Opposite dugout: Blue Jays turn to offseason as disappointing season winds down

blue-jays-logo.jpgManager: John Gibbons (10th season)

Record: 66-77

Last 10 games: 5-5

Who to watch: 1B Justin Smoak (.278/.358/.550 with 37 HR, 85 RBIs), 3B Josh Donaldson (.254/.378/.519 with 25 HR, 64 RBIs), DH Kendrys Morales (27 HR, 78 RBIs), RHP Marcus Stroman (11-7, 3.18 ERA), RHP Roberto Osuna (3.66 ERA, 35 saves, 0.93 WHIP)

Season series vs. Orioles: 5-11

Pitching probables:

Sept. 11: RHP Ubaldo Jiménez vs. RHP Marco Estrada, 7:07 p.m., MASN
Sept. 12: RHP Dylan Bundy vs. RHP Joe Biagini, 7:07 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 13: RHP Kevin Gausman vs. RHP Marcus Stroman, 7:07 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Blue Jays:

It’s no secret that the Blue Jays are one of baseball’s most disappointing teams this season. After reaching back-to-back American League Championship Series, the Jays are dwelling at the bottom of the AL East and their elimination from the postseason has become a matter of when not if.

Toronto has gone 3-3 against Boston and Detroit since splitting a four-game series in Baltimore just over a week ago - both losses coming in extra-inning walk-off fashion. And with their elimination numbers for the division and wild card races at five and 12, respectively, rumors have already started to swirl around the Blue Jays’ offseason, particularly concerning All-Star first baseman Josh Donaldson. FanRag Sports reported last week that Donaldson “almost surely isn’t going anywhere,” given that the Blue Jays front office still feels the club can return to contention in 2018. It would take special deal that improves the team for Toronto to ship out the former AL MVP, who is making $17 million this year and is due to hit arbitration this offseason.

The reason being for these rumors popping up is the rise of third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has been named one of the top prospects in all of baseball, even coming in as No. 1 overall in some rankings. The free agent signee from 2015 and son of former Orioles outfielder Vladimir Guerrero slashed .323/.425/.485 with 13 home runs and 76 RBIs in 119 games between high Single-A Dunedin and low Single-A Lansing. But the Blue Jays aren’t expected to promote the 18-year-old until 2019, keeping Donaldson at the hot corner for at least another year. Donaldson, by the way, hasn’t played since Sept. 5 while battling a bad cold.

As for the present, Marco Estrada gets the start for the series opener at the Rogers Centre. The right-hander gave up six runs on 10 hits and three home runs over five innings in his last meeting against the Orioles, but received enough run support to earn the win. Righty Joe Biagini (yes, that’s pronounced “be-a-genie”) takes the mound for Tuesday’s game. Biagini had a strong outing against the O’s last week, pitching seven shutout innings of five-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a no-decision. But he didn’t make it out of the fourth inning in his latest start, taking a loss against the Red Sox. Marcus Stroman will be the third and final starter to face the Orioles for a second time in the last week. Stroman left his start at Camden Yards in the second inning after he was hit by a line drive from Mark Trumbo in the right elbow. Luckily, Stoman was able to make his next start against the Tigers, but took the loss, giving up four runs in six innings.

Roberto Osuna has still been a staple in the Blue Jays bullpen, recording an AL second-best 35 saves while posting a 3.66 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 8.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Osuna, however, hasn’t appeared in a game since Sept. 5, either, while dealing with a neck issue.

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