The first month of the MLB season has just ended and the Toronto Blue Jays are right in the thick of things in the stacked AL East. The Blue Jays currently sit at 16-13 which is good for the 4th best record in the AL. Defence, starting pitching and Edwin Encarnacion have been carrying the Jays thus far. The defence has been especially strong up the middle with Escobar, Johnson and Rasmus. The Jays are the league leaders in rolling double plays and Rasmus has already made several highlight real snags. The starting pitching has been strong lead by ace Ricky Romero. The starters have routinely been pitching 6 innings plus keeping the bullpen fresh. Edwin Encarnacion is having an incredible start to the season with 9 dingers and 24 runs batted in. However, there have been some poor starts to the season in the bullpen and with the rest of the hitting line up not named Encarnacion or Lawrie.
The bullpen was a major focus in the offseason for the Jays as they were near the top of the league in blown saves. A new closer in Sergio Santos was brought in as well as a fire balling set up man (Cordero) and a crafty lefty specialist (Oliver). Unfortunately for the Jays the revamped bullpen has struggled thus far converting only 4 saves in 10 opportunities. The 6 blown saves are 2nd worst in the AL behind the LA Angels. The Jays will give Santos a long leash to figure things out once he gets back from the DL. Santos has all the tools you want in a closer, but will have to keep his 95+MPH heater down to be successful. Any big league hitter can hit a grooved belt high heater no matter how fast its thrown.
Of more concern to Jays fans is the slow start by the Jays bats. Adam Lind and Jose Bautista have struggled mightily. Lind is batting .200 while Bautista is hitting .180. They have combined for 7 home runs and 23 RBIs which falls short of teammate Encarnacion’s output. Definitely not numbers you want to see from your #3 and #4 hitters in the line up. Bautista has been showing some signs of life lately as he has been hitting the ball hard the last few games. His timing looked just off in April, but it appears it’s just a matter of time before he gets back to hitting at an all star level. I’m predicting a monster May and June for the slugging right fielder. As for Lind the same hopeful optimsim can’t be shared. As pointed out by Gregg Zaun on today’s Jays broadcast it appears Lind has lost his ability to hit the fastball on a consistent basis. A MLB player who struggles to hit the fastball is in big trouble. Lind may soon drop in the order and if he continues to struggle may lose some playing time to EE at 1st.
Overall a solid month for the Jays. Being above .500 in a division of super powers is an amazing accomplishment in itself. What’s even more impressive is the Jays have this record while not having all the parts of the machine running optimally. If the starters can keep doing what they’re doing and the defence keeps doing what they’re doing the Jays will be fine. The bats will come around and the ‘Pen will mesh and settle down. There’s no rush or anything… I mean there’s only 6 months left in the season