The Blue Jays need to win now before a difficult schedule to end April

Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels
Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels / John McCoy/GettyImages

Coming off their wild season-opening 6-4 road trip, the Toronto Blue Jays are coming home to open up the revamped Rogers Centre and finally play in front of their fans for the first time this season.

Looking ahead, the Jays have some soft spots in their schedule to take advantage of before facing stiffer competition. Series against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox cushion an April schedule featuring matchups with the Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners.

The Jays welcome the league's worst and best for their home opening series

It looks like the schedule makers took pity on the Jays with a soft landing at home after some challenging travel to begin the season, as Toronto welcomes the hapless Tigers to open the home portion of their schedule.

The 2-7 Tigers have started 2023 where they left off last season, with one of the league's worst offenses. They currently rank dead last in the majors with a .250 team wOBA (Weighted On-base Average). For context, Toronto currently ranks fifth with a .342 wOBA.

The Tigers' anemic lineup seems like a great matchup for the Jays' two aces to make their home debuts against. Running out both Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman gives the Jays a quality chance of winning their first home series.

It's not just the Detroit bats that the Jays need to take advantage of. The Tigers' pitching staff should be ripe for the picking, having surrendered a second-worst .367 wOBA this season. Blue Jays hitters need to pile on the runs, especially since Toronto's pitchers currently rank 26th with a .349 wOBA against.

Taking two, and ideally all three, against the Tigers will be imperative. With the unbeaten Rays coming to town, the second home series will be a tough test on both sides of the ball.

While the Rays' first three series were at home and against very weak competition (Tigers, Nationals and A's), they have been absolutely obliterating their opponents to historic levels early in the season. Tampa has a league-leading .397 wOBA, 164 wRC+ and an eye-popping +58 run differential. Their pitchers have also posted a league-best .230 wOBA against.

With stellar starters Drew Rasmussen and Shane McClanahan probable, the Jays' lineup will have its work cut out on the weekend. Any way you slice it, it'll be a grueling series but will give the Jays a chance to test themselves against the league's best and bring the high-flying Rays back down to earth.

A tough schedule provides some soft spots for the Jays

The schedule doesn't get much easier after the Rays. Toronto will take to the road for six games in Houston and New York. While the 5-6 Astros and 6-4 Yankees haven't gotten off to the starts they would have wanted, both teams are formidable and play the Jays tough every year.

Getting the Astros so early in the season has a silver lining, however.

Possibly dealing with a "championship hangover," the Astros have begun the season with league-average offense and pitching staff. The three-game set in Houston could allow the Jays to cash in early wins before the defending champs wake up.

As for the Yankees, at 6-4, they boast the third-best pitching staff, led by ace Gerrit Cole, and the 10th-best offense with a .337 wOBA.

Following what promises to be a difficult three games in the Bronx, the Jays will return home to face the 5-6 White Sox, who have had their fair share of struggles early on.

Chicago's pitching has had a tumultuous start to the season. Their .364 wOBA against is the third-worst in the league. Despite striking out the most batters with 107, they have been wild, surrendering 52 walks with 11 hit batters. This is a staff that the home bats need to take advantage of before the Mariners roll into town for a rematch of last year's Wild Card series.

Seattle's pitchers have been tough on hitters so far. Luis Castillo leads a staff with a collective 3.07 ERA, good for fifth in the majors. Up to this point, they've only allowed six home runs and kept opponents to a .225 batting average.

The good news for the Jays is that the Mariners' bats haven't gotten going yet and currently rank 26th with a .295 wOBA and 91 wRC+. By then, hopefully, the Jays' pitching staff will be performing more like what was expected coming into the season.

The Jays need to take advantage of and rack up wins against the weaker opponents this month. The demanding April schedule won't look so bad if they can do that. If Toronto holds its own against the likes of the Rays and Yankees, the other tough-looking matchups could provide some opportunities for the well-rounded Jays to show us how good they can be in 2023.

Next. Pitching matchup, starting lineups for Blue Jays 2023 home opener. dark