Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Province of Denial


The way the AL East has fallen to start the season certainly makes sense to me. The Red Sox over perform and outhit the west? Yeah, they can charge into 2nd. The Rays have a perfectly pedestrian start after losing some gimmes to Colorado? Yeah, around even in 4th sounds right.

But if the Blue Jays are gonna have most of their lineup hitting under the Mendoza line and expect anything other than last place, then I'm sorry but that's not at all how this works. The Red Sox not only have people hitting for average, but Tyler O'Neill's power-hitting as if Oli Marmol's no longer breathing down his neck. The Rays even have people like Isaac Paredes, Jose Caballero and even Yankee castoff Ben Rortvedt hitting really well right now, and have gotten 9 RBIs out of new marquee guy Yandy Diaz. 

The Jays...cannot get production out of their core right now. Vlad Jr. is slowly getting better, he's been a hero in the last few games and is slowly getting his average back up. But Bo Bichette's hitting .200, Alejandro Kirk is hitting .176, George Springer is hitting .167, Daulton Varsho, now looking like the lesser piece of his own trade deal, is hitting .133, and Kevin Kiermaier is hitting .107. And y'all freaked out when Giancarlo Stanton was hitting around there a few days ago. The bulk of this lineup isn't hitting to start the season, and that is not good for a team that has yet to truly establish itself as a perennial playoff menace. You can't be menacing when the guys you paid to stick around go 0-for-4 against off-peak Luis Castillo.

There are people on the Blue Jays who are doing well. But they are mostly pitchers. Jose Berrios is off to an excellent start, with a 1.45 ERA, a 2-0 record and 14 Ks. He's mellowed into a reliable, consistent pitcher in Toronto, and all he needed was a year or so to get used to it. Yusei Kikuchi's also off to a great start, he's got a 2.79 ERA already and is continuing his Yankee-silencing ways. And the bullpen is pretty nice, with Chad Green doing a decent Jordan Romano impression as the latter pitcher fights to return from the IL. Plus, newbies like Justin Turner and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are fitting in pretty well so far, with IKF's defense being the main takeaway despite decent contact numbers. 

The Blue Jays do not have a bad team this year, they've just started out looking like one. They need to warm up, and if there's one thing the Jays have always known how to do, it's warm up when no one's expecting it. It used to be every damned June. It could be this year. We know this team can do well, and maybe a last place start is what they need to wake up and shift into overdrive. 

Coming Tonight: An elite catcher for a team just inching up to .500.

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