While the Toronto Blue Jays continue to deal with injuries to key players, their situation isn’t exactly unique among baseball.
Take comfort in your friends
The Toronto Blue Jays are experiencing an absolutely brutal run of injury news. The most recent addition was that Kendrys Morales has been hit with a hamstring strain. Jokes about accelerated movement aside, this is definitely not good for a team already without key pieces to their postseason aspirations.
The recent string of bad luck appears to have the club scrambling for answers, as presented in this fine piece at Sportsnet:
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) May 11, 2017
And, they should be. After experiencing a run of extreme health, the club touted its training staff, its high performance and medical staff. And, why not? They should. When you experience very few games lost to injury, as evidenced by the starting rotation, something has to be working, right? The proof was in the pudding.
Except, this year, the pudding seems to have turned. It would appear that players are dropping like flies. Just look at their current list of injuries:
Josh Donaldson– calf
J.A. Happ– elbow inflammation
Russell Martin– shoulder nerve inflammation
Troy Tulowitzki– hamstring
Dalton Pompey– concussion
Aaron Sanchez– blister, then split finger nail
Bo Schultz– Tommy John surgery
Glenn Sparkman– fractured thumb
Reading this list all at once is rather scary. But, as scary as it is, it hardly unusual when you look around Major League Baseball. Often, when we follow one team so closely, we can get fooled into thinking that their problems and issues are unique and that no other team is suffering like they are.
But, checking MLB’s Injury Report is rather eye opening. The Blue Jays have 9 players on the DL for various lengths. But, they are hardly the worst off. In fact, the Red Sox, Rays, Athletics, Mets, and Padres all have 9 players currently on their DL. The Cardinals have 8, while the Angels and Mariners have 10. And, no one has as many players on the DL as the Dodgers do. They lead the league with 13 players (over half of them pitchers) out with injuries.
Having the new 10 Day DL rule in baseball this year certainly has an impact on how many players are listed on the DL. In the past, players may have been playing through “minor” injuries in an effort to avoid longer stints away from their club. We should probably get used to that 10 day period being used significantly this year. It certainly has been in the first 6 weeks of the season. For example, of the Blue Jays nine, five are listed as 10 Day-ers. The Dodgers have nine of their thirteen on the 10 Day DL.
So, while it might seem like the Blue Jays are struggling through a rash of injuries, it certainly is not a phenomenon that is unique to them. What makes it more meaningful, though, is that the names on the DL are meant to be important to their success. When Donaldson, Tulo, Martin, Sanchez and Happ miss significant time, the team is missing a major amount of production; they are forced to fill spots with guys like Ryan Goins, Chris Coghlan, Darwin Barney and Johnny Revolving Door (see rotation). Missing one or two mainstays can be weathered, but when you have to rely on lesser production in so many key spots, it is quite noticeable.
With all due respect to Goins, Barney, Coghlan et al, they are not The Bringer of Rain and/or Tulo. The dropoff is huge. It results in lineups being filled out that more closely resemble a travel game in Spring Training than that of a team trying to compete for a postseason spot.
This whole thing puts that High Performance & Medical staff in the spotlight. It forces them to do some quick troubleshooting on the fly. Anyone who thinks that is not happening is fooling themselves. While it is easy to point the finger at the training staff though, we also have to remember that current stretches like this emphasize the importance of having solid depth.
There was a time when guys like Mike McCoy would be called upon to fill in for injured regulars. Thankfully, the current roster is set up with quality substitutes. That is not to say that the injuries to star players is not concerning. That would be silly. Instead, it is just to point out the need for the front office to continue searching for depth in every nook and cranny. They cannot rest on their laurels. They’ve built a solid roster, but injuries keep popping up to remind them that those efforts never end.
No one could have seen this kind of infestation of the injury bug in Toronto. One or two guys, sure. But, nothing like this. After a year of relative health, the Blue Jays will be forced to scramble just about every day to figure out how to compete without key players. While this is frustrating for fans, there is some sort of sick comfort in knowing that this is not an unusual set of circumstances among teams in MLB. If misery loves company, these are definitely not lonely times.
Take comfort in your friends
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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