You Can Feel The Momentum

It’s hard to quantify the emotional feeling of momentum. You can gain it or lose it for various reasons that are hard to explain. Does a player suddenly go on a streak because they learned something during batting practice? Or was it a steak made just the way they like it the night of a game that put them in the right mood and gave them just a bit of a better eye for the ball at the plate?

You can’t put into factual numbers how momentum works or is in play on an emotional level (now watch someone reply with a stat that is actually able to put this in numbers, cause, you know, baseball). But, what we do know is that momentum exists and is real.

I can’t put myself in the shoes of the Toronto Blue Jays and tell you what level of momentum they have. But, I can say this: They have a lot.

The Toronto Blue Jays are currently on what feels like an unreal run. The team is on an eight-game winning streak that has put them at an impressive 30-20. To think that before this run, they were just hardly staying afloat above .500. They’re still five games off the strong New York Yankees, but we’re too early in the year to even be discussing that.

As I wrote before – it was almost hard to believe – but the Jays had a batting issue. The starting rotation had done its job, and it was the team’s performances at the play that let them down somewhat. There are no real notes for the Jays rotation currently (except one thing that we’ll get to in a moment), and the focus remained on how the batting would improve.

The batting woes have begun to change, and some of the more unlikely names have emerged in headlines because of it. Notably, interchangeable catchers Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk have had breakout performances as of late and impressed critics.

Jansen has shown unusual improvement at the plate compared to previous years as a pro. It’s progress that has people wondering when things will change. “The big question is whether Jansen can maintain this pace, or anything remotely close to it,” said The Star’s Gregor Chisholm.

Kirk has proven to be a big bat that has also impressed. He notably hit two home runs in one game against the Chicago White Sox, making him a fundamental part of their 5-6 win Tuesday. Similar to Jansen, the question going forward will be what level of recent success can be actually maintained, and what amount is just a brief jolt in the arm that we’re seeing.

Eight in a row is glamorous on paper, but the wins haven’t always been easy. Some have been ugly, and many have been comebacks. So many of them have been close. Since the start of this run, five games have been won with a one-run differential between the two teams. My goodness. The close wins have become a reputation for the team.

That reflects their ability to perform in the clutch, but it’s also a sobering reminder that this team isn’t getting ahead as often as most successful teams. A win with a big or small margin all counts the same in the standings, but it’s tiring for the team and a sign that the team is often just a few plays away from losing in many of their successful outings. Personally, I view this as a sign that the batting still has room to improve. It’s hard to take these issues out on the bullpen when they are often allowing just a few runs.

Of course, there will always be things to worry about with the pitching. Atop the list may be the sole dent in the team’s pitching rotation currently: Ryu Hyun-jin. The leftie has patched up his rough-around-the-edges game as of late, but continues to face struggles out of his control.

After getting taken out of a game early in two consecutive instances, Ryu was put on the injured list for the second time this year. Injuries for Ryu are arguably worse than seeing him get lit up on the mound. When he was bad, it was of course argued that he can improve. There’s not much control that Ryu has over his own fate when he’s battling his own body.

Overall, the momentum of the Jays right now is undeniable. But like the streaks of Jansen and Kirk, or like the situation of Ryu’s injury, two questions are the main focus right now – how long can this go on for, and what will things be like after then?

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