The Pre-All-Star schedule should reveal a lot about the Blue Jays
The Blue Jays just finished 4-4 over an eight game stretch against the Red Sox and Rays, and will need to build momentum leading into the All-Star break. Thankfully their schedule gives them an opportunity to do just that.
I think we’re past the point of blaming a difficult first half schedule for the Blue Jays, but the good news is that things should be a little bit easier over the next couple of weeks before the league breaks for the mid-season classic.
The Blue Jays hit the road to begin a new week and head into Oakland to play one of the weaker teams in the American League as the A’s are just 26-55 this season. The A’s are in the first year of a rebuild after trading stars like Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, and the Blue Jays’ own Matt Chapman, and they should be ripe for the picking. While the Jays weren’t scheduled to see Frankie Montas in this series anyway, it looks like the A’s may have also lost one of their best trade chips to injury on Sunday when the veteran left in the first inning with shoulder inflammation. Instead, the Blue Jays will see lefty Cole Irvin, and a pair of righties in Adrian Martinez (6.30 ERA), and James Kaprielian (5.43 ERA).
After a three-game set in Oakland the Blue Jays will head to the west coast for a four-game series against the Mariners. With the lighter border restrictions these days that series will likely feel like a home away from home set, as many Canadians will head down to Seattle for the weekend to see Canada’s team. The Mariners are also missing some of their best players right now as Ty France is still on the shelf (although he could be back by next weekend), and Mitch Haniger is still rehabbing his ankle injury. It won’t be an easy series, but the Blue Jays likely won’t be seeing the Mariners at their best this time around.
After that the Blue Jays will head back to the Rogers Centre for another home stand to close out the first half. First they’ll welcome the Bryce Harper-less Philadelphia Phillies for two games, who are 41-38 as of this writing, and then they’ll close things off with a four-game series against another American League cellar dweller in the Kansas City Royals, who are last in the AL Central at 29-48.
Other than running the table, a perfect world for the Blue Jays might look like a sweep of the A’s and Phillies, and hopefully at least 3-1 series wins against the Royals and Mariners. I doubt they’re going to finish 11-2 over their next 13 games, but this is a stretch where I would say they should be able to go at least 9-4. A 53-40 record heading into the All-Star break would still represent plenty of missed opportunity for a team that’s felt like they’re on the cusp all year, but it would also be a strong position to start the second half from. That’s especially the case as the Red Sox and Rays play against each other seven times before the break.
Every MLB season is going to have its ebbs and flows, and that’s certainly been the case for the Blue Jays this year. That said, they’re approaching an important stretch in their schedule over the next two weeks, and arguably a crucial opportunity to make some headway in the American League standings.