Yes, I know. Three games and four days is probably a little early – OK, a lot early – to extrapolate anything especially meaningful about a six month season.
But it’s April, and the Jays are back. And we’ve missed them so much, we’ve forgotten all about our annual pledge not to live and die with April baseball. So here’s 9 premature takeaways from the Blue Jays’ up-and-down first week.
1. They’re not going to lose 162 games
2. Kevin Pillar’s glove is still a black hole where homers go to die
And Manny Machado became the latest opposing hitter to find that out the hard way Wednesday night, as Pillar’s face and the centerfield fence got officially reacquainted.
3. Someone needs to introduce Pillar to a thing called pine tar
Somehow, a guy who has no trouble holding onto the ball even when he’s running full speed into the outfield wall has been having an inordinate amount of trouble holding onto his bat. Which just means fans need to pay even more attention than usual when Pillar’s up to bat this year.
4. Fans had better stock up on antacids
Word is, Roberto Osuna’s rehab is going well, and the Jays closer is on track to come off the disabled list in time for the team’s home opener on Tuesday. Which is a good thing, because without him, the bullpen is a real rollercoaster. And not one of the fun ones, either. One of the rickety, I’m-having-second-thoughts-about-signing-this-waiver ones.
5. That Kendrys Morales signing doesn’t look half bad
No one wanted to see Edwin go (well, except maybe Rogers’ accountants). But the Jays’ key offseason acquisition did a pretty good Encarnacion impression Thursday night slugging a game-winning grand slam. The only thing missing was the parrot.
— Steven #LetsRise (@stv798) April 7, 2017
6. Marcus Stroman is ready to become The Guy
Three games into the season is way too early for a team to need a stopper, but that’s exactly what Stroman was for the Jays on Thursday, snapping the team’s two-game losing streak. If the would-be ace (and last month’s World Baseball Classic MVP) can improve on his 9-10 record and 4.37 ERA last season, the AL’s best rotation in 2016 stands to get even more dangerous.
7. Rumours of Jose Bautista’s defensive decline may have been greatly exaggerated
Supposedly, one of the reasons the Jays waited so long to re-sign the fan favourite slugger was because his defense in right had slipped. So how does Bautista respond? With a great diving catch in Game #1 to send things to extra innings. Now Joey Bats just needs to get that bat of his going.
8. This team is going to test your patience
Every team gets to scrub the slate clean and start over fresh on Opening Day. But it didn’t take long before two of the Jays’ biggest obstacles to postseason glory this year (and seemingly every year) reared their heads: how to score without relying on the home run and bullpen depth. Luckily, they’ve still got another 159 games left to figure it out.
9. This game has a strange sense of humour
How’s this for déjà vu? Somehow, Game 1 for the Orioles and Jays in 2017 managed to perfectly mirror Game 163 last year – only this time, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter remembered to bring in his All-Star closer Zach Britton to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game, and it was the Orioles hitting the 11th inning walk-off. Maybe we are living in the Matrix after all.