I get a kick out of all the experts claiming to be surprised by the play of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays. If you’ve been following this blog, this doesn’t come as a surprise. This team is almost the same as the 2013 version. As of June 2, Toronto has a 3 1/2 game lead in the American League East. This time last year, the Blue Jays were in last place, 10 1/2 behind Boston. Same team, different result. Why is that?
I’ve said if the team stays healthy for the whole year, they can go far. Time spent on the disabled list this season has been kept to a minimum. There are a few players on the DL with long-term injuries: pitchers Brandon Morrow and Sergio Santos, outfielder Colby Rasmus, and infielder Maicer Izturis. But Morrow and Rasmus are the only key players that are missing from the roster. For the most part, the regulars have been able to stay healthy and contribute. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are hitting home runs at a record pace, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera are getting on base, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind are getting big hits at the right time.
Pitching has been excellent too. Mark Buehrle is acting like the ace he was when he was with the White Sox, Drew Hutchison has been a pleasant surprise to the rotation, and the bullpen is doing its job with Casey Janssen leading the way as closer. The Blue Jays are also getting contributions from their role players like Anthony Gose, Josh Thole, and Juan Francisco. No longer is John Gibbons writing out a number of different line ups each and every night. But more importantly, there seems to be a bond developing with the players on the roster. Everyone seems to have fun playing together and they are helping pick each other up whenever chips are down.
As I mentioned, we are only in the month of June. The other teams in the division are struggling, especially the Boston Red Sox who, like the Blue Jays, are fielding the same team as the one that won the World Series. But it won’t be long until they finally get their house in order. They will have a say as to who gets to fly the AL East flag on September 28. I have no doubt that the Blue Jays will respond and come out on top.