The Blue Jays are going to start the 2022 campaign with a fairly tough schedule, and as a result they should take a different mindset into the season.
“It’s early” is a common phrase that you’ll hear thrown around in baseball over the course of the first month or two, and I understand where it comes from. A 162 game schedule is long and gruelling, and a lot can change over the course more than six months. It is true that sometimes there’s no need to panic in April if things aren’t starting off on the right note.
However, I think the results for the Blue Jays in 2021 should be a lesson that they carry with them this year, and that’s the value of one more win. With one more win in 2021 they would have at least forced an extra playoff game with the eventual Wild Card winners in the Yankees and Red Sox. It was really tough to swallow that the Jays won 91 games last season and still needed one more win to make the playoffs.
If we reflect back on the early part of the 2021 schedule, there were many, many examples of lost opportunities. The bullpen actually started off by producing pretty well, but as injuries decimated the staff their performance fell apart. You can’t necessarily blame last season’s opportunity on one thing, but blown saves in the early months is probably the first thing that comes to the minds of most Blue Jays fans.
As the Jays start the 2022 season with a pretty tough slate, I hope Charlie Montoyo manages the team with a bit more urgency in the early part of the calendar. They’ll start off with three games against the much-improved Texas Rangers, and follow that up with a 4-game series against their division rivals in the New York Yankees.
In the back half of the month they’ll play three games at home against the rebuilding Oakland A’s, followed by a three-game set in Boston against the Red Sox. The schedule doesn’t let up either as they’ll visit the Astros for three games in Houston, before returning home to close out April by hosting those same Red Sox and Astros for three games a piece. Drawing the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros for 16 games out of the first 22 is no easy task.
As I already mentioned, one month generally doesn’t make or break a season in the big leagues, especially at the start of a long schedule. That said, last season the Blue Jays were given a harsh reminder of the value of missing out on one win, and when you have the opportunity to hand a loss to teams like the Yankees and Red Sox in the early going, you had better take it as often as you can. After all, a win in April counts the same as the ones in September.