The Toronto Blue Jays have been out of it for a while, but there’s still plenty of reason to play and watch this September.
The 2018 Toronto Blue Jays season has been lost. In truth, it’s been lost for a while. Injuries to Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez early on in the spring, coupled with dreadful starts from Kendrys Morales (who is, you know, great now) and others didn’t help much either, and the result is a team 10 games under .500 in the toughest division in the game going into the final month of the season.
One might be tempted to walk away from this team right now. Yet, with 32 games left to play, there’s still plenty of reason to watch.
Josh Donaldson’s Return
Josh Donaldson is set to begin a rehab assignment in Florida on Tuesday. At most, the Blue Jays might get 20-ish games out of the 2015 AL MVP, with minimal potential for a trade at this point.
Technically possible #BlueJays trade Donaldson this month if he gets into rehab games soon, but it appears unlikely that they'll be able to do so
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) August 26, 2018
So chill out on those trade speculations with Donaldson right now, and enjoy the final days of him as a Blue Jay. Ideally he finishes the season with the Blue Jays this season, gets himself healthy, and receives a qualifying offer. The price tag would be a rough one for the Blue Jays to swallow going into a 2018 that should debut Major League Baseball’s greatest prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but with the amount of injuries that have plagued the team in 2018, it’s probably worth the gamble. Donaldson has earned his first free agent payday, and he’ll likely pursue it.
Whatever it is that Kendrys Morales is Doing
Morales via interpreter Josue Peley: “I’m really happy that they want my bat. It’s amazing what I’ve been doing so far. It’s emotionally really nice.” #BlueJays
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) August 26, 2018
Honestly, if I’m Kendrys, no one is touching that bat right now until the streak is over.
Since the low spot of mid-May, Morales has been on a tear. Out of seemingly nowhere, his fWAR has popped up to 0.9 after last year’s abhorrent -0.6. He’s topped by only five Blue Jays batters, including Luke Maile (0.9), Randal Grichuk (1.0), Aledmys Diaz (1.0), Justin Smoak (1.4) and Kevin Pillar (1.6).
Man, that was depressing to write. What’s not depressing is that our Cuban DH will have a special place in Cooperstown:
Seven straight games with a HR for Kendrys Morales. One more ties Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long for record. Only three others have seven straight.
Since he bottomed out May 17, amid the apex of the call-Vlad Jr.-up-now hysteria, Morales is hitting .310/.381/.571.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 26, 2018
Aside from Jack Morris, there’s been little consideration of a Blue Jay in Cooperstown in 2018, and you have to admit, that this is a pretty cool honor for Morales after his extreme struggles this spring.
The September Call-Ups
The Blue Jays are blessed to have a Top-5 minor league system, and much of that ranking is due to many of this year’s promotions to Triple-A of the team’s top talent. Before we get too deep into that, no, Vladito isn’t coming up in 2018. There’s no defending the front office here, as they’re absolutely just gaming the service time requirements for that extra year of team control.
That messy business out of the way, there’s still plenty of exciting names wrapping up their Triple-A seasons this weekend. Rowdy Tellez is fresh off a recent Team of the Week over at MLB Pipeline:
Team of the Week: https://t.co/LSIAyCy7RS
🏆 #BlueJays Tellez
🏆 #Braves' Wilson
🏆 #Dbacks' Ellis
🏆 #Dodgers Ruiz
🏆 #Orioles' Hall
🏆 #Padres' Urias
🏆 #Rangers' Thompson
🏆 #Rays' Solak
🏆 #Royals' Bubic
🏆 #STLCards Gallegos
🏆 #Tigers' Azocar pic.twitter.com/irM8TnrKIz
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 20, 2018
Tellez has yet to get that cup of coffee, but on a recent hot streak may have propelled him to earn a few swings this September, depending on the reason for his yet unexplained absence this weekend.
And then there’s the outfielders. Anthony Alford, Jonathan Davis, Dalton Pompey and Roemon Fields are potential call-ups, and the gamut of them provides a glance at some particularly fun tools to dream on, especially the on-base speed of Davis and Fields.
Yunito, Danny, Borucki
Even without the call-ups, the evolution of young Blue Jays in Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen and Ryan Borucki, this last month has been outstanding to watch for Blue Jays fans. While Lourdes battles with plate discipline, he still manages to piece together key kits and some flashy defense. Jansen is off to a hot start, showing of his ability to spray the ball all over the field and play superb defense behind the plate. Borucki has seen some struggles of late, but he’s learning and evolving on the job. When this team is clicking for good in a couple of seasons, these formative days will feature prominently in the minds of Jays fans that stuck it out.
The Yankees and Red Sox
Look, I’m sorry I even brought them up…but it’s never too late to ruin it for everyone else.
There are currently 32 games left on the Blue Jays schedule for 2018. While an unmerciful 9 are against the perennially irritating Tampa Bay Rays, The Jays will play September 11th-16th against the Red Sox and Yankees, with both series coming on unfriendly territory. With the Red Sox lead in the AL East reduced to six games over the weekend, the Blue Jays can directly influence the results of the division, and potentially the Wild Card play-in game over those six days.
Depending on what side you’re on, and many of you rightfully mobilize against both franchises, the Blue Jays could be a significant impact on your most dreaded team’s playoff outlook.
Just Keep Watching
Hockey season is coming soon. With it will also be the new NFL season, the NBA, and the thick of the English Premier League.
But stay with the Blue Jays through September. There will be plenty to watch for.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.