So, you’re saying there’s a chance the Blue Jays can still make the playoffs?
Technically, there is (FanGraphs miraculously gives the Jays a 20.2% chance of making the postseason), but in order to get to October, they’ll need three of their key players to step up in the second half.
In the first half, the Blue Jays leaned heavily on contributions from guys like Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, and Roberto Osuna. As well as they’ve all performed since Opening Day, three guys can’t carry a team into the playoffs.
The Blue Jays need All-Star-worthy performances out of several key members from their roster in order to even have a sniff at a playoff spot come October.
1. Josh Donaldson
Incredibly, the Blue Jays posted a 20-18 record while Josh Donaldson was on the disabled list, but the Bringer of Rain simply hasn’t been himself this year.
Yes, the team was able to tread water without Donaldson in the lineup, but the Blue Jays need him at 100% in order to make up some ground in the standings.
In his two-plus seasons in a Blue Jays uniform, Donaldson has driven the Blue Jays offense; often delivering game-tying or go-ahead home runs when the club needed it most.
The Blue Jays’ third baseman is not only a game-changer on offense, but he’s stellar on defense and the base paths. There’s simply no matching his production, which is why it would be counterproductive for the Blue Jays to consider trading him right now.
If Donaldson can’t get things going in the second half of the 2017 season, it’s hard to envision the Blue Jays having a decent shot at making the playoffs.
2. Aaron Sanchez
Anytime you subtract an ace from the starting staff, teams scuffle to match that type of production in the starting rotation. Thus was the case of the Blue Jays with Aaron Sanchez; who only managed to start six games in the first half.
Blister issues plagued Sanchez since Opening Day, but his return just prior to the All-Star break provided a much-needed boost to the Blue Jays’ fledgling rotation.
Sanchez’ latest outing on Friday night – six solid inning with no earned runs against the Detroit Tigers – looked more like the Sanchez of 2016; the very same pitcher who mowed down opponents en route to taking home the American League ERA title.
Through the first half of 2017, the Blue Jays were middle-of-the-pack in terms of starting staff ERA. But with Sanchez back as an anchor for this rotation, the pitching staff can finally resemble the same dominant Blue Jays starting rotation from last season.
3. Jose Bautista
If the Bringer of Rain is the one that drives the Blue Jays’ offense, Joey Bats is the valiant co-captain.
Nobody had a more up-and-down first half on the Blue Jays than Jose Bautista; a man who was ice cold in April, heated up in May, thawed off in June and has come out of hibernation in July.
Yes, it does seem a little crazy to depend on a 36-year-old veteran to co-captain the Blue Jays’ lineup. After looking up and down the batting order, there really isn’t anyone else whose bat could come alive quicker and provide more of an impact than Bautista in the leadoff spot.
Since usurping Kevin Pillar as the Blue Jays hitter back on June 22nd, Joey Bats is slashing .289/.407/.429. He may not be clubbing home runs like the Bautista of old, but he’s reaching base at a breakneck pace, which only stands to benefit the meat of the Blue Jays order in Russell Martin, Donaldson and Smoak.