BY WES ARMSTRONG – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
The Blue Jays 2014 schedule has been released and aside from the fantastically exciting news that a few Spring Training games will be played in Montreal– thus giving a great baseball town professional baseball for a few days once again, there are 162 games on the schedule that the Blue Jays will need to play after that fact.
With the talent of the current roster and the skillful manner in which Alex Anthopoulos has demonstrated that he can acquire talent, it is safe to say that the 2014 Blue Jays will be a team worth getting excited about. Look for Rogers to up the payroll and Anthopoulos to make a few trades, an international acquisition and possibly a free agent signing to ensure that the club doesn’t just look good on paper, but is rather a fully-functional contender.
One of the lessons learned from the 2013 squad is that it is incumbent for the Blue Jays to get off to a good start in 2014. Another of the lessons I’ve learned from this season is that it is next to impossible, and a rather fruitless activity to predict what’s going to happen in an MLB season. But just for fun, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and examine the schedule month by month in about as fruitless a manner as I possibly can. So, here goes nothing.
April: (away) Rays, (home) Yankees, (home) Astros, (away) Orioles, (away) Twins, (away) Indians, (home) Orioles, (home) Red Sox, (away) Royals
The eternal optimist in me looks at April and thinks that it’s entirely possible for the Blue Jays to exit the month in good shape. With 26 games on the schedule, I would be quite happy with a record of 15-11. The key to the month will be series wins against their division rivals and sweeping the Astros (who will be much improved).
May: (away) Pirates, (away) Phillies, (home) Phillies, (home) Angels, (home) Indians, (away) Rangers, (away) Red Sox, (home) Athletics, (home) Rays, (home) Royals
The Pittsburgh Pirates series will be a tough way to start off May. The city is nice and the ballpark is beautiful, but the Pirates are going to be good for years to come and that will make this a difficult series. On the other hand, the home-and-home series with the Phillies will be where the Jays find their groove. If the Jays can then beat up on the Angels, and play respectable games against their divisional rivals, they should be able to split the 30 games in May with a 15-15 record.
June: (away) Tigers, (home) Cardinals, (home) Twins, (away) Orioles, (away) Yankees, (away) Reds, (home) Yankees, (home) White Sox
Any month that features the Tigers, Cardinals, Reds, Orioles, and Yankees is a tough month. The key to this month for the Jays will be strong pitching performances. They will need to keep these strong offences at bay if they are to enjoy success in June. My guess is that the Jays will have a record of either 13-14 or 14-13 in June.
July: (home) Brewers, (away) Athletics, (away) Angels, (away) Rays, (home) Rangers, (home) Red Sox, (away) Yankees, (away) Red Sox
July will be where the Jays travel west. They will need to win against their worthy western adversaries for a successful month. A series victory and hopefully a sweep of the Brewers will start the month on the right foot. After the All-Star break, they will need to ensure that they battle their division rivals vigorously and more important than their level of intensity, they will need to win. The team will win 13 games and send four players to the All-Star Game.
August: (away) Astros, (home) Orioles, (home) Tigers, (away) Mariners, (away) White Sox, (away) Brewers, (home) Rays, (home) Red Sox, (home) Yankees
August features both the Astros and Mariners who have not fielded the best teams in recent years. However with Taijuan Walker and others, the Mariners will be better. Series victories against the Astros and Mariners will be essential, but will require strong play. The White Sox and Brewers should provide the Jays an opportunity to sweep one series while winning the other, but 12 games against divisional rivals will determine whether or not the Jays are contenders. The jury is out (aka my Magic 8 Ball is not offering any reading whatsoever) on how the Jays do this month.
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September: (away) Rays, (away) Red Sox, (home) Cubs, (home) Rays, (away) Orioles, (away) Yankees, (home) Mariners, (home) Orioles
With 19 games in September against AL East division rivals, this is the true make-or-break month for the 2014 Blue Jays. The key to the month will be series victories against division rivals. Furthermore, a sweep of either the Cubs or Mariners would lessen the blow of so many hard fought games against their fiercest foes.
The 2014 Blue Jays have as good a chance as they have ever had to make the playoffs. The key to the season will be getting off to a good start, pitching deeper into games, playing more consistent defence, and winning against the Yankees. If the Jays can do these things, it will be a good year for the club.