04/09/19 Toronto- Three strikes, you’re out!
Thats been a common phrase found in blue jays games so far in 2019 as Toronto has sputtered to a 3-8 start. The Blue Jays have been both elite, and abysmal when it comes to strikeouts. Defensively? They lead the league in K’s as their starting rotation has been dominant and have thrown 111 strikeouts through 11 games . On the other side however the Jays are dead last in hitting success, striking out themselves 119 times through the same timeframe.
Starting with the pitchers, the rotation is headlined by Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Matt Shoemaker. Three pitchers who are established major league players, and two of whom have been selected for post-season awards in the past. The rotation is one of the only spots that remains fairly intact from the Jay’s winning days, and could be the only true major league part of their current roster. The starting rotation ranks fourth in MLB in ERA, while the bullpen pulls them up to third. The success of the pitching and defense has meant the Jays have a chance in every game, despite the fact they are seemingly unable to hit the ball.
A quick look at the lineup, it is easy to see where the batting problems lie. The core of the team is all struggling at the plate,. Brandon Drury leads the American League with 17 strikeouts, newly extended contract Randal Grichuk is not far behind with 14 and Justin Smoak, Lourdes Gouriell Jr and Teoscar Hernandez all have swung out nine times. That means nearly have of the lineup sit in the bottom half of success at the plate, and that has led the blue jays to the league’s worst offense thus far in 2019. The struggles could be attributed to a few things. First of all, there’s a new hitting coach so some players may be having trouble adjusting, there is also the possibility that players feel they need to make something substantial happen every time they are at the plate, rather than simply getting on base.
Toronto was expected to struggle this season since the team is rebuilding, and is made up of largely inexperienced personnel. There is hope however, with offensive catalyst Vladimir Guerrero Jr expected to be called up fairly soon. The 20 year-old will provide a much needed boost to the Blue Jays bats.
The pitching has been a pleasant surprise, and has left fans with a sliver of hope that the jays could win on any day, but if they can’t get any offense; those wins will continue to be few and far between.
The Jays have been at two extreme ends of the spectrum in 2019, something rarely seen in professional sports. But the blue jays early season struggles are not something new, as the Toronto based club has only played above .500 baseball once in the last six seasons.