Since they traded for Troy Tulowitzki just 10 days ago, the Toronto Blue Jays have surged into the final wild card spot and halved their deficit to the Yankees in the AL East. Friday kicked off a crucial weekend series between the two teams, the first of 13 games they’ll play between now and the end of the season. Both RA Dickey and Nathan Eovaldi were dealing, and the game went into extra innings tied 1-1. That’s when Jose Bautista happened:
Normally it is Toronto’s bullpen and their 4.09 ERA (sixth worst in the majors) that is shaky, but in 25.2 innings since the trade for Tulowitzki, they’ve had a 2.45 ERA. It’s a small sample size and perhaps won’t last, but the bullpen is certainly strengthened by the immortal LaTroy Hawkins, who hasn’t given up a run in the five innings since he came over with Tulo. And the acquisition of David Price, who gave up a single run in eight innings in his Blue Jays debut, should decrease the bullpen’s workload and therefore increase its effectiveness.
Toronto’s mediocre record at the trade deadline masked a best-in-the-majors +100 run differential. They are a putrid 12-23 in one-run games, but given that record in one-run games is more a function of randomness than anything else, there’s no reason to think that it will persist. They were already a prime candidate to finish the season strong, and with the additions of Hawkins, Tulowitzki, and Price, there’s a legitimate case to be made that they’re one of the handful of best teams in the majors.
The question now doesn’t seem to be whether the Blue Jays will make the playoffs, but how far in the playoffs they’re going to advance.