The Toronto Blue Jays have gained a reputation over the years for being big bats and questionable arms. Wins would be when the batting did enough work to avoid a loss. Losses would be when bullpen woes or an unfortunate start undid the damage that the lineup inflicted.
But that’s not what we’ve seen recently. In fact, we’re almost seeing the inverse of that through May. Throughout the month, the Jays have reflected a team that struggles at the plate but exceeds on the mound.
The batting issues with the Jays are obviously concerning. Is “issues” the right term? Has the team truly struggled, or have they faced many of the league’s great arms and suffered due to that? The answer is likely somewhere in the middle. Whether they’re facing the best or the worse, the team certainly isn’t free from criticism.
For a team that is known to light up pitchers, there’s arguably some reason to panic when it seems like something was switched off across the entire clubhouse. One can hope that whatever issue or whatever combination of issues are holding them back, can be solved.
But until then, doom and gloom are simply not the way to look at this team. There’s a part to the club right now that is holding up their side of the deal, and arguably doing so in a much better way than we’re used to.
The Jays rotation is incredibly strong right now, and it’s hard not to sit back and view it as a delicacy.
If you’re someone who enjoys pitching, the Jays have been a treat. The starters had a good April, and May have only seen them heat up as a whole. The names who struggled at the beginning – namely Yusei Kikuchi, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Jose Berrios – have found their footing in more recent appearances.
The most reassuring performance from Ryu came Friday when he went six scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds. Not only was that his first scoreless appearance, but it was the first time he earned a decision from an appearance this season.
Berrios has yet to have his best performance of the season. His latest games have not been stellar, although they have shown improvements compared to rougher appearances earlier in the season. There is also clearly room for improvement with Kikuchi, who seems to struggle to get going early in games. But, he definitely has impressive performances under his belt at this point.
There has been little room for improvement for starters Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah. The starters have done their job to a tee this year, and the latter name has continued to exceed the expectations of a 24-year-old that is only in his second year as an MLB player. If he can keep his current success going, which to be clear, would be incredibly hard to uphold, he will be one of the best starters in the league this year.
And one cannot discuss the pitching of the Jays without mentioning their stellar closer, Jordan Romano. The Markham-raised right-hander has truly been overworked due to the team’s high number of close-score games. But, when needed, he has done the job and put a bow on strong performances on the mound. Along with Adam Cimber, a reliever that certainly also deserves a shout, Romano has hit a stride throughout the month.
It’s valid to have concerns about how the Jays, as an overall team, are playing right now. A record just above .500 clearly won’t cut it, as it puts us seven games behind the top-ranked New York Yankees currently. However, it must be appreciated that the rotation is anything but a problem right now – and if that can remain and other holes can get fixed for the team, we’re looking at a pretty good club.