There were a few surprise teams that made the MLB playoffs in this shortened season, including the Toronto Blue Jays. Because of Covid-19, the season got cut down from 162 games to 60 games and the playoff format was expanded. With the season being shorter, every game was a must win. The Blue Jays have some young players who have promising futures in the league. Despite getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card round, the future is bright for the Jays.
With the Canadian government not allowing the Blue Jays to play in Toronto, the team played their home games in Buffalo, home of their Triple A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. The play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, Pat Malacaro, had the opportunity to be the PA announcer for the games in Buffalo. I was able to talk to him about the Blue Jays season.
When asked about the expectations for the team, Malacaro said, “Expectations in March were finishing third place in the division (AL East) and hoping to contend for a wild card spot.”
Once the season was shortened to 60 games, then making the playoffs was actually a possibility. In order to make the playoffs, every single player would have a to contribute and they did, he said.
“A lot of guys contributed they were figuring out who they were” Malacaro added.
Some of the MVP candidates for the team were infielder Cavan Biggio and Teoscar Hernandez. A couple of acquisitions from the trade deadline that could help the team not spend big money in free agency are two pitchers, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker. “If the Jays hang on to these players, it will help the development of the pitchers in the minor leagues” said Malacaro.
Looking to next season, Pat thinks shortstop Bo Bichette will take a big step. “If he’s consistent with his offense, he can be the lead-off hitter” said Malacaro. One player who struggled was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is considered one of the best prospects in the entire league. He’s known for his power so you think he would be hitting a lot of home runs. Well he didn’t do a lot of that this during the regular season.
“His biggest issue is getting into baseball shape” Malacaro said. “Covid-19 didn’t help because routine is a big thing for baseball players. Going forward, if he can get into good shape going forward, then he will be successful.”
The future is bright for the Blue Jays. It’s a possibility they will be a powerhouse in the few years.