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April 09, 2017

With a .201/.279/.297 team batting line, the Blue Jays are off to their second-weakest offensive start in team history; only the 1981 Jays fared worse at this point in the season.

Much of that won’t last. Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Steve Pearce, and Devon Travis won’t all rank among the dregs of AL hitters for much longer. But Toronto, coming off consecutive ALCS berths, has a limited margin for error as it tries to reconcile being the oldest team in Major League Baseball with a desire to bolster its farm system and compete long-term. Edwin Encarnacion isn’t around anymore to ride shotgun with Josh Donaldson and drive in infinity runs, and whichever high-offense position Pearce doesn’t play this year is going to result in either Justin Smoak or Ezequiel Carrera weighing down the bottom of the lineup. A steady drip of early injuries could deepen the Jays’ hole too: Roberto Osuna could rejoin the club and reclaim his closer role by Tuesday’s home opener, but now Toronto is missing fellow reliever J.P. Howell (DL, sore shoulder) and possibly star third baseman Donaldson (day-to-day, right calf tightness).

If the Jays hope to make it back to the postseason for the third straight year, a lot of things will need to go right, from a possible Marcus Stroman breakout to better health to every one of the team’s capable hitters performing near career-best levels.


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