Heading into Thursday night, the Toronto Blue Jays had won seven games in a row and 10 of their last 11, pulling within a game and a half of the New York Yankees for the second Wild Card berth in the American League.
The Jays have overcome injuries, playing home games in two different countries, and the toughest division in baseball to put themselves in the mix for the playoffs.
Offensively, the Jays have everything.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. is one of the frontrunners in the AL MVP race, Marcus Semien is chasing the single-season record for home runs by a second baseman, and when George Springer has been healthy, he’s been incredibly impactful.
Toronto leads the AL in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS, while ranking in the top five in batting average, on-base percentage, and RBI.
But, they should be seven games better based on their Pythagorean W-L record, which factors in runs scored and runs allowed.
While the Jays have very solid pitching numbers overall, they haven’t gotten great starting pitching. Robbie Ray has been their best, going 11-5 with a 2.60 ERA.
Just imagine where Toronto might be, had they held on to a pair of MLBbros who were just starting to come into their own.
Marcus Stroman and Tai Walker have been holding it down all season in Queens; keeping the New York Mets in contention for the National League East while staff ace Jacob deGrom has battled injuries all season long.
But from 2014-19, Marcus Stroman was a member of the Blue Jays, finishing in the top 10 in AL Cy Young voting in 2017 and making the All-Star team in 2019.
Walker joined Toronto’s staff during 2020’s shortened-season, going 2-1, with a 1.37 ERA in six starts.
Stroman was traded during his All-Star campaign and Walker wasn’t offered a contract last offseason.
The Stro Show could still be headlining in Toronto. Stroman’s 9-12 record hasn’t reflected just how good he’s been for the Mets.
New York has only provided him with an average of 3.78 runs when he takes the hill.
It’s lucky to be that high, considering the Mets have scored two runs or less in 15 of his 29 starts, including one or less 10 times.
Stroman has gotten a total of 14 runs from his offense in his 12 losses.
In contrast, the Blue Jays have scored two runs or less as a team only 20 times all season.
Stroman also still ranks in the top ten in ERA in the National League (2.93) and gives the Mets Gold Glove-caliber defense.
No doubt that he could have picked up a few more wins wearing his old powder blues.
Tai Walker made his first All-Star team this season, as he got off to a 7-3 start, but has struggled during the second half of the season. Walker hasn’t won a game since he beat the Yankees on July 3.
But run support has been an issue for him as well. In 13 of his 25 starts, the Mets have put of three or fewer runs. Just like with Stroman, more often than not, his teammates have given him below average support.
Both Stroman and Walker would likely have better numbers had Toronto held on to them. But they didn’t.
Maybe the Blue Jays have enough to keep pushing and make it back to the playoffs.
However, if they don’t, they can look about 500 miles to the southeast and find what they were missing.
“They came out attacking early, and then coupled with my command not being there, not being great tonight, that was the result tonight,” said Gray who struggled for his second start in a row.
Gray is going to have to take his lumps and get acclimated to the Bigs during the final month of his 2021 season.
He had six consecutive starts pitching at least five innings before that streak was snapped in last Monday’s start against the Phillies. The young hurler only lasted four innings and gave up seven runs — six of which were earned— and struck out four.
After going through a few post All-Star Game struggles, “Fly High” Taijuan Walker seemed to be rounding his way back into form after a successful August. However, his first start of September showed otherwise.
He gave up a leadoff home run on a 3-1 pitch. Then, later on that inning Walker would give up a two-run home run to #HighFive member Josh Bell which cut the lead to 4-3.
Bell would finish the game 1-for-2 at the plate drawing two walks and collecting two RBI. Over his last seven games the switch hitting first baseman has a .308 average, a .419 on base percentage, three RBI and five walks.
Walker would settle down as he held the Nats off the scoreboard through four innings but would give up three runs in the fifth inning, including four singles, a wild pitch, and a walk to Josh Bell.
Walker lasted 4.1 innings, giving up the two home runs, striking out six batters and giving up six hits and six runs.
The Mets would end up winning the game 13-6 and took three out of four games against the Nationals.
This recent burst has elevated the Mets to just 3.5 games back of the second National League wild card spot, but time is running out.
Both Walker and Gray will look to bounce back during their starts next weekend.
Gray will lead his Nationals into Pittsburgh for a game against the Pirates while Walker will get another taste of the Subway Series as his Mets take on the Yankees.
It’s been a rollercoaster season for New York Mets outfielder Dominic Smith. He has had some high and low points to say the least. But Smith is still a player that the Mets are high on and he can still add value to the team.
At the start of the season, Smith was an everyday starter and was becoming a valuable piece to the team.
“Hitting sliders is just something that I did when I was playing well,” Smith told the New York Post. “Just getting back to that felt good.”
That would be the go ahead run as the Mets went on to win the game.
It was a pleasant sight to see Smith come through in a big way to help his team. His 11 home runs are tied for a career-best and his 55 RBI are a career-best as well.
Mets manager Luis Rojas has noticed that Smith has taken advantage of his time on the bench.
“I’m very proud that he’s taken this diminished playing time to working,” Rojas said. “He’s been in the cage, he’s been working on himself and trying to find himself. And when a guy does that, and contributes for the team in a big situation, it just tells you the discipline that he has.”
Smith wants to better himself as a player and it’s good that he’s putting in the extra work.
And though he’s no longer an everyday starter, he continues to stay ready for his number to be called.
“I think with the time off, he’s taken advantage to work on some things,” Rojas said.
When looking at the brighter side of things, Smith has had his struggles throughout the season, but he’s still putting up career-best numbers.
There’s no question that Smith has shown improvement since his first year in 2017. Despite the struggles, Smith has put the work in to make sure he can remain a productive player.
We get it, slumps happen, but it’s how you bounce back from those slumps and Smith is heading in the right direction as the season is coming to an end.
With the work that he’s putting in, Smith will find himself in a good position as his career carries on.
Now let’s take time our to wish our MLBbro and his family all the best as he was placed on the bereavement list on September 3rd.
Dominic Smith has been placed on the bereavement list. He'll be off the roster tonight, opening the spot for the Mets to activate Brad Hand.
Newly-minted Los Angeles Laker Russell Westbrook was hanging out with injured LA Dodgers star Mookie Betts on Sunday, prior to a game at Dodger Stadium that the New York Mets won 7-2 behind 6 masterful innings from Marcus Stroman.