Grueling finish may provide real glimpse of future

Grueling finish may provide real glimpse of future

Grueling finish may provide real glimpse of future
ST. PETERSBURG -- Statistics recorded during the month of September can often be at least somewhat deceiving.

Rosters can be expanded to 40 players and an influx of Minor Leaguers make the jump to the next level. Non-contending teams also might be more inclined to allow younger players to work out their problems on the field rather than going with a quick hook because there's less on the line.

The end result is that not all game situations provide a realistic glimpse of what to expect in the future. But for the Blue Jays, that isn't necessarily the case this season because of a grueling schedule during the final month.

Toronto is better equipped to get true reads on the performances of rookies such as Anthony Gose, Adeiny Hechavarria and Moises Sierra when matched up against the league's best.

"In the case of our schedule this month, everybody we've played has been a contender," manager John Farrell said. "As we're evaluating our hitters, it's not like we're seeing guys come out of Double-A and start against us. We're seeing their regular turn in the rotation.

"We're seeing playoff intensity thrown at us. They have done a solid job in competing against that and competing with it. The fact is, they are getting valuable repetition and experience during this month."

Toronto plays all but nine of its 29 games this month against teams that have a realistic chance at making the playoffs. It's a tough way to finish out the season, and while there have been some positive results from the younger players, the mental grind has clearly taken its toll on the team as a whole.

The Blue Jays entered play on Sunday having lost five consecutive games and nine of their past 11. Overall, the club has dropped 12 of its past 16 series dating back to the end of July, and the late-season swoon has prompted some questions about whether Toronto has already mentally checked out for the year.

Farrell insists that's not the case, but admitted it has become commonplace to remind players that there is still a lot of evaluating happening at this time of the year.

"Whether it's June or September, there are days when things are flat," Farrell said. "That's the nature of this game, but at the same time it's what they can control the most, and that's their preparation and intensity in which they play.

"We haven't had a whole lot of results of late, that's obvious. But there is an attitude that can be controlled, and how they go about their work is most important."