Blue Jays offensive struggles are covering up a pitching staff that has been just as rough

“It's going to come... It's May 1st. It will come. We will be better."
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays
Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

As the Toronto Blue Jays get a much needed day off to regroup before opening their next series in Washington on Friday, fans are looking at the wreckage of the month of April, when the team went 13-15, and drawing some unpleasant conclusions.

Yes, the offence is bad. They’re averaging less runs scored per game at 3.47 than they did as an expansion franchise in 1977, at 3.76. And yes, they have an MLB-worst .192 batting average and .556 OPS with runners in scoring position (RISP), behind even cellar dwelling teams like the Chicago White Sox at .598, and Pittsburgh Pirates at .613.

Yes, Jays Journal No. 3 prospect Orelvis Martinez alone has more home runs for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons (8) than the top three hitters in the Blue Jays batting order - George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette - who’ve combined for 7 homers. Is it only a matter of time before the 22-year-old right-handed hitter forces his way onto the 26-man roster and into this anemic lineup?

But the offensive struggles of this team are masking another inconvenient truth: the team pitching has been bad, too. There’s a reason why the Pythagorean estimate of what Toronto’s win-loss record should be is only 12-20 compared to their actual record of 15-17: they’ve allowed 142 runs against only 111 runs scored, for a run differential of -31. In other words, their actual winning percentage implies they’ve been lucky to win 15 games so far.

There’s no hiding the fact that the team ERA of 4.34 ranks 23rd in baseball. Their FIP of 4.56 ranks 28th, which means the defense has regularly bailed out the pitching. Blue Jays pitchers have allowed 42 home runs season-to-date, only less than the White Sox. The .257 opponents’ batting average against is tied with the White Sox and struggling Houston Astros for 5th-highest in MLB.

While that’s all not very good, if you remove the pitching of early Cy Young candidate José Berríos and the outstanding relief pitching we’ve seen from Yimi García, its far, far worse.

The team ERA jumps to 5.14 without those two pitchers. The other starters have combined for a 4.88 ERA excluding Berríos, and the bullpen has an unsightly 5.46 ERA without García.

So as we reflect on some bad Blue Jays’ baseball so far to start off 2024, it’s not just the hitters that have been underperforming. Thankfully, as manager John Schneider noted after Wednesday’s 6-1 loss at home to the young, upstart Kansas City Royals, “It's going to come... It's May 1st. It will come. We will be better."

Yes, it’s still only the start of May, and there’s 80% of the season still ahead of us. Hopefully the team can get things turned around as the warmer weather arrives, and those metaphorical April showers give way to May flowers?