From Without A Home To Playoff Bound: The 2020 Blue Jays
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Coming into this season there were a lot of uncertainties surrounding the 2020 Toronto Blue Jays. With what many thought to be another step in the rebuilding process, they not only faced questions about how they’ll play but thanks to the COVID outbreak across North America, they also faced the question of where they’ll play.
With travel between the US and Canada off the table, Toronto tried to work out as many options as possible. PNC Park in Pittsburgh was considered but that didn't work out, Camden Yards in Baltimore was also discussed but that idea was also thrown out the window by health experts. Toronto’s temporary home in 2020 was very much up in the air.
However, after a desperate and extensive search took place, Toronto’s AAA affiliate stepped up. Sahlen Field, located in Buffalo, wouldn't be too far from home, but vast improvements to its current condition needed to take place. After it was all said and done, the Jays had a home, and now their affiliate had access to state-of-the-art facilities. A win-win for everyone.
Now with a home, the Jays looked to show off their exciting young core of talent with some big offseason acquisitions. The bold signing of Hyun-jin Ryu not only got the Jays an ace, but also showed the rest of the league they were ready to make big moves. In games where Ryu took the mound, Toronto's record was 9-3. In 9 of those starts he gave up 2 or less runs and finished 4th in the AL’s ERA race.
Speaking of that young core, Bo Bichette’s season was good but shortened due to injuries with only 29 games. In his absence Lourdes Gurriel and Teoscar Hernandez stepped up huge, Gurriel especially, leading the team in hits and was second on the team in home runs. Hernandez has also been vital for the Jays success with 16 home runs and batting close to .300.
The Jays franchise player, Vlad Guerrero jr, is still trying to find his game but garnered 12 hits in the final 7 games of the season, as well as 8 rbi's during that stretch. A step in the right direction for the young slugger, especially given the strange nature of the season.
This season has to be one of the most intriguing seasons in the franchise’s history. Coming into the year, the Jays had less than a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs, 10 teams were given better odds, including bottom feeders like the Red Sox and Rangers. The turning point for the team came in mid-August where Toronto put together a 6 game winning streak.
At one point, Toronto even passed the Yankees for second place in the AL East, but they slipped up losing six straight and lost 4 straight series. They lived with a bend but don’t break attitude, and given the youth and the circumstances the team had to go through, a 32-28 record is something they should be proud of.
Defying the odds and clinching a spot in the playoffs should be celebrated amongst Jays fans. Toronto flew under the radar all year round and are now going to play when it matters most. A series with the first place Rays awaits them, but the fans should enjoy watching the playoffs no matter the outcome. From homeless to playoff bound, this team deserves massive praise.