3 reasons to believe in the Blue Jays' strong start this year
By Paul Taylor
Competing with the best
The Tampa Bay Rays are undoubtedly one of the best-run organizations in the majors. On a streak of four consecutive playoff berths, they continue to compete despite low budgets and attendances.
This year has seen the Rays take their play to another level, tying the modern-era record of 13 consecutive wins to begin a season. There is no denying they are the cream of the crop up to this point.
In the strongest division in baseball, the Rays found themselves entering Friday with a league-best 30-9 record. However, despite an early eight-game lead over the Blue Jays, there is nothing to be fearful of.
This is because it was the Blue Jays themselves, who stopped the Rays' season-opening winning streak at 13 games. The two teams met in Toronto, with the hosts winning 6-3 in the first of a three-game series.
The Blue Jays went ahead in the very first inning and never looked back, at one point leading 6-1 through six innings. Bo Bichette went an incredible 5-for-5 at the plate, while Berríos had one of his better starts, giving up just four hits, no walks and one run in five innings.
The Blue Jays followed this up with an equally impressive 5-2 win the next day. Kikuchi led the way with one of his best games in a Jays uniform, allowing just four hits, a walk and one run in six
Critics will conceivably point to the Rays winning the finale 8-1, along with the Blue Jays having home advantage in general as the reason they won the series. However, it's worth noting the Rays are 10-4 versus other opponents on the road up to this point.
Honorable mention – Matt Chapman
There is every chance Matt Chapman will be gone after this season, especially with how he is playing right now. He is going to receive a lot of lucrative offers, which the Blue Jays may not be able -- or want -- to compete with.
Chapman is on course for a career-best year in a variety of statistical categories and was named AL Player of the Month for April. He leads the Blue Jays in doubles, batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS and WAR.
The three-time Gold Glove winner has indicated there is mutual interest in a contract extension. Just in case however, it's best the Blue Jays do everything possible to take advantage of his hot hand in their bid to compete for the World Series.