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The Toronto Blue Jays Are Back From The Dead

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays

Coming into the 2017 season, despite losing Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians, the Toronto Blue Jays were expected to contend for a division title once again.

And then the season started. The year opened with Toronto placing their closer Roberto Osuna on the disabled list with cervical spasms. On April 9, they put JP Howell on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder. On April 14, they put the 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson on the disabled list with a strained right calf. On April 16, they put the 2016 ERA leader Aaron Sanchez on the disabled list with a blister. On April 18, they put 20-game winner JA Happ on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation.

On April 22, they put five-time All Star Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. On May 8, they put four-time All Star Russell Martin on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his left shoulder. Kendrys Morales recently missed a couple of games with a left hamstring injury. And on May 11, they placed Francisco Liriano on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. Other than that, things have been great!

On April 28, the Blue Jays lost their third consecutive game to fall to 6-17 on the year, nine games back of first place. They looked dead, buried, done, finished. Since that day, though, they’re tied with the Astros for the best record in the majors (11-4). Over the weekend, the Jays completed a four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners to win their fifth straight game, capped off with a walk-off bomb by Kevin Pillar, who has been the only guy in that lineup who’s been consistently good all year long.

However, over this recent stretch where the team has finally woken up, they’ve had multiple contributors. Perhaps the most unsung hero of the team this year has been Ezequiel Carrera, who came into 2017 as a career .255 hitter with a .665 OPS in 877 at-bats over six big league seasons. This year, he’s hitting .327 with an .806 OPS in 33 games. Over the Jays’ 15-game resurgence here, Carrera’s hitting a team-leading .359 with a .913 OPS. Justin Smoak has been just as good over this stretch, too. Carrera, Smoak, Pillar, Morales and Steve Pearce have combined to hit .303 with an .890 OPS over this 11-4 run for Toronto.

Notice, no mention of Jose Bautista to this point. He’s played in all 38 games for Toronto this season, but he’s hitting a weak .182 with a .642 OPS, and now the lack of interest he received as a free agent this past winter is starting to make a whole lot more sense. He only has five homers this season, although three of them have come in the last five games, so maybe this is where he turns the corner? But he also only has four hits total over those five games, so maybe not.

And while all of this is certainly nice to see if you’re a Blue Jays fan, they’ve still got a long way to go before they’re officially “back”. They’re back in the sense that you don’t lick your chops when you see the Blue Jays coming up on your schedule anymore, but they’re not back in the sense that they’re threatening for first place just yet.

Regardless, this run has been exactly what they’ve needed so not to fall completely out of contention before Memorial Day, but they’re playing in arguably the best division in baseball. At 17-21, there’s still quite the uphill battle ahead, especially with three potential playoff teams in their own division who are currently ahead of them in the standings. We’ll see, though. They’re playing really well right now, and they’re only going to get better once they get everybody back healthy.

UPDATE: The Blue Jays just put Steve Pearce on the DL with a calf injury. Can’t make this shit up.