The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays: Long Day’s Journey Into October
‘Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.’ – Winston Churchill (And ain’t that the truth)
Side note: this article isn't my magnum opus, but let's begin.
The baseball season is a long onerous ride for all people involved from the players to their families and, of course, to the fans too. But everyone involved is 'in it to win it' (as a wise old poker player once told me) – either now, or for the near future. Some MLB ball clubs know where they stand, and are building for the tomorrow, which is always not too far away, umm, yeah, hate to say it, but like the New York Yankees who, Jays fans, are young and will be an AL East imposing team sooner than you think. And other teams know the time line painted around the baseball diamond to their success is a quick 90-foot dash from one bag to the other, and, yes – that dash to home is where this Toronto Blue Jays team find themselves heading into the 2017 season.
There is a small ‘strike zone’ of opportunity for the Jays this year, and, yes, the bigger ‘strike zone’ might have been the 2015 season (it just wasn’t meant to be), but – don’t forget (not that you have) that a ‘zone’ for success still exists today. The thing is, as you know, that many 'baseball' things have to go right in order to achieve the unyielding Golden Flags dream in October.
Last year, the Jays came out of the old SkyDome gates slumping their way at the plate and fighting against the ropes pretty much until that last series in Boston, but they did it, and earned their right to play the ‘Black and Orange Clowns’ from Baltimore in the Wild Card game. This is why, I believe, this famous quote by the great strong, intelligent drunkard Churchill works so well when thinking about how to be successful in the upcoming season. The Jays are going to streak in both directions this season, be hot in some months at the plate, and cold in others, but a whole lot of right needs to happen in order for any team to have that sought after October parade.
It’s no secret that the Jays have one of the top 5 pitching rotations in all of baseball as Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com has the Birds rotation as the fifth best in the MLB in his latest article ‘Ranking top 5 pitching rotations in MLB’. However, there is, ahh, umm, one problem – who’s the sixth man? Mike Bolsinger? Mat Latos? The Jays front 5 are a strong foundation, but ‘if’ (and you should always be prepared for the ‘ifs’ in life and in baseball too) one of either Estrada, Happ, Stroman, Liriano, and/or Sanchez go down for some time with an injury this could most definitely be a concern, and IS one for the Toronto FO – believe me.
Andrew Stoeten wrote a great analytics piece reflecting and making sense of the FanGraphs projections, which ranks the Blue Jays starting rotation at 16th best in baseball – if you haven’t read it yet, you should do so and find out why it DOES make sense.
Now listen ‘Zealots’ – this is not a ‘poo hoo hoo’ piece heading into the season, but more of a realistic, ‘Hey, it’s a long season, brace yourself, shit’s going to be good, and shit’s going to be bad – but don’t ever lose your enthusiasm – so #letsrise’ – kind of piece I’m writing here.
So what has to go right in order for the Blue Birds to soar high into October? It’s simple (and this is the case for every team in the League – minus Cleveland who just win no matter how many starting pitchers go down in their long journey to October) - stay healthy.
The quick 2017 Blue Birds Season Breakdown
(Let's huddle around and look at the obvious)
The starting 5 have to stay healthy and be steady as they move, groove, and shimmy their way through the long days journey into October.
Side note: My yankee pal 'on the Rhode' over at South of the Six wrote a ‘Bold’ predictions piece for the Jays where he discusses the awesome of Stroman and Sanchez, and I have to agree. I think that Stroman and Sanchez are going to dominate this year (especially Stroman) – I’ve mentioned this before, but a kid like that has an energy that does not accept failure – he will #rise.
Steve Pearce is a nice addition and needs to get the nod from the skip to play first base more than Justin Smoak.
Kendrys Morales has to take advantage of the hitter friendly SkyDome and make fans ‘kind of’ forget about Edwin. And it’s great that he is a switch-hitter too, Lord knows we need an effective one of those in the batting lineup.
Jose Bautista needs to bounce back and, well, stay healthy. Wouldn’t it be nice to see 30 plus round trips and 100 plus RBIs? Ah, fuck yeah, of course, it would – so’ Jose! Jose! Jose! Jose!’ to #letsrise into October.
Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis need to stay healthy. Period.
Josh Donaldson needs to stay healthy. Period.
Russell Martin can’t pass out in the shower. Period.
The LF situation - let's insert an 'ahh, geez, followed by a sigh'. But who knows what ShapIro and Atkins might do to fix this situation. Apparently in a recent interview, ShapIro said he loves Zeke's analytics, so maybe he's in on a 'know' that doesn't have him saying 'NO!' One little Zeke spark in October isn’t going to translate to 6-months of success at the plate during the long day’s journey into October, is it? We shall see Bird nation - I'd love to see him make Blue Bird writers type, huh? Zeke can hit. And who knows, Upton has been hitting the ball pretty hard lately in Dunedin - so maybe this can work, hmm, maybe - probably not great, but good enough?
Does Joe Biagini need to shine in the pen? Absolutely, like a God damn Jimmy Fallon High-Five kind of star - like the 'Original G' that he is (should I delete that, umm, no, I'm gonna leave that in).
And, of course, finally, the 25-man roster can’t lose their enthusiasm when nothing is going right and they feel like they can’t throw the ball, hit the ball, or catch the ball.
In the end, a whole lot needs to go right, and that ‘lot’, for most teams, is stay healthy. Either way, we are at the starting gate fans, and the engines are revving, and the stadiums are close to opening their gates – so get ready Canada, it’s a long day’s journey into October and it begins April 3rd at 3:05 in Baltimore, so let’s rise nation – the long wait is over.