Could the Jays have won 4 more games of the last 29 with an intact lineup? Sure. Does that make them a contender? Maybe.
Listening to Wilner's the Blue Jays talk last night, Wilner believed that "absolutely, the team would be contending right now" if the Jays were not injured. He stated that since the Jays lost Bautista, the team went 11-18.
Let's say that instead of 11-18, they went 15-14. Where would they be in the standings today? On July 16, the Jays were 45-45 (now 56-63), and they were two games back of Detroit (47-43) for the remaining wildcard spot.
Okay, without Bautista, they got swept by the Yankees, but then swept the Boston Red Sox. On Sunday, July 22, the Jays were 48-47, but three games out of a wild card behind the Orioles at 51-44. It's safe to say that the results in the Bronx would not have changed as the Jats lost 6-0 and 6-1. Bautista's bat would not have been a factor.
For the Oakland series at home, July 25th was the last day that we saw Adam Lind and JP Arencibia. The Jays missing those three in the line up would have had no effect on the outcome (The Jays sans Bautista would not have come back from a 8 run disaster by Romero nor a 7-2 decision the day before). So at the end of the Oakland series at home on July 26 (a game that they won), the Jays record was 49-49, 4 games back of Oakland for the final wild card spot. No change to the Jays record thus far purely due to injuries in the starting lineup.
The Jays then won two of three against the Tigers on the weekend series and lost 4-1 on the Sunday game with Cecil pitching against Fister. Without Arencibia, Lind and Bautista, it's safe to say that this loss still would have happened -- the Jays only threatened in the 3rd and 4th inning in this game and the batters up were regulars. So as of July 29, the Jays record is still unchanged at 51-50, 4 games back of the Angels for the final wild card spot.
So, let's be clear. Before the road trip to the west coast, on July 30th, the Jays were 4 games out a playoff spot with a record of 51-50, and there are no games that the Jays really would have won with Bautista, Lind, and Arencibia in the lineup. They either lost by too many runs or weren't due in the lineup to comeup in situations with runners on base.
Anthopoulos therefore would have made the same moves at the trade deadline.
The West Coast has always been particularly hard on the Jays, and with the trade of Snider, the offense really started to lag at this point, and with the Jays without Arencibia, Lind, Bautista, and now Snider out of the lineup, it's safe to say that perhaps the Jays would have won the finale (which they lost 5-3) as there were many opportunities for the Jays but the wrong bats were up. Seattle had just come off of a sweep of Kansas and were playing well. Still, the Jays should have won one game in Seattle. This puts the Jays at 52-52 going into Oakland for the four game series, now games back of Oakland.
So, now the Jays in Oakland and in the first game they lost 4-1 against Alvarez. Cooper went 1-3 (in place of Lind, Gose went 1-4 in place of Bautista, and Gomes went 0-4). Perhaps two hits would have been added by the senior jays. I think they could have won this game as they were threatening a few times where Bautista / Arencibia would have been at bat instead of Gose / Gomes. The Jays win this one if their line up was intact.
The August 3rd game was the 15 inning affair where the Jays lost Lawrie and Rasmus and was the breaking point truly for this team. Still, I will put this in the loss column for the Jays just because I don't think the Jays get out of Oakland with less than one loss. So the Jays go 3-1 in Oakland instead of 2-2, and the Jays are 55-53 out of Oakland (Oakland is then 57-51). This puts the Jays two game out of a wild card spot going into Tampa.
Tampa has never been good to the Jays (7 years since they won a series there), so I am going to put them 1-2 in the series instead of 0-3 (I think the Jays beat Cobb on the Wednesday night game). Jays are 56-55 out of Tampa (who are then 58-53) and are still only three games back of the wild card spot.
Time for a reality check -- It's reasonable that the Jays would go 5-5 on the road. Oakland did not play very well, and the Jays should have taken that series. And winning 2 of 6 against Seattle and Tampa is reasonable.
The Jays then go home to face the Yankees in last weekend's series sans Lawrie, Rasmus, Bautista, Arencibia, and Lind. The Yankees would have won the opener anyway as they won 10-4. The Jays probably don't take Saturday's game either. So, the result of this series remains the same at 1-2. Jays would by 57-57 after New York, 4 games back of a wild card (Tampa would be 61-53, Baltimore 62-53). Also ahead of Toronto: Oakland (60-54), Detroit (61-54) and the Angels (60-55).
This takes us to the current series. It's safe to say I think that the Jays win Tuesday night's game (they lost 3-2) as they were threatening several times and couldn't convert. This puts the Jays right now going into tonight's game at 59-58, 5 games back of Baltimore, 3 back of Tampa (62-55), 2.5 back of Detroit (63-55), 1.5 back of the Angels (62-56) and 1/2 game back of Oakland (60-56).
So, without the injuries, I beleive that the Jays get one win back from each of Seattle, Oakland, Tampa, and Chicago. Instead of the Jays being 55-62, they are 59-58, three games back of a wild card. And I think that this number is bang on. They were .500 going into the Baustista injury and the improvements that the team made at the deadline would not have drastically improved this number.
At the trade deadline, Anthopoulos gave up on the Jays by not adding a good (sorry, Happ) veteran arm to the rotation while other contenders did. He did not believe that the Jays were a contending team being 4 games back just before the Jays left for the west coast.
When you look at the standings today, even with the four extra wins, the Jays would have needed to get by four other teams who would still be doing better than them. Detroit or Tampa are projected to have 87 wins and that's the magic number (Probably it is 88). For the Jays to hit that, they would have needed to go 28-17 against a very difficult schedule. Not impossible, but not likely either.
Wilner would call a team 3, 4, even 5 games out of a wild card a contending team. But given the number of wins they would have to take to make the wild card and the teams that they would have to pass, I would not have called them a contender on July 16th, and I wouldn't have called them a contender today even with 59 wins.
So yep, blames the injuries for the Jays woes. It's the sad truth, but even without the injuries to the starting lineup, the Jays probably would not be contenders.