Watch closely as the Toronto Blue Jays fade quickly like the impostors they are going into the final days of summer baseball. The Jays had a torrid May, but it’s July now. They have the 24th ranked team ERA in MLB, and the Boston Red Sox didn’t really play a game against the Jays on Monday night — they merely continued their pre-game batting practice against the opposition’s pitching, namely Drew Hutchison.
David Ortiz had two home runs and passed Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski for 36th on the all-time MLB career home run list, en route to his team putting up a football-esque tally in the box score.
Unless GM Alex Anthopoulos pulls off a significant deal before the trade deadline, the Jays do not have the pitching staff to be playing meaningful innings into September. Hutchison, the starting pitcher, was his usual miserable self at home on Monday. Heading into the contest, Hutchison had a 2.97 road ERA versus a 6.75 home ERA at Rogers Centre. He failed to make it out of the third inning in this ball game.
Then there is the rest of the rotation. Suffice it to say, the trade for R.A. Dickey has been a gross miscalculation. He followed up his 2012 Cy Young campaign with a 14-13 record to go with a 4.21 ERA in 2013. This season hasn’t been much better, as his ERA again hovers around 4.00 (3.95) and he has a losing record of 7-10.
Toronto traded away some strong prospects for him and re-signed him to be their ace. Aside from eating innings, he has not been close to an ace. Yet another gloomy thing to hang over Anthopoulos’ head during his tenure as GM.
Brandon Morrow has been largely irrelevant over the last two seasons, spending much of his time on the DL. But even when he has been healthy across his combined 16 starts in 2013 and 2014, he has been brutal, with ERAs north of 5.00 in both seasons.
J.A. Happ has an ERA currently flirting with 5.00, Dustin McGowan has proven to be more of an asset out of the bullpen, and Liam Hendriks was a brief, but failed experiment.
Enter Mark Buehrle, who had a spectacular first half going 10-6 with a 2.64 ERA. He has easily been Toronto’s best pitcher in 2014, but you can’t help think given his track record, he will come back down to earth in a matter of time.
With all of that said, the rookie Marcus Stroman has been the lone bright spot in the Jays’ rotation over the last month and a half. Since May 31, he has a 4-2 record with a 2.50 ERA over 54 IP in nine starts. As the July crunch time games on the MLB schedule are being played, no team wants their best starting pitcher to be a rookie.
It appears as though injuries to Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind will also continue to set the team back. Toronto has won games for the most part this year due to their explosive offense. With the trio expected to be sidelined well into August and the W-L records of the AL East ball clubs starting to bunch up, the Blue Jays’ weak rotation and lack of depth in the minors should have them coasting to another mediocre finish in 2014.
Unless Anthopoulos makes a move — something he desperately needs to do if he wants to keep his job in 2015 — October baseball in Toronto will be put on hiatus for a 20th consecutive season.