Technically, the Blue Jays were at their very worst this year on April 28th when they were 11 games under .500 with a 6-17 record. They haven’t bottomed out that badly since, but this much is true; this past weekend was the low-water mark of the 2017 Blue Jays season.
In all likelihood, this goes down as the weekend that sunk the Blue Jays. A weekend where the Jays were outscored 23-5, outhit 31-18, blown-out in one game, walked-off in another and were outplayed in the finale.
It’s a little eerie; the Cleveland Indians abruptly eliminated the Blue Jays from the postseason last year. And this past weekend, the Indians displayed that very same dominance against a less-formidable and less-capable 2017 Blue Jays squad.
It wasn’t enough that the Jays were swept by the Indians, the Jays also lost Aaron Sanchez to the disabled list for the fourth time – yes, the fourth time this season, as his blister issues re-emerged again.
I don’t want to say with certainty the Jays are done, but they’ve dug themselves so deep this far into the season, I don’t think they can come back from this. A few weeks ago there were still flickers of hope for this club, after falling even further back, those sparks may be all but extinguished now.
At the end of April, the Blue Jays still had the benefit of time. They were hopeful their star players would soon return to guide the Jays back to .500 and beyond. Nearly three months later, the outlook is bleaker for this team than it’s been all year.
The Jays may have Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, J.A. Happ, Francisco Liriano, and Steve Pearce back, but the team hasn’t fared much better with their star players than without them. If anything, these nearly-completely healthy Blue Jays actually look worse.
Save for Devon Travis, the starting lineup is completely intact and has been for the past two months. Judging by the Blue Jays’ play as of late, you’d hardly know it.
Josh Donaldson hasn’t been himself since returning from the DL, Jose Bautista is hot and cold, Kevin Pillar turned into a pumpkin and everyone save for Justin Smoak is performing below expectations.
It’s disheartening, to say the least. This is the exact same Toronto Blue Jays team which came “this” close to finally reaching .500 and were within an earshot of a playoff spot. Despite all their early-season struggles, the Jays made up a lot of ground and had a lot of momentum at the end of June.
In the weeks since, it feels like the Blue Jays took a complete nosedive; not only losing games and series, but losing in spectacular fashion. Not only were the Jays constantly blown out by double digit runs, they have scored the fewest runs in the American League this season.
Factor it all in, and it’s no surprise the Blue Jays are in the basement of the American League East. They haven’t consistently played well-rounded baseball for nearly a month now. Meanwhile, teams around the Jays aren’t only playing much better, but they’re getting reinforcements in the form of upgrades from the trade market.
If anything, that means the Jays will invariably be sellers rather than buyers ahead of the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. They have several players who could be moved, but more than likely, the Jays will be getting back pennies on the dollar for players like Liriano, Bautista and Estrada.
Where do the Blue Jays go from here? By the grace of the Baseball Gods, maybe the Blue Jays miraculously find a way to reach .500 this season. But unfortunately, that’s the loftiest goal this club has now and the postseason is out of the question.
Back at the end of April when the Blue Jays were 11 games under .500, if someone told you the Blue Jays would come within one game or returning to .500, they’d probably look at you like Jose Bautista looks at off-speed pitches.
I suppose it’s important to celebrate life’s little victories; the fact that the Blue Jays aren’t 30 games under .500 by now, that they came incredibly close to slipping into a playoff spot, and they aren’t exactly as bad now as they were at the start of the season.
There may not be many things about the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays to hang your hat on, but that’s probably about it.