Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos rolled the dice before the MLB trade deadline, and the returns have thus far been decidedly positive. After dealing some of the club's best prospects for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and ace southpaw David Price, the Blue Jays are looking like legitimate World Series contenders.
No MLB team has a longer playoff drought than the Blue Jays, but the organization could be on their way to reaching the postseason. Toronto has a 12-1 record since trading for Tulowitzki, and they’ve closed the gap between themselves and the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East. With just a 1.5-game deficit in the division to go along with sole possession of the first wild-card spot, the Blue Jays are tied with the Kansas City Royals as the favorites to win the 2015 World Series.
Even as the Blue Jays hovered around .500 for much of the season, they still were able to hit. With the shortstop upgrade, Toronto has put together the best offense in the Majors (597 runs). Three power hitters have stood out this season for John Gibbons' squad, and they are now finding their way into the spotlight.
Josh Donaldson is probably Mike Trout’s biggest competition for the AL MVP award, and he leads a lineup that is first in the Majors in slugging percentage (.445). Donaldson ranks third in MLB with 31 home runs, and has received help from Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who have combined to hit 47 long balls. Only the Houston Astros have hit more home runs.
"Incredible," pitcher Marco Estrada said on Sunday, following the team’s three-game sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx. "It's been a great ride. We've had a tremendous team this whole year and obviously just got a little better. Adding a few pieces helped a lot. Our confidence is pretty high and we're all enjoying the run."
Estrada tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings on Sunday, continuing a string of strong pitching performances for the team. While Toronto’s pitching kept them from seizing control of the AL East in the first four months of the season, the addition of Price seems to have rejuvenated the Blue Jays’ staff.
Price has been nearly unhittable in his two starts with Toronto, allowing just one run and 11 base runners in 15 innings, striking out 18 batters. But the rest of the rotation has been almost as good, allowing two runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. The Yankees only scored one run in their three-game set against the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays since acquiring David Price July 30 W-L: 10-1 (1st in MLB) ERA: 2.03 (1st) Bullpen ERA: 1.78 (1st) WHIP: 0.81 (1st)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 10, 2015
Toronto follows up their sweep of the Yankees with a three-game series with the last-place Oakland Athletics, but the team has some big games upcoming. The Blue Jays close out their series with Oakland on Thursday against Sonny Gray, who is one of the top candidates for the AL Cy Young award. On Friday, Toronto will begin another series with the Yankees, who despite their struggles to score runs against the Jays, are still the second best run-scoring team in baseball.
It’s been 22 years since Toronto last made the playoffs. The Seattle Mariners have the second-longest drought, failing to reach the postseason since 2001.
Data Curated by pointafter.com