Staff ace Aaron Sanchez is set to miss at least one more start for the Toronto Blue Jays after splitting a fingernail in his April 30th outing.
Will this season’s version of the Toronto Blue Jays make it to the postseason or possibly a third consecutive American League Championship Series? Probably not. But since losing some of their best players, the club has shown a little fight and are in the midst of a three game winning streak.
Aaron Sanchez initially went on the DL with a blister. Now, he has a split fingernail on his throwing hand and will return there for another stint. Despite this and the fact Silver Slugger Josh Donaldson has been on the DL since April 14, J.A. Happ shortly thereafter, followed by Troy Tulowitzki, things could be a lot more dire.
Those four players are a huge reason why the Blue Jays saw the success they did in 2016. But it feels like when all four were healthy, Toronto truly struggled even more, starting the season 1-9 over their first ten contests. Since that brutal start, the Jays are 7-8 and 5-5 over their last ten.
Against the New York Yankees in their series opener in the Bronx on Monday, Toronto got a solid outing from Marco Estrada en route to a 7-1 victory. Also in that game, some lesser known bats came up big, including Ryan Goins providing a 1-for-3 night with a home run and four RBI.
Jose Bautista started to heat up too, coming off a 2-for-4 night in which he hit his second home run of the season and reached base safely three times. Even a has-been like Mat Latos has picked up the slack with the absence of Sanchez and Happ in the rotation. He’s posted a 3.27 ERA over two outings, the latter of which was a zero earned run quality start versus the Cardinals.
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Estrada, Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano are certainly doing their part as well to get the Blue Jays out of their slump. Stro Show already has two complete games in April, including a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 IP over his last two starts.
Liriano, since getting blown up in his first outing of the year against Tampa Bay, has found his groove once again. Jarrod Saltalamacchia started at catcher in outing number one. He has since been designated for assignment by the Jays and Russell Martin went back to being Liriano’s man behind the dish.
His guidance has helped drop Liriano’s ERA from 135.00 after one start down to a very respectable 3.97 heading into his sixth probable start and what will be his third this season versus the Rays. On April 29, the 33-year-old southpaw allowed only one earned run to Tampa over five frames of four-hit ball, striking out six.
Aaron Sanchez was Toronto’s best pitcher in 2016 and looks to be an ace-in-the-making. The club should feel fortunate he’s dealing with something menial and frustrating like blisters and brittle finger nails. These are minor setbacks. Things could be much worse as far as injuries go.
For now, the Toronto Blue Jays are starting to come together. Presently eight games back of the first place Orioles, a few winning streaks could have them back in a race for the division.
On two occasions in 2016, Toronto won 11 games straight. They have an uphill battle. Getting their big bats arms healthy would make for a formidable way to begin any AL East division quests.