Do you want to know how fast things can change in baseball? Just a couple of weeks ago, the Blue Jays were being penciled in as the winners of the American League East, and now they are barely hanging on to a wildcard. Thanks to another loss yesterday, and a Tigers win, the Tigers are one-game behind the Blue Jays for the spot in the postseason. It’s been a hellish month for the Blue Jays, who wouldn’t have been able to hit a ball off a tee. With an offense packed with so much power, this recent lifelessness at the plate has been hard to explain. Perhaps a change of scenery is in order for the Blue Jays. They’re coming off a bad showing against the Rays, which saw them lose 6-2 and then 8-1 yesterday. The Jays really need one big offensive showing, where they pour it on and score 10 or more runs. The funk has to be broken out of before they choke themselves right out of the postseason.
The good thing is that if they heat up across the final two weeks of the regular season, they will be fine and make the postseason. Believe it or not, with a strong finish they could still steal the division. They are only down by two in the AL East to the Red Sox. There are a couple of ways of looking at that if you’re a Blue Jays’ fan. After all of this they’re within striking distance of 1st place in the division. Conversely, though, all they had to be is average to be up right now. Since the start of September, Toronto has gone 3-9, including 2-7 in their last nine outings. The offense has been lifeless, scoring only 2 runs per game in their past three games. That needs to change, and it needs to change in a hurry.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. L.A. Angels
J.A. Happ (18-4, 3.33 ERA) vs Daniel Wright (0-0, 7.20 ERA)
Depending on how you look at it for the Blue Jays, J.A. Happ has been an MVP for this team. Without the production Happ has given them, you can forget about them looking at reaching the postseason. Marcus Stroman has been a bust in 2016, and with the departure of David Price in the offseason, there has been a void in the rotation. Happ has filled that void for the Jays. But again, you have to look at this through two different lenses. If Stroman had been pitching up to his potential this season, and you throw in Happ pitching like he has been, the question of the Blue Jays reaching the postseason probably wouldn’t be a question at all. Thinking of it like that can be frustrating for the faithful followers of the Blue Jays.
For the Angels, 2016 has been a total wash. The only thing the Angels are looking forward to is the end of Albert Pujols’ contract, which expires all the way in 2022. Pujols refused to sign a five-year deal from any suitors, which is looking like an awful end of the deal for the Angels now. The Cardinals and Marlins, who were also interested, should be sending a thank you basket to the Angels. The Angels have failed in a big way this season, entering tonight with a record of 63-82. They barely missed out on the postseason a year ago, and there were a lot of people expecting them to be a bad team in 2016, but perhaps not this bad.
The pitching in Anaheim certainly needs some work in the offseason. Daniel Wright started the season with Cincinnati, but was traded to the Angels and spent time in the minors before the other day. In his first start as a starter at the professional level since June 13th, Wright was hit for 4 runs and 6 hits in five innings on the hump. Between the Reds and Angels, Wright owns a 7.20 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. This has to be the game that the Blue Jays explode for a big number at the plate, right? If they can’t pummel a bad Angels team, with an inexperienced pitcher on the mound tonight, their problems are going to mount even deeper. However, I think they show up tonight and show the world that they aren’t ready to go quietly.
PICK: BLUE JAYS -1.5 (+100)