The Blue Jays finished off a disastrous road trip by losing another frustrating game on Sunday. If this is rock bottom in 2022, and lets hope it is, where do they go from here?
If you spent any time on social media on Sunday I’m sure you noticed many Blue Jays fans and writers asking that very question. Just when it looked like the Blue Jays might salvage a win in their four-game set with the Mariners, a series of unfortunate events led to yet another loss. Gabriel Moreno’s untimely error didn’t help, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s glove giving way for the second time this year (how does that even happen?!?) felt like the baseball gods were picking on the Blue Jays.
I think it’s fair to feel like the season is spiralling out of control at the moment, but what can the Blue Jays do in the immediate term? Let’s look at the most common ideas floating around social media after their sixth straight loss.
Will there be changes to the coaching staff?
I never pay much mind when I see fans calling for Charlie Montoyo’s job, or for others on the Blue Jays coaching staff, but that narrative was picking up some steam on Saturday, and even from a few voices I respect. I’m not going to name them for various reasons, but I feel like the idea has pushed closer to a possibility than just frustration from the fan base.
That said, Blue Jays fans shouldn’t expect anything to happen over the next few days, if at all. As Dan Shulman mentioned on Sunday’s broadcast, there will be several coaches headed to support Mark Budzinksi for the tragic funeral of his 17 year old daughter Julia during Monday’s off-day. I would say there’s a zero percentage chance that the Blue Jays make a coaching change while this is taking place, and rightfully so.
If the front office was going to make any in-season changes to the coaching staff, it’s far more likely that it happens sometime over the All-Star break. With six games left before the mid-summer classic, there’s a chance that the Blue Jays will be playing for some of their coach’s jobs. If I were going to put money on it though, I suspect that it’ll be after the season is over before anything like this happens.
Can they make a big trade right away?
It’s frustrating that the Blue Jays find themselves in very similar position to last year. They have some obvious needs in June/early July, but the trade market hasn’t materialized enough to make a truly impactful move to improve the roster.
With the addition of the extra playoff spot in 2022, it stands to reason that more teams will view themselves as possible contenders, at least until we get closer to the trade deadline. That lends itself to a slower market, and the only way to force its hand is to pay a higher price in return for the players you want, which isn’t exactly ideal.
I’m certain that the Blue Jays are looking for any short-term fixes they can find, and they’ve made moves like that such as bringing in Sergio Romo and Anthony Banda, but that’s not going to cut it to cover their shortcomings. Chances are the Jays are going to have to ride things out until at least the All-Star break, and hopefully talks will heat up a bit from there.
With the Blue Jays being in a “win-now” window, don’t rule out the possibility of a significant trade at the deadline. Whether that’s bringing in significant piece or two, or even sending one of their own MLB regulars the other way, I feel like there are more paths on the table than there were a month ago. This team needs a shake up, and the sooner it comes the better.
Can they afford to do nothing?
The short answer is no, but the good news is that there’s only six games left before the All-Star break and fortunately the Jays will finish off the first half with a home stand. In the immediate term it looks like Kevin Gausman should be able to make one of those starts, and Max Castillo can fill in for Yusei Kikuchi’s spot for the time being. Castillo has pitched very well of late, and has certainly earned the opportunity.
Beyond the rotation, which still badly needs some depth and reinforcements as well, the Blue Jays have a need in the bullpen even if the relievers performed admirably against the Mariners on the weekend. While they have several serviceable bullpen options, they’re really lacking for the type of arms that can generate swings and misses. They might be able to make it to the playoffs with the group they have, but it’s hard to see the pitch to contact approach working against the very best. If the Blue Jays are serious about making a postseason run in 2022, they have to add at least two quality relievers to the mix, with at least one of them taking some pressure off of Jordan Romano’s ninth inning role.
As for the lineup, yesterday I wrote why the Blue Jays might need a left-handed bat to add to the offence after all, and the performance over the last couple of games didn’t do much to change my mind. The lineup could really use a shot in the arm, and in a perfect world they’d have a left-handed hitter to pencil in somewhere in the top four. Those types don’t just grow on trees, but might be a little easier to find than pitching help.
After winning just one out of their last ten games, the Blue Jays are at a critical juncture of the 2022 campaign. Yes, the All-Star break will hopefully provide the re-set that they could really use right now, but it’s going to take more than that to get this team back on track.