Blue Jays falter in The Athletic's latest power rankings after rough opening weekend
The Athletic updated their MLB power rankings (subscription required) following the first weekend of action around the league. The Blue Jays, not surprisingly, dropped a few spots in the list put together by Zach Buchanan, Nick Groke and Stephen Nesbitt.
With a 1-2 record heading into Monday's action, the Jays slid to 11th, down from their pre-season ranking of eighth.
No, it's not time to panic, but it certainly wasn't the opening weekend Blue Jays fans hoped for. After dropping the series in St. Louis and the additional pummeling at the hands of the Royals Monday night, you'll forgive them for the glazed-over look they may get when you bring up the early-season struggles.
Groke's first weekend lowlight for Toronto was the lack of home runs. For a team that finished seventh last season with 200 long balls, a three-game power outage is an alarming way to begin the year. You can't blame the weather, either, as the Cardinals deposited six balls over the fence.
Thankfully, Bo Bichette has already put the home run narrative to bed with the team's first of the season at the end of last night's contest in Kansas City.
Groke also includes Matt Chapman's game-two error as a lowlight. One of the rarest things to witness in a Blue Jays game, the usually sure-handed third basemen's fielding blunder that led to three unearned runs was a deflating turning point. So much for Kevin Gausman's luck turning around to start the season.
The final piece in the trio of lowlights, according to Groke, was the batting practice session that Chris Bassitt threw on Sunday. The Cardinals tagged him for nine runs in 3.1 innings. Not exactly the debut fans were expecting. Nor was Bassitt, as his post-game comments made clear.
"I'm a little bit at a loss for words," Bassitt said. "I've never had a game like this where six different pitches were getting hit hard."
It's not all doom and gloom, however. Groke makes a point of highlighting the Jays' offense. They did score 15 runs over their first three games of the season, plus five more on Monday, even though they came up short in the win column.
"Set aside a small sample within the small sample, and they're plating like crazy," Groke explains. "Toronto ranked second in the AL last season (behind only the Yankees) scoring 4.8 runs per game. And 5.0 is more than 4.8. And Matt Chapman is 6-for-12 with a pair of doubles. So good news!"
Perhaps it's how they got no-hit through five on Saturday by Jack Flaherty, unable to capitalize on the seven walks he issued. Or maybe it was the feeling of being out of the game from the get-go on Sunday (and then again on Monday), but it's easy to forget that they have scored runs, just not enough to overcome the rotation's rough start.
While the early-season returns are unsettling, there's plenty of baseball left and once the Blue Jays hit their stride, they should move back up the power rankings before too long.