30 in 30ish: MLB Preview — Toronto Blue Jays

 

Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the Toronto Blue Jays.Jose Bautista

After finishing in third place in the American League East last year, the Blue Jays made some trades in the offseason, looking to improve the team and possibly make a run for their first playoff appearance since the World Series-winning season of 1993. That plan may have gone off the rails in spring training, though, when SP Marcus Stroman, who was expected to be the No. 2 man in the rotation, suffered a season-ending ACL injury. The Jays may have look to outside the organization to fill Stroman’s spot in the rotation.

The Blue Jays had a strong offense last year, with two 30+ home-run hitters: 1B Edwin Encarnacion with 34 — in just 128 games — and 35 from OF Jose Bautista. The Jays are losing the two hitters who led the team in batting average last season, though, as DH Adam Lind was traded to the Brewers in exchange for pitcher Marco Estrada and OF Melky Cabrera signed with the White Sox. The pitching wasn’t as successful, finishing the season just below the league average with a decent 4.00 ERA. Veteran SPs R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, who each posted an ERA under 4.00 and combined for 27 wins, are returning to lead the rotation in 2015.

The team signed free-agent C Russell Martin, who hit .290 with 11 home runs with the Pirates last year, sliding Dioner Navarro to the DH spot to replace the departed Lind. And the team still has speedy SS Jose Reyes, a career .291 hitter, to help produce runs on the basepaths. Estrada is the team’s biggest offseason acquisition among pitchers. He was expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation and pitch out of the bullpen if he didn’t win a starting job, but the loss of Stroman for the season makes it more likely that Estrada will be a starter this season, joining the likes of Dickey and Buehrle.

The Blue Jays were expected to possibly compete for a playoff spot this year, but with Stroman out that could change. The Red Sox seem to be the best team in East, but second place in the division, and a possible wild card, is probably going to be up for grabs between the Blue Jays and Orioles. So although it’ll be harder for the Jays to end their playoff drought without Stroman, I don’t think it’ll be impossible.

Source: http://www.bluejays.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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