The what if’s surrounding the surging Toronto Blue Jays’ season are numerous.
What if George Springer was healthy the entire season.
What if ace Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.60 ERA) got it going earlier.
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 Springer has been healthy, he’s been an all-out wrecking crew.
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.
Ready for the biggest what if of all? It’s sure to infuriate some Canadian baseball lovers.
Just imagine where Toronto might be, had they held on to a pair of Black pitchers 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.
Statistically, the Mets' rotation top three of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker is best in the Majors.
Recap of another breezy win:https://t.co/JB5YNAwVx3
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 12, 2021
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.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) August 12, 2021
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.
Taijuan Walker has had a remarkable season so far. 6-2 2.12era 1.00 whip 72ks in 68inn. Looks locked in with little to no run support from the triple AAA lineup the Mets put out wi. All the injuries.
— Trader Andy (@amac22nj) June 20, 2021
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. The Jays sit 1.5 games beind the second Wild Card spot, trying their best to muscle out of the toughest division in the American League.
However, if they don’t, they can look about 500 miles to the southeast and find what they were missing. Two Black pitchers who made the lowly Mets look like a contender for most of the season. They’d probably be appreciated much more in Toronto as well.