their experience. That’s not to suggest that youngsters like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Alek Manoah and others won’t heavily factor into the equation, but they’re also learning on the fly as well.
For a guy like Springer, his playoff resume is one of the reasons he’s so highly revered around the league. I realize we’re not quite at the playoff stage of the calendar just yet, but for the Blue Jays the pressure is already pretty much the same. It’s been a tough season for the the 2017 World Series MVP, but thankfully Springer is at least back on the field, even if he’s not quite 100%. However, if he’s feeling well enough to be tracking down fly balls in centre field then I think we’re past the point of making excuses for the 31 year old. The Blue Jays need him to show why he was signed to a six-year, 150 million dollar deal, and it’s in part for moments just like these ones, especially as an experienced star presence who can support his talented young teammates.
Semien doesn’t have nearly as much postseason experience as Springer, but he’s been exceptional when he has had the opportunity, slashing .371/.450/.571 with a pair of home runs over 35 career playoff at-bats. More importantly, the 31 year old has plenty of experience in pressure packed environments from his time with the A’s, and that’s something that his fellow infielders can learn from, and hopefully lean on.
Despite the fact that he didn’t last all that long on Monday night, Hyun Jin Ryu was pretty solid in his return from the 10-day IL. He only pitched 4.1 innings, but if not for a bloop single by Anthony Rizzo in the fifth inning that knocked the southpaw out of the game, he likely holds the Yankees to just one run. On a night when the Blue Jays badly needed him to deliver, I’d say he landed somewhere on the positive side of their hopes and expectations.
The Jays are going to need the same from Berrios and Ray in their last two games with the Yankees, which are pretty much must-win at this point. They now sit 3.0 back of the Yankees with five to go, and a best case scenario still leaves them relying on the Tampa Bay Rays to beat New York in the last series of the regular season, while also having to take care of business against the Orioles. They’re only a game back of the Red Sox after Monday’s schedule, but Boston plays Baltimore for two more and finishes up against Washington, which are two match-ups they should be favoured in. We also have to keep an eye on the Mariners, who are beating the A’s as of this writing on Tuesday night, and if that holds they’ll actually be ahead of the Blue Jays by 0.5 a game.
While the series opener against the Yankees was a pretty big bummer, all is not quite lost for the Blue Jays. That said, they’re going to need to find a way to beat the Yankees over the next two days, and carry that momentum into their last three with Baltimore. For as talented as the core of this team is, the Blue Jays need their high-paid veterans to step up when it matters most.