Wow- a Late Season One That Isn’t an Autopsy!! Jays prime for the Playoffs…

How nice it is to be writing a blog at the end of August about what the Blue Jays should be doing to prepare for a World Series run in a month instead of what they did wrong and what they need to do in off-season to build a contender for the next year!

While my fingers are still crossed, it’s looking more and more likely our 21 years of frustration are coming to an end… at time of writing this, Saturday, Toronto is a game and a half in front of the Yankees for first place and have a full six-and-a-half games over the top, “non-wildcard” team. With our post-Tulowitzki record and the schedule today now offering us the same number of home games as road ones (following the great 8 game road trip that ended Thursday) it would seem the Jays really would have to have a collapse of epic, 2011 Red Sox-type to miss the playoffs.

That said, a little insurance couldn’t hurt. this late in the season, it’s unlikely “insurance” will come via trades – even though rumors are swirling about Craig Kimbrel being traded to an unknown team – so we have to look within the organization to bolster the roster for September.

Alex Anthopoulos has apparently said that additions will be few, but will be coming in September with the expanded rosters. Thankfully, a team that’s won 22 of its last 27 doesn’t need a huge overhaul but a few more options on the bench would be nice. Interestingly, Bluebird Banter suggested that only A-level Lansing is likely to make the minor league playoffs and play beyond the (unusually late Sep. 7) end of their regular season and that Marcus Stroman might end up there for a couple of rehabilitation starts.

While there’s not much wrong with the Blue Jays right now, I’d suggest the team rents a stretch limo on Sep. 7 and bring a few Bisons to the big leagues… starting with

Matt Hague – the International League’s leading hitter at .349 with 86 RBI in 125 games could provide a good power bat on the bench for pinch hitting and could give Edwin Encarnacion a day or two off to fully recover from his bumps and injuries before playoff time. Although EE’s 24 game hitting streak and headline-grabbing game today suggests maybe he’s already done that…

Dalton Pompey – the Mississauga kid didn’t really make a go of it at the major league level in April but he’s hit a decent .290 in buffalo with 15 stolen bases in 22 attempts and only 2 errors in 61 outfield games. His time isn’t now, but he could provide a speedy pinch runner if Dioner Navarro represents the winning run in the 9th inning, for instance…

Munenori Kawasaki – not having a stellar season even by AAA standards, but the popular little infielder has big league experience and provides a decent back-up middle infielder . Having only Tulo, Pennington and Goins on the roster who could really even play an inning or two at second or shortstop makes me a bit nervous (by the way, for those wondering, it seems Steve Tolleson has retired even though he’s still listed as a Bison)…

and some added arms for the bullpen. The pen has been exceptional lately, but it’s always good to have a few more people there lest an 18 or 20 inning game occur, or have starters knocked out early a couple of days in a row. My top choices for that would include…

Ryan Tepera – Ryan looked decent earlier in his 21 games with Toronto, since then he’s been pretty outstanding in 20 games with Buffalo, going 3-1 with two saves and a miniscule 1.09 ERA, 37 K in about 33 innings. Power and durability to add to the pen…

Steve Delebar – another pitcher with enough big league experience to handle the pressure of a playoff run, he’s been good this year in the minors with a 27:7 strikeout to walk ratio…

Chad Jenkins – being switched to a reliever, jays fans are well familiar with Chad and between 9 starts and 30 relief appearances, he’s 8-4 with an ERA under 3, somewhat like the numbers for …

Jeff Francis – the Canadian lefty is no stranger to big September games and is 8-3, 2.46 in 13 starts, 5 relief appearances at AAA. He’s only walking about one batter per seven innings, so he might be the perfect guy to be able to not only get tough left-handed hitters out in the 10th inning or make a spot start.

Sorry Aaron Loup and Joba Chamberlain. Despite your extensive MLB experience, recent lack of success in majors as well as in Buffalo would make me give them an early winter break and not roll the dice on having them in Blue Jays unis come playoff time.

****** ******

I was lucky enough to go see our Jays on the road this past Tuesday, when they came from behind to top Texas 6-5. It was a great night and I was given no hassles by anybody for sporting my Jays cap proudly. I estimate I saw another 40 to 60 Toronto fans “supportin’” , with a number of Bautista jerseys in the crowd as well as a few EE ones, and even an old Brett Lawrie one, as well as a new Tulowitzki blue jersey.

Being a Mark Buehrle start, the game went by rather quickly and I was happy to see there’s now a countdown clock in the outfield which keeps the between inning breaks to the designated 2:30. Those extra 15 or 30 seconds every half inning do add up to a nicer, speedier pace. It’s not as obvious at home watching on TV as it is in the stands. Another thing baseball has got right in the last few years.

txball06 s

Mark Buehrle speeds things up when he takes the mound!

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