2015 Fantasy Baseball: Team Preview — Toronto Blue Jays
2014 Record: 83-79 (.512)
- 4th in Runs per game (4.46/GP)
- 4th in Hits per game (8.85/GP)
- 2nd in Homeruns (177)
- 3rd in RBIs (690)
- 9th in ERA (4.00/GM)
- 7th in Quality Starts (86)
- 9th in Strikeouts (1199)
- 9th in Opponent Batting Average (.253)
There’s no question the Jays are a good offensive team, but it’s pitching that keeps letting them down year after year. It’s hard to be a winning team by just relying on the long ball, especially in a very competitive A.L East division, and John Gibbons’ club is definitely in love with the long ball. This year may be the same story, but with new faces and some young guns ready to make the jump to the big show, it may be the year the Jays head to October.
Scoring runs isn’t going to be an issue again this year for Toronto as the team’s one-two punch of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are healthy entering training camp and poised to have another great season. Manufacturing runs the old fashioned way may be difficult to do this season considering Jose Reyes isn’t getting any younger and could be in for a decline in stolen bases (SB). With no real speed threat on the bases after him, its going to be a struggle to improve on last years 78 stolen bases.
The team did make some splashes in the off-season, acquiring talented 3B Josh Donaldson for often-injured Brett Lawrie and signing all-star catcher Russell Martin to a five-year deal. Donaldson, now entering his fourth season in the league, brings some added firepower to the top of the lineup and will look to take advantage of a hitter-friendly ballpark to crack the 30 HR club for the first time in his career. Martin on the other hand, will bring some experience to the catcher position. The three-time all-star and 2007 Gold Glove winner is an excellent game manager and should be able to improve on his disappointing numbers from last season.
Offensively the Jays will be fine, and if they can avoid injuries to their top players, we can expect them to be in the top five of almost every offensively category in the American League.
Unlike their offense, pitching is going to be a big question mark heading in this season. The top of the rotation is basically set with R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle leading the way. There’s no question both aren’t getting any younger, but if they can stay healthy, they are a lock to pitch 200 innings and give the team a chance to win every time they step onto the mound. Drew Hutchison is penciled into the third spot and should be ready to take the next step in his young MLB career. Filling out the two bottom spots of the rotation are Marcus Stroman and rookie Daniel Norris. Both will get the opportunity in spring training to show the club they deserve to be in the Majors and hopefully produce at a high level. Experience will definitely be something to worry about as both pitchers have combined for only 31 games played in the Majors. It will be interesting to see how they handle the grind of everyday life at the big league level.
The Jays bullpen may have the most question marks heading into 2015. Newly acquired Marco Estrada will definitely be a welcome face in the bullpen, and Aaron Loup will look to have a bigger role with the team this season. Power pitcher Steve Delabar will be looking to improve on his terrible season last year. An all-star in 2013, the 31-year-old struggled at the start of the season and found himself at Triple-A Buffalo to finish the year. The Blue Jays are hoping Delabar can return to his all-star form and be the set-up man in the 8th inning.
Rounding out the bullpen are Kyle Drabek and Aaron Sanchez. Drabek is returning from Tommy John surgery in 2013 and could be the long man out of the bullpen for the Jays. He definitely has the chance to move into the rotation should Stroman or Norris struggle during the season. Sanchez is the wildcard in the bullpen. With the departure of Casey Janssen as closer, he could find himself being the everyday guy to close out games for Toronto. There definitely will be a battle between he Brett Cecil for the job as it looks like it may go to Cecil at the beginning of the year. But Sanchez closed out seven games for the team last season and will push hard for the job should Cecil falter during the year.
The journey will be long for the Jays. The Baltimore Orioles are the defending A.L East champs and will be favorites to win it again this season. The Boston Red Sox will surely look to improve on last year’s disappointing season and look to return to glory atop the baseball world. The Tampa Bay Rays are looking like a team in a rebuild, and the New York Yankees are starting to get old, but both teams are still contenders and will prove to be stiff competition for the Blue Jays all season. This year’s team will have a chance to contend for a playoff spot, but it will come down to health and how well the pitching staff pitches all season. It should be an interesting race to October in the highflying A.L. East.