After last season’s disappointing 76-86 finish, the Toronto Blue Jays are off to a strong start in April, going 6-4 in their first ten games and winning three out of the first four series played. Not that such things matter much at this time of the year, but their record of 8-5 has them sitting second in the AL East to the 9-2 Boston Red Sox, ahead of the third-place New York Yankees (6-6), with whom they split their opening four-game series.
Fans did not have very high expectations for the Jays after their fourth-place showing last year, but they are showing signs of potential to contend for a playoff berth in 2018. To what do we owe this resurgence?
First of all, the Jays have benefited from a somewhat soft schedule in the early going. Apart from the opening four-game series with the Yankees, the Jays have faced mediocre competition, like the rebuilding Chicago White Sox, in addition to the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. They are not set to see stronger opponents until this weekend, when they will play the Cleveland Indians. Later on this month, they will play their second series with the Yankees and their opening series with the first-place Boston Red Sox later on this month.
Generally speaking, the Jays’ new faces also are off to a good start, apart from Randal Grichuk, who is hitting .077/.140/.179. SP Jaime García has posted 11.1 IP, 12 SO and a 3.18 ERA in his two starts for his new team, with a record of 1-0.
With regard to returning players’ performance thus far, SP Aaron Sanchez took a no-hit bid into the 8th inning versus Baltimore on April 10 and appears to be free of the nagging injuries that sidelined him for parts of the 2017 season. On April 10, RP Roberto Osuna also picked up his 100th career save to become the youngest player to record this number of saves, passing Francisco “K-Rod” Rodríguez.
In less positive news, DH Kendrys Morales has been placed on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain suffered during the Monday game versus Baltimore. However, Toronto manager John Gibbons expects he will return to play promptly without any need to extend his stay on the DL.
My outlook for the Blue Jays this season remains the same. I expect them to perform well and post a winning record, but do not expect them to make a playoff appearance, as their competition is too stiff. I also expect they will cool off some over the coming weeks as they face stronger teams such as Cleveland and Boston, but this year’s team and its new additions should remain competitive and enjoyable to watch.
The Blue Jays conclude their nine-game road trip with a three-game weekend series at Progressive Field in Cleveland starting on Friday at 7:10 PM ET.
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