Jays Better Than Expected, But AL East Too Tough

Sunday, March 10, 2019 6:52 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 10, 2019 6:52 PM UTC

The Blue Jays aren’t expected to do much in one of the top heaviest divisions in all of baseball. However, does that mean this will truly be a year where the Jays can’t compete for a record close to, or just above .500?

World Series Odds: (+10,000)American League Pennant Odds: (+5000)Season Win Total: (74.5)

Longer Wait For Vlad Guerrero Jr., Jays’ Prospects

The Blue Jays have been looking for any opportunity to delay the start of Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s major league career. That is mainly for their own benefit. If they Jays can keep Guerrero in the minors until around mid-April when he won’t accrue a full year of service time, they can guarantee they will have control over him for an extra year before he can reach free agency.

With the way Guerrero has been raking at all levels, the Jays were not going to look good by starting him in the minors, but recently they got the excuse they needed.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

#BlueJays say Vladimir Guerrero Jr., suffered a Grade 1 strain of left oblique Friday. Team estimates he'll need three weeks to recover.

— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) 10 de março de 2019
\n"}[/]

Guerrero suffered the injury on Friday and while three weeks is right up to the start of the season, the Jays will be able to say that he needs some rehab at bats before his callup. Guerrero is a once in a lifetime prospect and with the Jays not expected to do anything this season in a division with three clearly better teams, there is no reason to rush Guerrero up to the majors, especially after this recent injury.

However, once in the majors, Guerrero is going to rake. He put up a .978 OPS in Triple-A last season and along with some of the other bright spots in the Jays’ Triple-A system, they have some reason to be excited about this season.

Sean Reid-Foley and Ryan Borucki showed some flashes last season in starts toward the end of the year and Anthony Alford is having a huge spring. It may not be in 2019, but 2020 may be a reasonable timeline to think the Jays can get back to contention.

With that in mind, the story for the Jays may be a 2019 with an offense that is better than expected and starting pitching that fails to compete in a division full of heavy hitting offense.

Starting Pitching Issues

The Jays’ bullpen is pretty good. Ken Giles is a legit top 10 closer, while Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris are also strong set-up guys for the seventh and eighth innings. The problem will be getting to those guys with the lead. Playing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays 57 times in the year is not going to be easy on this staff.

Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are solid options but neither have developed into the roles they are expected to occupy this season. Stroman has a ton of upside but is coming off an injury-plagued and horrible season. If he can regain the form he had back in 2017 though, the Jays have a lot to be excited about with him as their ace.

Sanchez is another guy who has shown flashes, but has consistently struggled more the deeper he gets into his major league career. He played very well in 2015 and 2016, but over the last two seasons he has been average at best.

The Jays also went on a shopping spree at starting pitcher. They traded for Clayton Richard back in December and they signed Matt Shoemaker and Clay Buchholz earlier this offseason as well. All three of those guys could turn into solid back-half options for the Jays, or it could be a mixture of injury and poor play which leads the Jays to another rough season.

For me, their number is pretty sharp and while I’m tempted to bet the over, their starting pitching is preventing me from trusting them.

  • Season Win Total Pick: No Play

Talk Baseball on SBR's MLB Betting Forum
comment here