The Blue Jays’ sluggish start has created plenty of anxiety for the team’s fan base. But have faith — there’s plenty of history where teams have converted bad starts into post-season finishes. And good on Toronto fans for raising the bar on their expectancy for witnessing some high-level baseball — they’ve put up with underachievement long enough. But for the Jays, despite some rough outings by the vaunted starting staff, an abundance of bad at-bats and simply bad baseball, there is nothing to suggest the fan’s faith in their team should be scaled back. For example, the 2008 Tampa Rays opened April with a 7-10 record but rebounded with a 15-12 month, the first time in franchise history the Rays exited April with a winning record. The club’s bullpen, the worst in baseball in 2007, became the best in the American League that April. Closer Troy Percival saved five games and didn’t allow a run. There was, in addition, Eric Hinske hitting six homers and 15 RBIs for the month and Evan Longoria, called up April 11, signing a six-year, $15 million (U.S.) contract after just six games. Those Rays went on to win their division and the American League pennant. The 2002 Anaheim Angels won the World Series after a 2-5 start in April. They were 9-11 in April before things turned around. And the 2001 Athletics: 8-17 to start, then 96-43 the rest of the way. The 2006 Twins: 1-5 to start, 9-15 in April, and 25-33 on June 7 before winning 44 of their next 52 to glide into the post-season. Despite these examples, though, the anxiety remains in Toronto. Perhaps a reason for this stems from consecutive sub-par starts by staff ace R.A. Dickey (10.2 innings, 15 hits, 12 runs, 10 earned, 6 walks, 3 homers). Dickey is at least throwing strikes, a good thing for a knuckleballer. Concern would be justified for a regular pitcher putting up those numbers. But a knuckleballer does not have the same location concern.
History shows slow start can be overcome
Toronto Star | Apr 11