It was easy to like the Toronto Blue Jays last September. They made the deals of the summer. For the final two months of the regular season, all they did was win.

They had David Price, they had a lineup that didn’t stop, they had a boost from Marcus Stroman’s return and they had whatever momentum you get from going 21-6 in August and 18-9 in September.

They have almost none of that this year. No David Price, no big flashy trades, no big boost and no late-season momentum. Before Friday, they were 7-12 and had scored the fewest runs in baseball in September.


Then the Blue Jays play a game like Friday’s, and suddenly you remember why you shouldn’t dismiss them as October contenders. They beat the New York Yankees 9-0, with Josh Donaldson hitting and Jose Bautista hitting and Edwin Encarnacion hitting and Troy Tulowitzki hitting, and suddenly you remember this is the same group that bludgeoned the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series and took the soon-to-be champion Kansas City Royals to six games in the AL Championship Series.

Price isn’t here, but given his 6.17 ERA last October, are you going to give that as a reason the team that almost won last year can’t win this time around?

Bautista and Encarnacion are free agents this winter, but don’t you think they’d like to put on a big-stage demonstration of why they should be paid big bucks? Don’t you think they’d love to deliver in one last go-round with the organization they’ve served since 2008 (Bautista) and 2009 (Encarnacion)?

It’s been a fun ride—one that has energized the fanbase to the point where the Blue Jays lead the American League in attendance. They broke the longest postseason drought in baseball last year, but they also fell two wins shy of bringing the World Series north of the border for the first time since 1993.

The Blue Jays have had a wildly inconsistent offense—that’s offence in Canada—this season. I remember sitting in manager John Gibbons’ office one day in August listening to him bemoan the lack of big hits and then watching them score 19 runs in two days.

Sure enough, their run totals the last six days are one, zero, three, 10, one and now nine.

The inconsistency is the biggest reason the Jays haven’t been able to hang with the Boston Red Sox atop the American League East. The Red Sox won their ninth in a row Friday and lead the division by 5.5 games with nine days to play. The Jays had one seven-game winning streak in early July, but other than that they haven’t won more than four in a row all year.

They’ll still need a few more wins to clinch a playoff spot. The Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles both won Friday night as well, so the Jays ended the night a half-game ahead of the Tigers and 1.5 ahead of the O’s. Two of those three teams likely make it, although the Houston Astros or Seattle Mariners could still sneak in.

The Jays don’t have an easy schedule. After three more games with the Yankees, they have three at home with the Orioles and three in Boston.

They do have Russell Martin, and history says teams with Martin play in October. The veteran catcher is in his 11th major league season, with his fourth organization. He’s been in the playoffs every year but two, and in one of those years (2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers), he was hurt and couldn’t have played anyway.

Martin is like most of the other Blue Jays. He’s had an inconsistent season, and he’s having a lousy final month (.172 batting average).

I’d take him. I’d take that lineup. I’d take a chance with that team, in a postseason series against anyone.

The Blue Jays won’t be anyone’s favorite when the playoffs begin. But games like Friday’s serve as a reminder they’re absolutely dangerous enough to win.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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