It was a wild, bumpy, exciting, agonizing, and all around great ride, but it’s time to call a spade a spade and admit it – this season is over.
Sitting five games back of the second wild card with 12 to play, the Jays need not one, not two, but three miracles to make the postseason. First they need to finish strong – insanely, incredibly strong – along the lines of 11-1 or 12-0. Then they need the Royals to have a terrible finish, and they also need the Mariners to have a similarly terrible finish. The odds of that happening are slim to none.
But that doesn’t mean we should just tune out. We should all be thankful for the season that Gibbons and co. have given us. Meaningful September baseball for the first time since 2000 is a huge step forward, and a nice foundation has been laid for a truly competitive 2015. Instead of being angry that the team fell short, fans should be celebrating a great turnaround season and some unexpected late season drama.
That doesn’t mean we can’t want something, however. Below are five things I would love to see in the season’s final 12 games:
1. Colby Rasmus playing every day
The writing is on the wall for Rasmus. After three-and-a-half up-and-down seasons in Toronto it is obvious that Colby will not be brought back for 2015 and beyond. He arrived with much fanfare but never seemed to reach his full potential here, and now finds himself benched in favour of Kevin Pillar. But despite his shortcomings as a player, fans have grown fond of Rasmus, with his Southern quirks and his love of chicken dogs. Even though he will likely be suiting up in a different uniform next year, the Jays should let him finish out 2014 manning centrefield in Toronto, not rooted to the bench.
2. Daniel Norris making a start
I really want to see Aaron Sanchez get a chance at starting a game, but that is unrealistic seeing as how he has been in the bullpen for months. To be honest, having Norris make a start is also unrealistic for the same reasons, but his last start came much more recently so stretching him out might be less of an issue. He has only appeared in 3 games since his promotion in September, and as a much hyped prospect I’d love to see him pitch multiple innings to see what he can do. If it means shutting down Marcus Stroman a start early, I’m all for it.
3. Dalton Pompey getting a start or two
Similar to Norris, Pompey was called up in September and has barely played. With the Jays on the verge of being eliminated I’d love to see him in the outfield ahead of Pillar or Gose, at least once, and preferably at home. Obviously decisions for 2015 won’t be made based on a few games, but it would be nice to see if he can offer more than Pillar or Gose.
4. Brandon Morrow closing games
While it seems obvious that Rasmus won’t be back next year, there are also many indications that Casey Janssen will also be a member of a new team. His critical comments at the trade deadline, his drop in performance in the second half, and the fact that Sanchez was given a few save opportunities ahead of Janssen all seem to point Casey towards the door. If so, the Jays will be looking for a new closer, and with Sanchez hopefully making the move to the rotation, Morrow might be a decent candidate if he’s brought back. He is a power arm who has done it before, so why not give him a look to close out the season? I personally think his control is too erratic to be effective, but if he’s in the mix I say throw him to the wolves.
5. Anthony Gose batting in the leadoff spot
I’ll be honest: this seems like an all-around bad idea. Gose really struggles at the plate, and there are days when it seems he can’t hit the ball to save his life. But he has drawn walks at a much higher rate than Reyes this season (9.8% of plate appearances vs. 6.3% for Reyes) and he has great speed. Reyes at times has looked a little too swing happy and shown little patience. Melky Cabrera was a great #2 man in the order, but on the chance that he leaves via free agency, the Jays should at least toy with the idea of going Gose, Reyes, Bautista at the top – at least for a few games in September.