The unofficial Second Half of the Toronto Blue Jays season has commenced.
The MLB All-Star game is done and dusted and the Arizona Diamondbacks have arrived in Toronto (Friday July 14th) bookmarking the first half of the season.
It’s been a rollercoaster. That’s how some pundits have called it. It’s been full of momentous highs usually followed by frustrating lows, culminating in the current record of 50 – 41.
Their manager John Schneider says that they have the talent they need but it’s getting them ‘playing in sync’.
While that might be true, let’s look at the First Half and what can be learned from it for the Second.
If you boil that rollercoaster analogy down even further, pundits will agree that the Blue Jays’ 2022/23 season has been inconsistent so far.
Schneider has praised the talent on the roster.
Certainly, the likes of Bo Bichette, Chris Bassitt, Daulton Varsho, Yusei Kikuchi and George Springer have delivered some impressive performances but it’s not been across the board from other players who’ve appeared almost like shadows of past seasons.
Alek Manoah is one such case.
The right-handed pitcher found himself being demoted for a month to the Toronto Blue Jays minor league in the Florida Complex League.
Schneider had sent him south to get his pitch back after shooting up his ERA to 6.36 following an embarrassing delivery against the Houston Astros back in June.
Manoah returned to the squad last Friday and he showed improvement against the Detroit Tigers. Many fans are happy to see him back but it will be a matter of time before we see if he’s back to his 2021/22 levels.
Blue Jays’ performance in the American League has also been full of twists and turns.
Take the American League East specifically and you’ve got Blue Jays going 7 – 20 against all its opponents. Broken down, it looks like this:
Boston Red Sox 0 – 7 against
Baltimore Orioles (their biggest rivals) 1 – 5 against
New York Yankees 3 – 4 against
Tampa Bay Rays 3 – 4
Overall, Blue Jays have managed two five-game streaks along with their biggest streak of the season being six games.
What the Blue Jays need is momentum, perhaps an 11-game streak like they had in 2015, that’ll send the Blue Jays over the top and into the Playoffs.
Compared to other teams, the Blue Jays aren’t lacking or have a hole which needs to be filled with a star player.
However, while there might not be holes there’s certainly a lack of depth which Schneider could use the Trade Deadline to their advantage.
In other words, big pieces are less important here. Pundits focusing on the team argue that it’s more likely that rotation depth of the team will be the priority, especially with the likes of Alek Manoah and Hyun Jin Ryu returning.
However, they also argue that the team could do with having a new right-handed batter, perhaps a new player in the 26th spot, a place their rarely fill.
What happens if inconsistency returns?
We’ve discussed Alek Manoah’s problems back in June but pundits are also quietly optimistic that with his performance against the Detroit Tigers signals his return to his old self.
He helped the team dish out 8 strike outs in six innings to help the Jays beat Tigers 4 – 2 in GAME 1.
But what happens if the worst happens?
This is why they impress upon the Blue Jays to think more about rotation depth for the second half.
While there could be six healthy starters by the deadline. The depth elsewhere is thin. This will significant especially if their players who need or want to take a break throughout the second half.