Sports

Blue Jays’ season slipping further away after depressing loss to Diamondbacks

PHOENIX – As the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2024 season slips further and further away, the impulse to look ahead is tough to ignore. 

And, honestly, why would anyone resist it? The here and the now, the minutiae of a 12-1 loss to the Diamondbacks? It can get a little depressing. Alejandro Kirk and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. committed fielding errors, Chris Bassitt got ejected for arguing about check swings on a night he didn’t even pitch and the Diamondbacks outplayed the Blue Jays in every way imaginable. That’s the short version. 

But even though the 43-52 Blue Jays are nowhere near playoff contention, there are times that the way they win or lose will tell us something significant about this team’s chances for 2025 and beyond. It’s nowhere near as gripping as a playoff race, obviously, but it’s where the Blue Jays are at.

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And at Chase Field Saturday, a rough start by Jose Berrios was significant because of his importance to this team’s short- and long-term prospects. In his final start of a first half that started so well, Berrios ran allowed five earned runs in four innings without recording a strikeout or a swing-and-miss.

It was the first time since 2022 that Berrios completed a start without generating a single strikeout, and the Diamondbacks connected for some loud contact, too. Including this outing, Berrios now has a 5.50 ERA in 13 starts since the beginning of May — not what the Blue Jays would have hoped for from a player under contract through 2028 and not what they would have expected when he posted a 1.44 ERA through the end of April.

Now, to be fair, Berrios has bounced back from worse struggles before. His entire 2022 season was a challenging one, as he posted a 5.23 ERA for the season, but he was consistent with his preparation the entire time and the results turned dramatically the following year. This recent stretch isn’t nearly as concerning, especially since the velocity on his pitches has stayed consistent.

If anyone can rebound from these struggles, it’s likely Berrios, a two-time all-star who’s still just 30 years old. But considering the number of other questions facing this team, the Blue Jays would probably prefer not to be wondering why his season strikeout rate has dropped six percentage points to 17.8 per cent.

Offensively, the Blue Jays managed very little against starter Yilber Diaz and the Arizona bullpen, with a sacrifice fly from Kirk leading to Toronto’s only run. Bo Bichette was once again on the bench resting a calf issue that may well keep him on the sidelines until next Friday, when the second half resumes.

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It’s possible Yimi Garcia will return before then, as the reliever was on his way to Arizona Saturday night and could be activated Sunday. Considering relievers Zach Pop and Nate Pearson combined to allow six runs, including three home runs, the Blue Jays could certainly use the help. Only the Rockies’ bullpen has a worse ERA in 2024.

Fundamentally, the Blue Jays don’t have enough quality relievers, a fact that was underscored once again Saturday night. Just one of the many uncomfortable questions now swirling around this baseball team.


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