Do the young, talented Toronto Blue Jays have a better chance than we thought in this short 2020 season
Back when the MLB regular season was expected to be 162 games, not many baseball people gave the Toronto Blue Jays much of a chance to contend in 2020.
Now that the season will be only 60 games, their official odds have gone up.
Realistically, assuming they do defy the odds and make it in to the 2020 playoffs, I’m not expecting them to go too deep in to the playoffs. Not this season anyway.
When you look at championship teams, usually you see several players who are playing at an all star caliber level.
The Jays are building a talented core of young players who I believe will be part of contending Blue Jays teams in the future. The fab five of Vladimir Guerrero jr, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire were good for 7.1 fWAR in 406 games as rookies in 2019. Lourdes Gurriel jr looked like a different player on both sides of the ball once he was recalled from an early season demotion to AAA.
Then there are the others. Brandon Drury, Rowdy Tellez, Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Anthony Alford, Jonathan Davis, Derek Fisher and Billy McKinney. While there is talent in this group, their MLB results to date have been inconsistent at best.
The hope is that at least some of these players can take the next step forward in their career and be around to help future Jays teams with deep postseason runs. It’s what seasons like 2020 are meant to help determine.
In terms of the rotation, Toronto potentially has a very good 1-2 and possible 3rd option. Hyun-Jin Ryu is a legitimate staff ace, who led all of MLB in era in 2019. While Nate Pearson has yet to make his major league debut, MLB’s 8th ranked prospect looks ready to dominate big league hitters.
Matt Shoemaker had a very fine 1.57 era in five games with the Jays in 2019 until a freak injury ended his season. If he can perform anywhere close to that in 2020, Toronto could have three very strong rotation options.
Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. Guys with little or no MLB experience (Shun Yamaguchi, Anthony Kay, TJ Zeuch), guys who have dealt with injuries (Ryan Borucki), guys with inconsistent (Trent Thornton) or mediocre results (Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson).
In terms of the bullpen, Ken Giles is an excellent closer as long as he is healthy. He is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season and as I wrote a few months ago, Toronto should make him a competitive offer to extend his contract.
Beyond Giles, there aren’t any proven, reliable options. There are guys with potential. Jordan Romano, Rafael Dolis and Sean-Reid Foley could be used as high leverage inning pitchers to help bridge the gap from starters to closer Ken Giles. The bullpen as a group could go either way.
They have other talented prospects in their system with a good chance to help the team in the future. Jordan Groshans, Austin Martin, Alejandro Kirk, Alek Manoah and Simeon Woods Richardson are a few who come to mind. This group is likely 1-2 years away from being MLB ready.
A while back I wrote about the 2015 and 2016 Jays. As much fun as it was to finally have playoff baseball back after a 22 year drought, it was never realistic to expect a long run of competitive ball from that group. In terms of MLB players, they were too old to continue to be that good for too much longer.
The 2020 group is young, talented and improving, with other high upside prospects looking to join them at the major league level before too long. It’s very reasonable to think they could have a run of contending teams for a number of years to come.
These Blue Jays are just getting started.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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