Looking back on the Blue Jays’ season
By Brendan Makay, Contributor
The Toronto Blue Jays had to watch as their playoff hopes unceremoniously slipped away this year. With both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox winning their games on the last day of the season, any chance of the Jays making the playoffs was lost.
However, the Jays’ valiant attempt to make the playoffs this season was not for nothing.
The bright side
They showed massive strides on both sides of the ball as their runs per game went up this season and their runs against per game dropped from last year’s totals. Jays fans got to see their young players make major improvements in their games. Guys like Robbie Ray had incredible seasons. In fact, Ray’s should’ve been good enough to earn him the American League Cy Young award which goes to the pitcher voted best in the American League.
Ray’s Cy Young chances aren’t the only awards Jays players should be seeing. They will undoubtedly have some silver sluggers. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will have some MVP votes, but the odds-on favourite to win that award is the two-way anomaly Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.
If the potential of the players alone wasn’t enough to inspire confidence in the fans, then the belief in the front office’s decision making should be. They seem to be making all the right decisions. They traded for the aforementioned Ray and signed Marcus Semien in the offseason, who had a phenomenal season, hitting 45 home runs while still also having a 334 on base percentage. Fans also got to witness the emergence of Alex Manoah who burst onto the scene with his brash character. Manoah did back up his confidence on the mound though, where he posted a 3.22 earned-runs average with 111.2 innings pitched and 127 strikeouts all while posting a 9-2 record.
Next year and beyond
As far as next season goes, it will be interesting to see the team that will be fielded compared to the current one.
The biggest questions are around if Ray and Semien will be re-signed. They’re both due massive pay bumps and so it’s still to be determined if the Jays can fit both or even one into their future plans money wise.
Another area of persistent question marks throughout the season was around manager Charlie Montoyo. There was a vocal group of people that believed he should be fired during the season and an even more vocal group that said he should not return as the manager next year. Despite all the people calling for his job, it was confirmed that he and his staff will be coming back to lead the Jays next season.
Many, myself included, took issue with his sometimes-calm demeanour at times when it looked like the team needed a kick in the butt to get going. As a person watching, one instance that really rubbed me the wrong way was when Baltimore Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde was chirping at the Jays’ Ray while he was on the mound and Montoyo didn’t stand up for his pitcher. Doing so is just not in Montoyo’s personality, and it didn’t seem to bug the front office enough to make the change. It’s still to be seen if Montoyo can lead his team to where they want to go.
Altogether, this is a team that has shown plenty of upside. It’s the most exciting the team has been since it was making deep playoffs runs with Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. As bittersweet as the Jays’ ending was this season, there’s still a lot of potential, and finishing such a competitive race is a great experience for the players.