Last year the Blue Jays rolled to a 27-14 start in May before falling back on a nine-game losing streak where they eventually finished the season in fourth place at 75-87. Fast forward to 2010 where the Jays have once again started strong to a mark of 33-24 and 3.5 back of the Rays following Saturday’s action, including two straight wins over the Yankees with a chance to sweep them today at Rogers Centre.

So the question remains—if the Jays have done this before and falter down the stretch, is this 2010 team for real? A lot of experts write this team off whenever the Blue Jays are mentioned as possible contenders, but I’m not so sure this team I agree with the consensus.

There are three main reasons for Toronto’s success so far this season. Number one is the home run totals. Forget about the Yankees Bombers because this should be the year of the Jays Bombers as their 96 home runs easily lead the majors. The next closest team is the Red Sox, who are 18 home runs behind with 78. The second reason for their success is the defense. Toronto is third in the American League in fielding percentage (.987) and has made the third fewest errors in the AL with 29. And the third reason (and these are in no particular order) is the brilliant pitching of Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil. They are a combined 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA. All three have taken on the challenge of replacing Roy Halladay, who was traded to Philadelphia in the offseason. Just think if Halladay was still anchoring this staff. The Blue Jays would probably be rolling away in first place.

You have to remember that this is pretty much the same team as last year minus one of the game’s best pitcher. Romero and Cecil each have their first year under their belts and have looked stellar in 2010. Marcum missed of all of 2009 due to injury, but has bounced back more than anyone within the organization could have expected. If there was ever a reason to believe the Jays could keep this pace up it’s Marcum, Romero and Cecil.

As for the offense which is hitting balls out of the ballpark at a ridiculous rate (almost two per game), some of the big hitters from last year—Adam Lind and Aaron Hill—each have eight home runs, but are hitting just .212 and .190, respectively. While they may be struggling to hit for average other sluggers in the lineup are off to a great start.

Jose Bautista is finding a nice home north of the border, leading the entire majors with 18 home runs. Vernon Wells is having a bounce back season, which is what the Jays desperately were looking for, as he’s hitting .307 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI. Alex Gonzalez even has 11 home runs, Edwin Encarnacion has only played 25 games due to a trip on the disabled list, but he still has eight long balls. Catcher John Buck, who is quickly becoming a nice find in free agency for Toronto, has nine home runs and Lyle Overbay has seven. Young prospect Travis Snider has six homers and was finally looking comfortable at the plate before landing on the DL with a wrist injury. Even though they are leading the majors in homers, I still think this offense could get better once Snider returns healthy and Hill and Lind find their groove.

So what could go wrong for this team? Well for starters they play in the toughest division in baseball. The AL East is loaded with the three-headed monster of New York, Tampa Bay and Boston. Is there room for the Blue Jays in that three-team race? Can they continue to keep up with these three teams? I’m not sure about that.

Also, as I discussed above the Jays top three starters have been money so far this season. But Romero and Cecil have never pitched a full season before, plus Marcum missed all of 2009. Will these guys hit a wall in August/September and fall apart? I cannot answer that, but it’s definitely a concern I would have as we get further into the season. Can Brandon Morrow turn things around and be a reliable fourth starter for the rest of the season? The former first round pick of the Mariners is 4-4 with a 6.00 ERA already this season, so if he can step up and turn his season around, it would go a long way in Toronto.

I think the difficulty of the AL East and the question marks of whether Romero/Cecil/Marcum will last down the stretch or not will be too much to overcome for the Jays. Unlike 2009, I still see them finishing above .500, but anything more than that could be too early for this young team.

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