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Blue Jays Still in Last Place Despite 11-Game Win Streak

By Andrew Goodman

Going into the 2013 season, the Toronto Blue Jays seemed like they were going to be the team to beat. A huge blockbuster trade between the Blue Jays and Marlins brought over Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio. Buck, along with top prospect Travis d'Arnaud and Wuilmer Becerra were then traded to the Mets for NL Cy Young Award Winner R.A. Dickey, catcher Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. For a team that hasn't made the playoffs in over a decade, the season seemed promising. Let's take a look at the key additions that the Blue Jays acquired this offseason.

R.A. Dickey, the 38-year-old knuckleballer was absolutely dominant for the Mets last year. Dickey led the league in strikeouts, led the league in shutout victories, was named to the National League All-Star team and won the coveted NL Cy Young Award, awarded to the best pitcher in each league. He broke the record for consecutive scoreless innings, throwing 44.1 innings without allowing a run (that's just fewer than five full games of baseball!) After acquiring Dickey, he was the obvious choice to be the ace in their rotation.

Mark Buehrle has been one of the most consistent pitchers since the turn of the millennium. Since debuting with the Chicago White Sox in 2000, Buehrle has been phenomenal. In 13 years, Buehrle has only had one losing season (12-13 in 2006) and has always been a strong presence on the mound. He is a four-time All-Star (2002, 2005, 2006, 2009), a four-time Gold Glove Award Winner (2009-2012), a four-time Fielding Bible Award winner (2009-2012) awarded to the best defensive player at each position based on statistics, a World Series champion (2005), pitched a no-hitter and even pitched one of only 23 pitchers in the history of baseball to throw pitch a perfect game! With a pitcher as good as Buehrle as your number three starter, your rotation must be loaded.

Josh Johnson, once a star for the Florida Marlins, has declined over the past few seasons but is still young and still has the goods. He led the majors in ERA in 2010, was twice named the NL Pitcher of the Month and is a two-time All-Star (2010-2011). The pitcher has been plagued by nagging injuries throughout his career, but when healthy Johnson is a pitcher to look out for. Johnson was named the number four starter, which is pretty good considering the strength of the rest of the rotation. With J.A. Happ injured, Dickey Buehrle and Johnson are now first, second and third in the Blue Jays rotation.

Jose Reyes has been one of the premier shortstops since his Major League debut in 2003 with the Mets. Reyes has quite an impressive resume, and is a very good all-around player. He is a four-time All-Star (2006-2007, 2010-2011), a three-time NL Stolen Bases Champion (2005-2007), a four-time NL Triples Champion (2005-2006, 2008, 2011), has won both a Silver Slugger Award (2006) and Batting Title (2011), and is the Mets all-time leader in both triples and stolen bases. Considered to be one of the best lead-off hitters in baseball, Reyes can start the game off right for any team. He has been a constant threat on the bases, stealing 415 bases in his career and only getting caught 103 times, and often turns singles into doubles, doubles into triples and even has an inside-the-park home run. Reyes has also hit for the cycle, and has made a claim for the MVP Award several times, although never won it. Adding Reyes into an already powerful Blue Jays lineup was the boost that the Blue Jays needed to be a contender.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, their season hasn't exactly gone according to plan. Reyes played only 10 games before injury his delicate legs that have nagged him in the past, and was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Although he hasn't been in the line-up for most of the season, he was batting .395 before getting injured, but his absence has definitely been noticeable for the Blue Jays, who desperately needed a shortstop prior to trading for Reyes and had to settle with what they had after Reyes was injured.

R.A. Dickey has been nothing but disappointing. Many speculated saying that there was no way the 38-year-old pitcher could repeat his Cy Young winning season. Well, those people were right. Dickey is currently 6-8 for the Blue Jays, with a 5.15 ERA and a WHIP of 1.39. These numbers are mediocre at best, but highly disappointing for a pitcher coming off a year like Dickey had. The Blue Jays traded away top prospects for Dickey, and instead of getting the ace they had hoped for they got ripped off.

Neither Buehrle nor Johnson is having the seasons that the Blue Jays had predicted either. Johnson has started only eight games due to injury, and is currently 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA. He has struck out 44 batters in just 45 innings, but is allowing way too many hits, having allowed 51 in those same 45 innings. Buehrle is 4-4 for the Blue Jays, also with an ERA of 4.60. Batters are hitting .270 against the former All-Starand he has also allowed 13 home runs. With these three guys at the top of the rotation, performing far below their expectations, the Blue Jays had a rough start to the season.

The Blue Jays started out the season 10-17 and are currently in last place in the AL East. Luckily for them, everyone in the AL East is a contender, with only 5.5 games separating first and last place.

A sudden surge in the Blue Jays offense led them to a franchise record-tying 11 game win streak. However, despite the win streak, the Blue Jays are still in last place. During this stretch, they saw the much needed power from Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and J.P. Arencibia. However, slugger Jose Bautista has been almost invisible during this stretch, as has Melky Cabrera. Despite their best player's lackluster hitting, the Blue Jays outscored their opponents 70-27 during their win streak. Former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang has proved himself to be useful, filling a spot in the Blue Jays rotation, as has Esmil Rogers, who both currently have ERAs in the 2.00-3.00 range.

At this point in the season, anything is possible. We aren't even halfway through, and with the AL East being such a tight division, the Blue Jays are far from out of it. They get Reyes back this week, and hopefully the three pitchers they brought in to be a contender come back from the All-Star break fresh and ready to make a run at the playoffs.