As the Toronto Blue Jays get set to embark on the final series of the season, their playoff hopes are still very much alive.
There’s been a lot of talks lately among the fanbase and media about what would constitute a successful season in 2021.
Sure, it would be disappointing if they don’t make it now that they’re so close, but at what point is there a bright spot, a silver lining? If a fortune-teller told you back in March that this team would win 90+ games and be in the hunt for a playoff spot how would you feel?
Blue Jays 2021 Season: A Step Forward
I did my best to project the upcoming season and penciled the Jays in for 87-90 wins and the second wild-card spot. I wasn’t counting on the Red Sox being as good as they have been.
The Jays are on the verge of achieving that and yet there remains a palatable level of saltiness from the fanbase over some moves that were made, and the front office in general.
To me, that is unwarranted, and this season has been the first real chance for the team to be a legitimate contender under the partnership of Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro.
Have all their moves worked out? No, of course not, but Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien were likely the two best free agent signings in all of baseball. Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber have helped patch up a leaky bullpen and Jose Berrios, while he didn’t come cheap, has solidified the rotation.
It’s fair to point out that a month or so ago none of this seemed possible. The Jays were floundering in the Wild Card race and dangerously close to falling out of it. Then came the unlikely comeback against the A’s, the almost equally wild series with the Orioles and they were right back in the mix.
So, there’s a bit of playing-with-house-money feel to the Blue Jays in their current situation. Yes, the expectations were high before the season began, but the level of turmoil has also been high throughout the year.
First, it was starting the season playing “home” games in Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, then moving to Dunedin. They lost Kirby Yates and David Phelps both for the season, George Springer has only played into 75 games and it has been the first full MLB season for Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette.
I understand some of the angst is stemming from a shaky stretch that followed the rollicking 14-3 run, but that kind of pace is hard to keep up.
How about 91 wins and a Wild Card spot? A loss in the that game would feel like a thud to end the season but it’s better to get in, right? What about a Wild Card game win followed by a series loss to the Rays in the ALDS? Can’t get too mad about that.
That’s what makes this team so compelling and why it’s so important for them to make the tournament. They’re the somewhat rare Wild Card team that truly has a chance to run the table and go all the way.
Sure, for an optimist like me it’s already been a successful season. But with the pending free agency of Semien, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz, there’s a feeling that this team could be worse, and not better equipped to make a similar run next season.