Jays Stumble in May

The Toronto Blue Jays got off to a strong start in 2018 with a 16-12 record going into the month of May. Since then, they have gone 8-15, including a four-game sweep at home by the lowly Oakland Athletics. Among other notable May losses was the James Paxton no-hitter on May 8. The Jays have only won a single series this month (road interleague series versus the Philadelphia Phillies) and have fallen into fourth place in the AL East with a record of 25-28, 11 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox.  While I had predicted that the Jays would eventually cool off, I did not expect them to slump for an entire month. So, what gives?

  • Low-Powered Offense

Out of the 23 games played so far this month, the Jays have scored 5 or more runs just 8 times. When the Jays have scored 5+ runs in May, they are 7-1. When they have scored less than 5, they are 1-14.

  • Russell Martin

I don’t understand why this catcher continues to play nearly every day, since he has a woeful .161/.288/.322 slash line for 2018 and has been outperformed offensively by C Luke Maile, who is hitting .291/.378/.456 with 14 RBI in 25 games, nearly equaling his 2016 RBI total of 15 with Tampa Bay, which came over 42 games. However, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons continues to find creative ways to get Martin into the lineup, including a start at shortstop for the first time in his career on Saturday. It’s past time to bench him.

  • Roberto Osuna

The young closer was arrested on May 8 and charged with assault. The victim was allegedly his dating/intimate partner. Osuna is currently on administrative leave until June 4 per the MLB domestic violence policy, and his first court date is scheduled for June 18. As a result, the Jays have been unable to rely on Osuna’s assistance to close out games for much of the month and have seven blown saves for the year, five by pitchers other than Osuna.

Unfortunately for Toronto, it appears they will be without Osuna indefinitely. According to this analysis from Forbes, it is unlikely that MLB will wrap up its investigation under the domestic violence policy until his case is finalized in the Canadian court system. This is a serious problem for Osuna as, if his case were to go to trial, the process could last as long as 18-30 months. According to Forbes, it may be in his interest to cut a plea deal if the case against him is strong in order for the MLB investigation to be concluded more quickly. If Osuna were to be found guilty at trial or pleads guilty to a lesser offense in a plea bargain, it is also not guaranteed Toronto will continue to employ him given the serious nature of the alleged crime.

  • Marcus Stroman Injuries

The Jays’ ace SP started off the season on the DL and was placed back on the 10-day DL with right shoulder fatigue retroactive to May 9.

Conclusion

If the Jays are going to be able to turn things around, they will need strong performances from the current starting rotation and better run production. The coaching staff will also need to make a determination as to who will be the closer going forward while Osuna’s assault case remains pending with the courts. RP Ryan Tepera has three blown saves, while RP Tyler Clippard has two, including one in a 5-4 loss to the Angels on May 23. It may be time to consider handing the role over to Seunghwan Oh, who previously served in this capacity with St. Louis in 2016-17, going 39/47 in converting save opportunities.

The Jays continue their current road trip with a three-game series against the division rival Boston Red Sox opening at 1:05 PM ET today (Tickets – SeatGeek).