Our MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, takes an early look at the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays have the pieces to stay in the mix, but there's one injury concern that could affect your betting habits.
As the 2018 MLB season nears, we will break down each division team-by-team to identify futures value and upcoming betting trends. Today we look at the Toronto Blue Jays out of the AL East. The Blue Jays sank well under their 84.5-win total line with a 76-win season in 2017. The market has adjusted in 2018 with a win total line set at 81 at Bovada.Pitching Staff
The Blue Jays have one clear No. 1 in their rotation with Marcus Stroman, who put up a 3.09 ERA and 3.90 FIP in 2017. However, Stroman struggled with allowing home runs to the tune of a 17.8-percent HR/FB rate. Maybe he is not such a clear-cut ace after all, as he lost his arbitration case in mid-February for a raise. The Blue Jays have a stable of average veterans behind Stroman, which should keep them competitive throughout the year. They recently picked up Jaime Garcia, who if can stay healthy all year should blow past his 1.4 WAR projection.
Robert Osuna is solidly in the closer's role in the bullpen, and his 1.74 FIP in 2017 was much better than his 3.38 ERA indicated. He also allowed only a 5.8-percent HR/FB rate, which is lower than average. Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera are relievers who don’t give up the long ball. This should be a source of strength in the competitive AL East.
Josh Donaldson has been the heart and soul of the Toronto lineup since coming over from Oakland in 2015. Fresh off a 5 WAR season, Donaldson will be on a one-year, $23 million contract for 2018. He played in only 113 games in 2017, so a full season should have him putting up his projected 6.2 WAR with ease. Behind Donaldson, the Blue Jays have added some role players who should round out the lineup. Yangervis Solarte is the most interesting of these, with a 2.8 WAR season under his belt in 2016 with the Padres. He’ll fill in at second base and give Donaldson some at bats in the DH spot.Wild Cards and Betting Trends
It’s funny we have gotten this far into a Blue Jays article without mentioning shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but here we are. He’s already having injury issues this spring with a troublesome bone spur in his heel. Tulo is not projected to return to his 5+ WAR form of old, but if the 33-year-old can stay healthy for the entire season, the Blue Jays could be a wild-card team. I would wait until finding out if Tulo will break camp healthy and happy, and if so the Blue Jays could be an "over" team total wager worth playing.