Upcoming stretch of games could be the last stand for the 2024 Toronto Blue Jays

Seasons cannot be won in the month of May, but they can certainly be lost.
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Well, this is it, the hill the 2024 Toronto Blue Jays will die on, or the one they will climb back to playoff contention.

Yes, the season has been a disaster so far, with the Jays sitting five games under .500 in last place in the AL East. Yet, just as it seems all hope is lost, the scheduling gods have bestowed upon the Jays an opportunity to turn things around in a hurry – 13 consecutive games in 13 days against projected bottom feeders of the league. Get hot and beat these teams, and the season outlook may appear a whole lot different two weeks from now. Fail, and there is likely no way back.

Welcome to the last stand of the 2024 Blue Jays …

The Schedule

May 20-22 vs. CWS; May 27-29 @CWS

The last stand begins with six games against the moribund Chicago White Sox – three at the Rogers Centre starting Monday, then three down on the South Side starting Monday next week. At the moment, the White Sox are the worst team in the league, sitting at 14-33 with a monstrous -99 run differential.

On the mound, the White Sox have one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, currently ranked 27th in ERA, but this does not even begin to highlight their struggles. You know how bad the Blue Jays offense has been in 2024? Well, the White Sox offense has been significantly worse.

Seriously, not only are the White Sox last in the league in runs per game, but the distance between their number (2.83) and the Jays in second last (3.64) is the same as the distance between the Jays in second last and the Twins in 13th. This is a team sitting at the absolute bottom of the barrel, dead last, in batting average, on base percentage, slugging, OPS, home runs, and total bases. Even better from a Blue Jays perspective, they are currently without their face of the franchise and one true slugger, Luis Robert Jr., who is on the IL with a hip flexor strain.

Of course, some will point out that while the White Sox currently have the worst record in the league, a few weeks ago they were sitting at 3-22 and seemingly ready to challenge for the title of worst team ever. Since that point, they are 11-11, which, incidentally, is a better record than the Jays over that time (7-12).

Still, this is a team projected in the preseason to lose somewhere around 100 games, which is now missing its best player. For the Jays, six games against the White Sox have to be seen as an opportunity to win pretty close to all of them.

May 23-26 @ DET

Sandwiched in between the two White Sox series is a four-game set at Comerica Park in Detroit. Yes, the Tigers are currently sitting at .500, and have enough interesting young pieces that many are suggesting brighter days are just ahead, but it can probably be said that their 23-23 record is inflated next to the team the Jays will face in Detroit.

First of all, the Tigers started the year 5-0 (including a three-game sweep of the aforementioned White Sox), and have gone 18-23 since. Moreover, their record is buoyed by the astonishing performance of their Cy Young frontrunner Tarik Skubal, who has pitched to a 1.80 ERA and mind-bending 0.78 WHIP over nine starts. The Tigers have gone 7-2 in these nine starts, and 16-21 with anyone but their ace on the mound.

Good news for the Jays, the way the schedule sets up today, they will miss Skubal on their trip to Detroit. If this holds, then the Jays will likely have the starting pitching advantage in the series, against a Tigers lineup which is languishing in the bottom ten in runs per game and OPS. Four game sets are tricky, but without Skubal on the mound, the Jays have to like their chances.

May 31-June 2 vs. PIT

Finally, the Blue Jays’ last stand concludes with a three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 22-26 as of this writing, the Pirates seem mired in yet another year of something less than mediocrity. Yet, like Detroit, even this record may not represent the team the Jays will face at the Rogers Centre.

Note that the Pirates started a surprising 10-4, before imploding and putting up at 12-22 record over their next 34 games. And while a week and a half is a long time in baseball, if the Pirates stay on schedule with their starting rotation, the Jays will miss both rookie phenom Paul Skenes – who, if you haven’t heard, is already pretty much the greatest pitcher in the history of the game – and fellow rookie Jared Jones, who has opened eyes with a 2.89 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in nine starts thus far.

Add in the Pirates’ punchless offense, which ranks in the bottom five in runs per game, batting average, and OPS, and a fragile bullpen headlined by a closer with a 7.85 ERA and a setup man named Aroldis Chapman, and it’s hard not to see the Pirates as ripe for the picking.

The Blue Jays Last Stand … in 2024 and Beyond

At this point, it is all relatively simple – 13 winnable games in 13 days; put up a record of 9-4, and the Jays will be back at .500, only two games behind their pace at the same point last year. Fail to rack up wins, however, and the 2024 season is probably over.

It’s actually more than that though. With 17 free agents in the next two years, including both Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, the next 13 games likely represent not only the last stand of the 2024 Jays, but of this current incarnation of the team.

Fail to get back into it in 2024 and what is surely coming is a complete teardown, from the front office to the coaching staff, to the players on the field. In other words, the team now faces 13 games to determine whether its window is still open, or whether an era which began with so much promise comes to an end with a whimper, 13 games to reveal a rejuvenated chance at glory, or an imperative for fresh faces from top to bottom in 2025.

One wonders whether the franchise itself recognizes the crossroads they now find themselves at, the last stand upon which they are about to embark. After all, it has gotten to be a sort of twisted Groundhog Day whenever those with their hands on the steering wheel deign to speak to the masses.

Only a few days ago, general manager Ross Atkins was once again preaching patience at his first media availability since the team’s home opener on April 8th, insisting “we have a talented team, and we have some time for things to correct.” Perhaps there is time. But how long before the man preaching blind faith becomes a violin player on the Titanic?

The answer: 13 games.

Simply, the unending time for “things to correct” is over. All that remains is 13 games, the last stand of Ross Atkins and John Schneider, of Vladdy Jr. and Bo Bichette. 13 days from now we will have so many answers. Might as well settle in and enjoy it.

Is a 9-4 stretch, or better, incoming? Or are the Blue Jays themselves among the bottom feeders other teams will expect to beat? Let me know on the platform formerly known as Twitter – @WriteFieldDeep.