Blue Jays and Challenges That Lie in Their Upcoming Schedule

The Blue Jays have a tough schedule to round out June. Losing games and series' could see the club change their tune heading to the deadline.

TORONTO, ON - September 14 After a disastrous 8th inning, the Jays dugout got very quiet including Bo Bichette (left) and George Springer (second from left) The Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Texas Rangers 9-2 in MLB baseball action at the Rogers Centre. September 14 2023 (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

On the heels of another opening series defeat, the Toronto Blue Jays continue to flirt with .500 baseball and continue to fall short of expectations.

It is the fifth series in a row where the Jays have dropped the first game and the team continues to struggle with finding consistency – either the bats show up and the pitching falters or vice versa, in that the pitching staff keeps the team alive but the bats can hardly muster any balls in play.

Under the surface, there is some positivity, as the club has won five of their last eight series dating back to mid-May, with their only faults coming at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, the Milwaukee Brewers, and a split series with the Baltimore Orioles two weeks ago.

The club piled on teams they needed to beat in the Chicago White Sox (x2) and bested the Oakland A’s as well but couldn’t take advantage of the Tigers and lost some winnable games against the Brewers – another testament to their inconsistency on both sides of the ball.

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Within a stacked AL East division, the Blue Jays can’t afford to play .500 baseball if they want to give themselves a shot at the postseason.

Blue Jays continue to falter – continue to sit below .500

While the Wild Card odds might play in their favour should they find a way to push to 90 wins, a squad that sits in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories and has struggled to get production from their relief corps has a large hill to climb.

The club has struggled as of late to get production from top names in Bo Bichette, George Springer, and Justin Turner while the club has called upon more players from triple-A to generate some offence, most notably Spencer Horwitz and Addison Barger.

That hill gets even steeper when you consider the likes of their go-to relievers are currently on the injured list in Yimi García and Jordan Romano or back in triple-A, with Erik Swanson struggling to find his 2023 form after a rough start to the 2023 campaign.

Add in multiple injuries to their starting core with Alek Manoah out for the season while Bowden Francis, Yariel Rodriguez, and Ricky Tiedemann have all landed on the IL at some point in 2024 already, and the hill continues to test the most diehard of the fanbase.

After a disappointing start to the season, the remainder of the schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Blue Jays. As per Tankathon, the Jays have the fourth-hardest remaining schedule – with the club still slated to face the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles seven more times apiece before the end of the year while sprinkling in some top clubs in a surging AL Central such as the Cleveland Guardians (x3) and the Minnesota Twins (x3), who are currently eight games above .500.

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The Jays currently ‘boast’ an 18.5% chance of making the postseason via FanGraphs and that stat has continued to fall since Opening Day.

In particular, to round out June, the Blue Jays will face the Red Sox and Guardians on two separate occasions while finishing the month at home against the Yankees before welcoming the Astros for a four-game set to begin July, a team that gave Toronto an absolute thrashing early in the season (Blanco no-no anyone?). All of these teams are above .500 at the moment, with the Red Sox the closest to the Jays with their 38-35 record.

Facing Boston and Cleveland (x2)

The Blue Jays did gain some momentum by taking the Cleveland series this past weekend, putting two wins in their pocket before welcoming the Red Sox yesterday (and losing that momentum very quickly in the form of a 7-3 drubbing).

In a unique turn of events, after playing the Guardians and Red Sox at home, the Jays hit the road to face both teams this upcoming week, another test for the Blue Jays to not only find a way to play consistently but to do so against teams that have seen some of their pitchers and almost all of their lineup in relatively short fashion.

What makes this month interesting is what is at stake for the Blue Jays, considering the club is still within the Wild Card hunt at 4.5 games back with just over six weeks to go before the trade deadline.

If the Jays face these tough teams and cannot find a way to work back toward being even on their record, there is a significant opportunity that the front office could pursue in turning some expiring contracts and one-year signed players into prospect capital, potentially spurning another rebuild with Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. slated for free agency following the 2025 season (and with no long-term deal on the apparent horizon for either player).

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Among tradeable assets, GM Ross Atkins and co. could easily flip Garcia, Yusei Kikuchi, and Danny Jansen at the deadline while also potentially moving Turner and Kevin Kiermaier to any suitable destination. The club will likely entertain offers on Bichette and Guerrero but any potential deal would go against earlier notes from Atkins, who was not entertaining offers on either player as of last week.

Losing records and rebuilding intentions can change those ideologies in a hurry similar to the Juan Soto deal a few years back but it would likely come at the hands of a Blue Jays fanbase riotting from those who expected more from a franchise that hasn’t won a postseason game since 2016.

Losing momentum could change the Blue Jays fortunes

A tough schedule between now and the trade deadline could play a large role in the direction of the club to finish the season.

Should the Jays struggle against potential playoff-bound teams, there is more of an argument to be made in terms of selling for another shot next year.

On the contrary, putting forth a solid run against winning squads who also play within the division could flip the script into the Jays being somewhat of a buyer, although that would require the bats to turn a corner while the bullpen tries to straighten things up to keep the games close when the Jays lineup figures things out every now and then.

The Jays playoff hopes likely live and die on the outcome of the next few weeks and only they have the ability to change their fortunes if they want to put a postseason win on record for the first time since Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson called Toronto home.

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