These are troubling times in the AL East. Well, at least for people in Connecticut.
A longtime battleground state between Red Sox and Yankees fans, this hectic 2020 season has given some common ground between our two teams.
Red Sox fans (myself included), still mad about trading away a generational talent in Mookie Betts, have watched in disgust as the team struggles more at the plate and seems to get worse and worse on the mound as the games go on. The low, low expectations set for the team have somehow not been achieved in this throwaway of a season.
Yankees fans, with big expectations for a World Series run, have been plagued by injuries, have gone 5-15 in the last 20 games and currently sit at 21-21 as the No. 8 seed in the revised playoff format.
But while some teams struggle, others thrive, such as the Toronto Blue Jays. While they finished 2019 with a horrible 28 games under .500, the plethora of young talent coming up from the farm system have made many fans excited for the future. They just didn’t know it would get here so fast. If your favorite team gets bounced from the postseason, here’s why you should root for the Jays.
Unlike the Sox or Yankees, the Blue Jays are a fun team to watch. On Monday night after being down 5-2, the offense exploded for a 10 run 6th inning, capped by a grand slam from Danny Jansen. RBI singles also came from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Travis Shaw. Their fifth-best 66 home runs bring lots of excitement to the table.
On Tuesday night, they picked up a big win over the struggling Yankees thanks to great performances by the pitching staff and a two-run bomb by Jonathan Davis. This win is their third in a row and puts Toronto at just 3.5 games back of the first-place Rays with a few weeks left in the season.
Led by youngsters Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Gurriel and Guerrero, the Blue Jays have shown massive improvements from last year and are only getting better. They finished last year with a league-worst .235 batting average and a 23rd-best OPS of .733. This year, however, they have posted a .257 average and an OPS of .778, which rank 10th and eighth, respectively.
On the pitching side, there have been big strides as well, led by ace Hyun Jin Ryu. The team finished 2019 with a WHIP of 1.43 and an ERA of 4.79, 21st in the majors. Currently, their team WHIP is 1.35 while allowing just 3.94 earned runs per game, putting themselves at the eighth-best mark in Major League Baseball.
At the trade deadline, the Blue Jays acquired a handful of players, most notably starting pitcher Taijaun Walker. He is having a very strong season, going 3-2 with an ERA of 3.26 with a WHIP of 1.112. His first appearance as a Blue Jay led to six shutout innings and a win, making a great first impression with the fans. He will provide much-needed depth to a rotation plagued by injuries.
Getting into the MLB playoffs is a lofty goal, as only 10 teams in the league get a postseason bid. For this year only, six extra teams will have a shot at a ring. Under this revised format, Toronto is currently the fifth seed in the American League. This would be the first time Toronto would make the playoffs since 2016, and just the third time since their back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.
If the season ended today, they would be the fifth seed, playing at the fourth seed Chicago White Sox. While they haven’t played each other this season because of a COVID-19 schedule shift, the White Sox are 26-15 in a tie for first place in the AL Central with the Cleveland Indians.
For a team that quietly struggled last year, the Toronto Blue Jays are making a lot of noise. So if your favorite team is struggling to stay afloat this season, hop on the Blue Jays’ bandwagon; it’s sure to be a hell of a ride.