It's October. Yes. Thank you for the calendar. The September sadness is over, right?
Well, I mean that's logically not how things work. That's not how momentum works and I'm certain the Blue Jays aren't sitting in their clubhouse right now explaining that they're exponentially happier just because they flipped the calendar over. They are still in the most dire situation of the season and they're still playing for a one-game circus show to see which team will play off against the American League's top team in the American League Divisional Series. You could say that there have been happier times for the Blue Jays.
But September is over and that means we can rejoice that their one-month record and statistics are final. Nothing can change about that, good or bad. Their 11-16 record was the worst of any month of the year and is only really close thanks to a poor 11-14 start to the season in April.
As you are probably already aware, this is in large part thanks to the struggling offence. Much was made of that this month. It was hard to watch, probably infinitely more hard to play in. On the season, the Jays slash line is a respectable .248/.330/.427 but dropped to .238/.335/.363 in September. You'll notice the largest decline of that slash line is the slugging percentage. That is in large part thanks to the decline in home runs as the Jays launched just 24 long balls in the month of September, a mark that ranks 24th across the league. To put that in perspective, the Jays have a mean average of 36 home runs per month. Most importantly, the Jays scored only 100 runs in the month which is a mark that ranks only one run ahead of the Miami Marlins who, if they scored one run or more in their cancelled game on Monday following the death of Jose Fernandez, would have surpassed the Blue Jays.
On the pitching side of it, the starting core continued to exemplify their dominance posting a 3.38 ERA which is even better than their season average of 3.67 on the season. Despite battling injuries to Marco Estrada's back, inning limit conversations with Aaron Sanchez and the new addition of a starter in Francisco Liriano, the Blue Jays starting pitching continued to be a shining light in the month of September.
The bullpen, on the other hand, followed the lead of the offence in terms of overall performance. While being relied on only slightly more than the average month, their ERA increased from 4.13 on the season to 4.96 in the month of September alone while posting a 4-6 win loss record. Normally I wouldn't cite a win loss record as a relevant statistic at all, but given that six losses means the bullpen cost their starting core six wins over that time period by simply blowing the game, I would say it's certainly relevant. The six losses aren't an incredibly high mark given their average of 5.2 per month on the season, but in the month of September, where locking it down is more than encouraged, six losses is not a good sign.
At this point, you could look into the individual month performance of some of the Blue Jays biggest players and start assigning blame. I'm sure someone will. As Buck and Pat say nearly every broadcast, September is when the big guns come out to play and at times that hasn't been true for Toronto.
But now isn't the time to assign guilt or take part in the blame game. It's a new beginning. September is officially a part of the history books now and there's virtually nothing the Blue Jays can do to change it. Like many things in life, the Blue Jays will have to learn to accept their past and improve for a better tomorrow. Lucky for them, that tomorrow starts today in their second last game of the season versus the Boston Red Sox. Lucky for them, they control their own destiny.
It's going to be up to them if they make the playoffs, if October is going to be a new month or a mere extension of the desolate September. At least if it's going to be the latter, the misery is nearly over.