The staff at Jays From the Couch got together to bring you our predictions for the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays season
The Toronto Blue Jays are about to begin the 2017 season: the quest for a third straight postseason appearance. Ultimately, the goal is to improve upon an ALCS exit. But, to get there, 162 games have to be played and 6 months of ups and downs need to take place. In that span, just about anything can happen. It is baseball, after all.
With that in mind, the staff of Jays From the Couch got together and came up with what we expect to see during that 6 month span. While you are likely to come across many prediction pieces at this time of year, we tried to avoid the typical Player X will hit Y number of home runs. Instead, we offer up some other instances we think will play out. Feel free to comment on these, or offer up your own predictions in the comment section.
Ryan Mueller is a ray of sunshine:
The Toronto Blue Jays will come out of the gate slow. Gibby will take the first 20 games figuring out his bullpen. Roberto Osuna will miss most of the year with a shoulder injury. Joe Biagini will take over for Jason Grilli who will get the first chance at the closer’s role. Jose Bautista will hit more HR than Edwin Encarnacion and Kendrys Morales will look like a steal with a 30/100 season. Russell will have a mixed bag season. He will see his HR totals dip but see more base hits as he looks to decrease his strike outs. Kevin Pillar will lead the team in SB and doubles. Marcus Stroman will lead the Jays in wins. Marco Estrada will battle back issues, exposing the Jays’ lack of SP depth. Aaron Sanchez will struggle with walks and take a baby step backwards in his quest to becoming Toronto’s ACE. Rowdy Tellez will be called up July 1st and Justin Smoak will be DFA’ed. Tellez will struggle at time but while finish the year strong.
Roy Widrig finds lots in his crystal ball:
Bullpen: The Toronto-Buffalo express will continue to do big business, shuffling back Danny Barnes and Tim Mayza before Barnes sticks and finally breaks out at age 27 as this year’s Joe Biagini. Osuna struggles through the summer months, burns out, but comes back after a midsummer DL stint to save a total of 40 games in 2016.
Rotation: Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ take minor steps back, while Marcus Stroman pitches to a 3.75ish ERA throughout the season. Estrada continues to struggle with back issues and lands on the DL a pair of times, but still puts in a solid season all around. The Francisco Liriano Renaissance continues, though some six-walk, 8 earned run games threaten the Jays’ place in the standings.
Offense: Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton Jr. will continue toiling in mediocrity, but Jays wait until the deadline to address their woes, and ultimately decide on Tellez and Chris Coghlan, who don’t exactly meet expectations. Josh Donaldson makes another run at MVP, but finishes behind lesser seasons from Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and Jose Altuve.
The AL East is much closer than expected, but shakes out similar to 2016. Playoffs go exactly as they did in 2016, with Cleveland winning the AL.
*prediction made before rumor of Upton leaving town surfaced
Jeff Quattrociocchi keeps it simple:
Tellez will get more than 35 PAs. Jose will produce just enough value (around 2.5 WAR) for the Jays to want to exercise the mutual option, but not so good that he’d want to become a free agent. Steve Pearce will finish Top 5 in 1B WAR. Pillar will crack a 5% walk rate for the first time.
Catherine Stem keeps it real:
While I think the Blue Jays will play well enough right out of the gate, I think they’ll be working out kinks in the bullpen early on. It will also give Martin time to work on Jarrod Saltamacchia’s framing. Carrera will have a come back to earth year and Pearce will find himself filling the hole in left field. Early summer will find Smoak DFA’d and Tellez called up. I’m thinking fewer overall home runs but more RBIs, and another post season 🙂
[UPDATE] Ryan Andrews adds a late prediction
Estrada and Happ won’t be able to match last year’s production but will still be effective, while Stroman has a lights out year and and joins Sanchez as the Flash Brothers atop the rotation. Liriano will not steal Cy Young votes as one ESPN writer predicted. One of Smith, Howell or Grilli will not end the year in the BlueJays bullpen, but it’s fine because the true Blue Jays redemption story is Aaron Loup, who finally establishes himself as a full-fledged MLB LOOGY. Danny Barnes will be back and pitching for the club permanently by July.
Kendrys will make fans forget about Edwin within two months. Angry Jose Bautista makes like Angry Tom Brady and mashes the league. Troy Tulowitzki finally starts to hit like Rockies Tulo, but Russell Martin regresses. Steve Pearce plays well enough to DFA Smoak by July. Melky Cabrera gets reacquired to fill the LF hole at the deadline. Chris Coghlan will take out Rougned Odor with a hard slide and the brawling will start anew.
Division Predictions: Boston, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, Cubs, Colorado.
Wild Card: Blue Jays over Astros, Dodgers over Mets
ALCS: Blue Jays over Cleveland
NLCS: Washington over Chicago
World Series: Washington over Blue Jays
Doyle wraps it up
Manager, John Gibbons, will have several options at several positions as the year plays out and that will be more of a problem to start the season. It will be a case of having too many options. He will have to do the old trial and error, which he will call ‘going with the hot hand’. That will be more evident in the bullpen as Biagini will be given more of a workload as the only real “longman” out of the ‘pen. There will be a rough patch for the relievers as Gibby tries to work out everyone’s role.
The offense will have its rough patches, but they will be just as good as they should be. Everyone will be around their career norms, with Bautista shutting up all the doubters. He won’t be his 2011 self, but he will perform well enough for his option decision to be a running take this summer. Brace yourselves. In fact, the age of this whole roster will continue to be a thing, especially in times of struggles. But, overall, they will be able to prove that narrative to be a sieve of an argument.
The rotation will be just as solid as we expect them to be with Stroman shining this year. He will play like a fiend and continue to lead the league in groundballs and swagger. He will battle Sanchez for the staff ace moniker, and we will all enjoy the show. Estrada will gut out another season of fighting his back issues. Liriano will be the surprise of the AL, even though we shouldn’t be surprised. Look for the club’s lack of starting depth become an issue by June.
Pearce and Morales will prove to be a steal as the club finds themselves battling for the division lead with the Wild Card locked up.
*Feautred Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.