Throw all the excuses aside and forget everything that happened in the first half of the MLB season. Right now, all that matters for the Toronto Blue Jays is the next 13 days on the schedule starting with Friday night’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto enters the second half four games under .500 and 11.5 games back of the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox.
So, if the Jays are going to get back into this race, they need to make a serious push ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. With expectations so high at the beginning of the season, it’s hard to stay patient when you’re this far behind in the race for the playoffs, but Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos would be smart to stay the course – at least for the next week or so.
“These four days will be good for us, a little breather, regroup,” manager John Gibbons told reporters just ahead of the break. “We’ll find out what we’re made of and how good we are in the second half. We need everybody to kick it in in the second half.”
This team could show serious life with a number of players coming back from injury. Melky Cabrera is expected to return to left field when the Jays send Esmil Rogers to the hill to face David Price Friday night and he could give the offence a jolt. You have to think Brett Lawrie will only look more comfortable at the dish in the coming days after returning to the lineup just before the break as well.
Really, not much went right for the Blue Jays in the first half when you consider the injuries to Lawrie, Jose Reyes, Brandon Morrow, JA Happ, Ramon Ortiz, Adam Lind … you get the idea. That’s why the Jays want to hold on to players like pending-free agent Josh Johnson. Sure he has struggled since coming over from Miami, but who hasn’t? Toronto owns the second-worst rotation ERA (5.07) in the American League right now. Toronto can’t completely bail on this season just yet.
“The rotation, as it sits right now, we need those guys to perform better,” Anthopoulos told reporters. “The guys in the rotation certainly have the ability to pitch a lot better than they have.”
There’s no time to waste, either. Toronto has lost four of its last five against Tampa Bay and needs to make up some serious ground against division rivals. After this series, the Jays don’t play another AL East team until the middle of August, well past the trade deadline. This is it, Jays supporters. Either the team fades away in the dog days of summer or finally begins living up to its billing. Buckle up.