As of May 1, the Toronto Blue Jays are 9.5 games out of first place. At a quick glance this may not be the worst thing you’ve ever seen, but considering the hype surrounding this team, it might as well be.
The addition of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera were supposed to be the final pieces to the ultra-competitive AL East puzzle.
Reyes is one of the best all-around players in the game today and he is on the DL.
Mark Buehrle, the author of a no-hitter and a perfect game, is performing well below expectations. His fastball-according to FanGraphs- is at a career low (84.2mph), and the number of pitches a batter swings at within the strike zone (65.4 percent) is a career high. His ERA is sitting at 6.35 and opponents are hitting a whopping .306 off him.
Josh Johnson, who is a free agent at the end of the season, isn’t living up to his end of the bargain. Since suffering a lengthy shoulder injurie that caused him to miss the majority of 2011, Johnson is till trying to live up to the hype of 2009/2010 when he was considered one of the rising stars in the NL.
R.A. Dickey, the reigning NL CY Young award winner, has shown flashes of brilliance, but at 38 Dickey might be nearing the end of the road. As a knuckler it’s possible he still have a lot left in the tank, though the question is whether we will see the dominant Dickey from last year, or a 10-12 game winner on a team struggling to keep their head above water?
Melky Cabrera is the wild-card, and right now he is not wild at all. Cabrera was dominant last year until performance-enhancers derailed what was looking like a career year. A free-agent after 2012, the Jays signed him to a 2-year, $16 million contract. After 111 at-bats Cabrera has two extra-base hits, with six RBI, a .243 average and an anaemic .580 OPS.
It’s not just the big four struggling to start off the season. Jose Bautista is seeing a steady diet of off-speed pitches, and opponents aren’t necessarily giving in when the count calls for a fastball. Bautista is still a huge threat as evidenced by his seven home runs, however a .195 average leaves you scratching your head.
Edwin Encarnacion has definitely picked up the slack the last ten games driving in 13 and going deep 7 times, but he can’t carry the team by himself. Misunderstood centerfielder Colby Rasmus has struck out 40 times in 87 plate appearances, and newly appointed leadoff man Brett Lawrie, who appears to be in spring training mode as a result of an injury to begin the year, is barely topping .200.
The pitching and defence, two subjects that were supposed to be upgraded, are sorely lagging in the efficiency department.
Brandon Morrow, the team’s number one, is 0-2, and his ERA is 5.29. He’s already surrendered six home runs in six games.
New subs-Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio-have been pushed into fulltime roles as a result of Reyes’ injury. Izturis is batting under .200 while Bonifacio is hitting below .180 and has committed four errors in 64 chances at second base.
It’s not just the players with heightened expectations, but it’s the manager as well. John Gibbons is no doubt feeling a little uneasy at the moment. Who wouldn’t? With star power that could rival any team in the game, the first month is the exact opposite of what anyone could expect.
Their current series against Boston is now tied up 1-1, with the pitching staff surrendering 17 runs. The team looked lost at the plate during the second game and all bets are off when Ryan Dempster takes on J.A. Happ for the third and final game of the series. If the Jays manage to pull out a victory, they’ll sit 8.5 games out of first. If not it’s to 10.5 with Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners taking the mound against them on Friday at Rogers Centre.
Other statistics provided by MLB.com and Baseball Reference
Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.