Choosing to stay quiet as Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline passed, the Blue Jays are relying on the return of Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind, and Edwin Encarnacion to energize the lineup down the stretch.
Lawrie (finger) began his rehab assignment Friday and barring any setbacks could be with the Jays as early as next weekend. Lind (foot) is expected to start rehab games in the coming days and Encarnacion (quad) could join him shortly thereafter.
The sooner they get back the better, because the playoff race in the AL is dense and demanding. As it stands, Toronto (60-53) is in possession of the second wild-card spot but Kansas City (1 1/2 GB), New York (1 1/2 GB), Seattle (2 GB), and Cleveland (3 GB) are hot in pursuit.
While the Jays attempt to hold off their challengers, the Orioles and first-place in the AL East are still in their sights. Baltimore's lead in the division is 3 1/2 games and they arrive in Toronto on Tuesday for a three-game series.
Lawrie, Lind, and Encarnacion won't be ready to play just yet, but here's a quick reminder of what's expected from each member of the injured trio when they get back.
After a rough opening month, Lawrie rebounded to post an above average OBP (league average this season is .319) in May and June before fracturing his finger and heading to the DL.
Lawrie is likely to get most of his starts at second base, setting up a Juan Francisco/Danny Valencia platoon at third. This way, the Jays can squeeze more power into the lineup. Lawrie provides more defensive value at third but he's shown he can be a capable middle infielder. It also allows manager John Gibbons to shift Lawrie to third base late in games and put another good defender on the field at second.
Playing primarily in a platoon role, Lind has been a monster against right-handed pitching this season. He'll get most of his at-bats at DH against righties and can provide adequate cover at first base.
No contending team can say they added a middle of the order bat like Encarnacion at the deadline. He's been one of the best power hitters in baseball over the last three years and his presence in Toronto's lineup makes an already potent offence even more dangerous.
Alex Anthopoulos and Co. didn't feel the market was right for them to make a big splash and improve the top of their rotation. Unless they pull off a surprise waiver trade for a high-priced starter like Cole Hamels or John Danks, they're rolling with what they have.
What they have is a team that scores runs (4.6 per game) among the best in the league and prevents runs (4.3 per game) at a league average rate.
For Toronto, the hope is that their in-house reinforcements will help provide the boost that the roster craves. The help won't be ready for this week's battle with Baltimore — the hope is that the roster as currently constructed can put a dent in the Orioles' division lead without them.
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