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The Blue Jays are really, truly struggling

Sunday’s Say Hey, Baseball features Toronto’s tough start, more on MadBum’s injury, and some bench-clearing drama.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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The Toronto Blue Jays broke their win streak of one last night, meaning that they still haven't won back-to-back games at any point this season. Of course, that's not quite so surprising when you consider they've won just four games so far — the worst record in baseball and the worst start in franchise history. There are, to put it simply, a lot of things that have been going wrong for them. Most of the attention has focused on the offense, which makes sense given the team's dreadful .220/.286/.333 performance at the plate and the mysterious struggles of their highest-profile players, like Jose Bautista. The Blue Jays' pitching, by comparison, has generally been perfectly adequate. But a set of injuries — an elbow strain for J.A. Happ, a blister for Aaron Sanchez — have exposed the rotation's greatest weakness: its lack of depth.

This is immediately and painfully obvious when you look at who's started for Toronto this weekend. Friday night was Mat Latos, who was signed in late February after bouncing through five teams in two seasons. Saturday was 29-year-old rookie Casey Lawrence, who has been languishing in the Blue Jays' minor-league system since 2010. This means that the team has now used seven different starting pitchers this season — as many as they used in all of last year. As it turns out, weirdly enough, this weekend's duo of unlikely starters have given the Blue Jays some of their best chances at victory so far this year. It's helped that they're playing the relatively hapless Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, sure. But they won under Latos and came close under Lawrence, who was doomed by one mistake — a third-inning grand slam to Andrelton Simmons — that a late offensive surge wasn't enough to overcome.

Given the concerns for many of their biggest players — the health issues for the rotation, the disabled list for Josh Donaldson, the total offensive disappearance of Bautista — the team is now in a position where they almost need to rely on players stepping up from unlikely sources in order to win. This weekend, their starting pitching took a small step toward the possibility of making that so.

  • Madison Bumgarner is on the disabled list for the first time in his career, out for six to eight weeks after a dirt bike accident this week. So what does it mean for the Giants? A lot, with plenty of pressure on young Ty Blach to step up and take his place.

  • The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins got into some bench-clearing drama yesterday.

  • Aw, Yasiel Puig worked hard to make sure this young fan got to take home a ball.

  • One day after Corey Kluber pitched a gem of a complete game shutout, teammate Carlos Carrasco followed it up with a game nearly as beautiful.

  • Jeremy Hellickson is the only veteran in the Philadelphia Phillies’ young rotation. Should the team extend him?

  • Grant Brisbee tries to find some bright spots in a no good, very bad game for the San Francisco Giants.

  • Elvis Andrus quickly backhanded a grounder from Whit Merrifield and turned for a perfect jump throw to rob him of a hit in the fifth inning. Even better for Andrus? Later providing the walk-off hit for a Texas Rangers win.

  • The Cincinnati Reds’ No. 10 prospect, Tyler Mahle, threw a perfect game for Double-A Pensacola yesterday.