The Toronto Blue Jays spent a lot of their off-season rebuilding their starting rotation in order to be a playoff contender in 2013.
Amid much hype from both the fans and the media, the Jays added reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Before the first pitch of the season, there were a lot of Jays fans that had playoff visions after a 20-year drought.
Unfortunately, things haven't quite worked out. The rotation, which was believed to be a strength, has been their biggest issue. The Jays, who are last in the American League East, 11.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox and 8.5 games behind the Texas Rangers for the second wild card spot, have the second highest starters' ERA in all of baseball at 5.07. Only the Minnesota Twins at 5.23 have been worse.
The All-Star break has given not only the players but the fans and media time to assess what the Jays options are with regards to the starters and trying to contend this season.
According to TSN Baseball Insider Steve Phillips, the Jays have what it takes to make a push for the playoffs with the starters the club already has in the fold.
"Their starting pitching didn't pitch anywhere like it's capable of in the first half of the season," Phillips stated. "Josh Johnson, I believe, will have a great second half. R.A. Dickey, who is healthier now will be the R.A. Dickey that the Mets had last season.
"I look at the starting pitching as the difference to get the Jays propelled back into the pennant race and really making a run, not at the division, the Red Sox or going to do that, but be one of the two wild card teams in the American League."
Phillips' thoughts were echoed by Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion over the All-Star break.
"I think the starting pitching," Encarnacion said. "If we want to win, we know and they know we need to pitch better."
There was a great deal of speculation over the weekend that the Jays, along with the Texas Rangers, were front-runners in the hunt for Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza; a situation that general manager Alex Anthopoulos denied on TSN1050 radio on Monday. Anthopoulos also stated that the club would not be sellers on the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
"When we made all these acquisitions and trades, we did it with the thought that it was not only for one year," Anthopoulos said. "It just doesn't make sense to sell low on players. When players aren't performing well, you're not going to get much in trade.
"I don't see us doing anything where we take away from the team unless we clearly feel that we have depth in certain areas. But I'd say right now, the only area I could see us having some depth is in the bullpen. So maybe we would be open-minded if there was a deal there to trade a reliever."
With the Blue Jays' post-season hopes continuing to fade, we ask: Do you think the Blue Jays can contend for the playoffs this season with the team and rotation they have? As always, it's Your! Call.