It has been the same old story for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. After a positive start to the campaign, Toronto have slipped down the American League East ladder and a second year with no playoff berth looks likely. Since 1995, the Blue Jays have featured in the postseason just twice – Canadian baseball fans deserve better.
A four-match series with the Cleveland Indians this weekend offers the ideal chance for the Blue Jays to prove their worth but a series defeat seems almost inevitable. With rumours suggesting that John Gibbons will leave his post as Toronto manager at the end of the year, fans are in limbo over whether to get behind their boss or not. A whitewash defeat on home soil could be the final nail in the coffin for Gibbons.
Where Do The Blue Jays Go From Here?
Toronto fans, look away now – this isn’t going to be pretty. The Blue Jays are 63-76 for the year; a sub .500 record that puts the Canadian side fourth in the AL East. Gibbons has had two chances to prove his worth since guiding Toronto to back-to-back playoff spots but the Blue Jays are now weaker than they’ve ever been. Fans know that the end is near and their support is now firmly with the team rather than the manager.
But what is the main reason for Toronto’s woes in 2018? The salient fact is this: the Blue Jays haven’t been good enough. You can blame injuries as much as you want but this team, barring one or two outstanding exceptions, has struggled for the most part of the campaign. Mix a lack of quality and consistency in with poor coaching and lack of preparation and you have a real recipe for disaster – and disaster has struck at Rogers Centre.
KEY MAN: Aledmys Diaz. Diaz was simply sublime against the Tampa Bay Rays last time out, going 2-for-4 and scoring three home runs. He led by example for Toronto in that fixture – his early efforts were a key reason for their dominant victory. Although he can be hit and miss, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Diaz build on that performance with another influential showing throughout this series.
Indians In World Series Conversation
The American League West is not the most competitive divisions in Major League Baseball but we shouldn’t take anything away from the Cleveland Indians this year. Currently topping the division by a staggering 16 victories, Cleveland will feature in the playoffs this year and it would be foolish to write the Indians off based on their regular season exploits. This could get ugly for Toronto if the Indians are at their brilliant best.
Fortunately for the Blue Jays, this series will take place north of the border. Progressive Field has been a fortress for Cleveland this year and home-field advantage could prove decisive in the postseason. Mind you, their 35-32 road record shows that they aren’t bad away from Ohio either. Terry Francona’s side will take some stopping as they look to claim a first World Series pennant since 1948.
Yes, the Blue Jays thrashed the Tampa Bay Rays in their most recent encounter but that was only after the Rays had won the first three matches of the series. Gibbons is running out of time and Toronto fans know it. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the visitors snatch a convincing series victory this weekend; the dreaded whitewash could be on the cards but a 3-1 victory in favour of Cleveland looks more likely.
SERIES SCORE: Blue Jays 1-3 Indians