Blue Jays as Good as Last Year, In a Better Spot

The Toronto Blue Jays are on pace to match last year’s 91 win total, but should end up in a better spot this time around


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The Toronto Blue Jays began this season looking to improve on their 91 win total of 2021. It wasn’t quite good enough for a playoff spot as they missed the postseason by a single game. They set about improving their roster – amid a lockout – while also trying to make up for key subtractions from their roster. Their efforts resulted in a rarely seen level of hype around this team. The 2022 season began with very lofty expectations on Toronto. While the season has been a roller coaster of emotion, they are on pace to match their 91 wins…but still make the playoffs.

 

Losing Cy Young winner, Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien and Steven Matz made the offseason efforts a tad more challenging for Ross Atkins & Co. Not only did they need to improve on their 2021 season, they had to start by making up for the deficit these departures created. A trade for Matt Chapman and signings of Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi appeared to be the answer…in addition to trades for Bradley Zimmer and Raimel Tapia and the signing of Yimi Garcia. Combining these additions with another year of progress from the young core seemed to have some of us dusting off our lawn chairs for the inevitable parade.

 

But, like the old saying goes, the proof would be in the pudding. And, there have been some chunky bits in this year’s pudding. Hyun Jin Ryu was not very good and then he was hurt. The starting pitching wasn’t doing its job, then the offense wasn’t doing theirs. The bullpen appeared to be overworked, despite comparing rather well against the rest of baseball. In short, the ups and downs of the first few months of this season featured a whole lot of not firing on all cylinders. Of course, the more optimistic among us pointed to the fact that the club has been in a playoff spot all season and could only go up from there.

 

Here we are at the half way point of the season and the chances of making the playoffs look good for the Blue Jays, despite the inconsistency that some were hoping to see. Fangraphs has Toronto’s playoff odds (at the time of writing) at 93.1%, which breaks down as follows: Winning Division: 2.2%/ Wild Card berth: 90.9%/ Winning World Series: 5.8% (only 5 other teams have higher odds). Even more interesting is that Fangraphs projects Toronto to win 91 games.

 

Let’s assume, for a moment, these projections are dependable and there isn’t anything that could change them. This would see the Blue Jays finish with the same record as last year, but this time making the playoffs. I’ll take it. The biggest difference this year is the context of the AL East, really. The Yankees appear to be running away with the division, even with half the season to go, while the Rays have seen their fortunes change a bit this year. The Red Sox are hanging around, but not the threat they’ve been in the past. There’s also the Orioles. The division didn’t look quite like this last year. That said, there is reason to believe that the Fangraphs projections could change by quite a bit.

 

Looking at the Wild Card race, things look very interesting and primed to cause some adjustments in Fangraphs’ projections. At the time of writing, Boston holds the 1st Wild Card spot, half a game back, Toronto holds the second spot and Tampa Bay sits another half game behind them. The sheer ebb and flow of a baseball season alone is enough to alter those standings, but teams won’t just sit back and wait on math to decide the playoff picture.

 

You can bet that New York will be looking to cement their position and prepare for a postseason run. They never have any trouble getting whatever additions they need whenever they want. The Red Sox may choose to take advantage of their surprising (to me anyway) position and use their financial wherewithal to make a Trade Deadline deal or two. The Rays have even shown in recent years that they have the prospect capital to make some impact deals of their own.

 

So, it falls on Toronto to seriously look at their roster, their spot in the postseason picture and what upgrades are out there to be had. Likely, they will look to improve their bullpen first and their rotation second. Those needs are rather obvious, and could be the cheapest to acquire in terms of prospects and money. While we may be drooling over big additions like Frankie Montas, Toronto may feel that it has enough pieces to make a run if they can just add a few couple arms. It would be a surprise to see them grab a rental player or two a la 2015. Instead, if there is a big addition, it would look more like the Jose Berrios deal of last year, which doesn’t seem likely this time around.

 

Toronto finished last year with 91 wins and missed the postseason, but things look a little different this time around. This year, the Blue Jays are in a spot where they need to continue their play on the field and make a couple additions to add depth to their pitching staff. If they can do that, Fangraphs will look rather clairvoyant. However, don’t be fooled by their 93.1% chance of making the playoffs. There’s still three months to go and a lot can change. But, for right now, they look to end up in a better spot with the same amount of wins as last year.

 

 

 

*Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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