By Nicole Hansen
For the first time since 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays are American League East champions.
With a win against the Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader on September 30th, the Blue Jays clinched the AL East with a 92-66 record, 5.5 games ahead of the 2nd place Yankees. DH Edwin Encarnacion went 2-4, driving in 2 runs on 2 walks and 2 hits. Shortstop Ryan Goins had a perfect night, going 5-5 with 3 runs batted in and 1 walk. Marcus Stroman, the starting pitcher for Toronto, went a solid 8 innings, allowing only 1 run on a home run by Steve Pearce.Embed from Getty Images
But even with a playoff bid guaranteed, one name is still in the front of Toronto fans’ minds: Troy Tulowitzki. After suffering from a cracked left shoulder blade on September 12, Tulowitzki returned this past weekend in the season ending series against Tampa Bay. Even though he’s back on the field, this doesn’t necessarily mean everything is completely back to normal for Toronto’s shortstop.
Part of one of the most impactful trades made at the deadline this season, Tulowitzki has been a powerhouse player, especially in the field. Tulowitzki has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and anyone who’s watched him knows that Toronto can count on him to make crucial plays and look good doing it. Even though his batting numbers aren’t as good as some of his teammates, particularly Ryan Goins who’s been playing shortstop in Tulowitzki’s absence, his defensive skills still makes him as one of Toronto’s top threats.Embed from Getty Images
Because of his impact on the team since the All-Star break, Tulowitzki’s health is crucial for Toronto’s playoff run. Even though Tulowitzki has returned, it does not necessarily mean that he would be pain-free.
According to mlb.com, Tulowitzki will still have some discomfort in his shoulder even now that he has returned, but “the goal is to get the pain tolerance to a level that will be manageable.” In an immediate future, this mindset is okay. But in the long term, the Blue Jays have to hope that there won’t be any further muscle injuries that could put Tulowitzki out for a more serious injury.
Tulowitzki and the club have been monitoring this concern, and he’s been doing daily exercises to strengthen this area and prevent any complications. Only time will tell how this decision to put Tulowitzki back in early will affect his health.Embed from Getty Images
Moving forward, with the division secured, the Blue Jays have secured home field advantage in the ALDS. The only series they have a chance of more away games than home games, according to mlb.com, is in the ALCS against Kansas City, who finished with two more wins than the Blue Jays. According to general manager Alex Anthopoulos, playing at home in the playoffs will really be beneficial to the team.
“…To have a dome, playing conditions, all of that I think it’s a big advantage for us so we’d love to get it,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re certainly going to fight for it.”
And they certainly have.