2018 TORONTO BLUE JAYS CAPSULE

MANAGER: JOHN GIBBONS

2017 RECORD: 76-86

HOME RECORD: 42-39

ROAD RECORD: 34-47

2018 PREDICTION: 3RD AL EAST

 

TEAM INFO:

Rogers Centre

OPENED: 1989

LEFT: 328

CENTER: 400

RIGHT: 328

 

SEASON OPENER:  MARCH 29 vs. NY Yankees

 

FIVE YEAR WINNING TREND:

2013: 74

2014: 83

2015: 93

2016: 89

2017: 76

 

2018 PLAYERS TO WATCH ( 2017 NUMBERS )

3B Josh Donaldson, 33 HR, 78 RBI

DH Kendrys Morales, 28 HR, 85 RBI

1B Justin Smoak, 38 HR, 90 RBI

OF Steve Pearce, 13 HR

CF Kevin Pillar, 16 HR, 15 SB

SS Troy Tulowitzki, 7 HR, 26 RBI

C Russell Martin, 13 HR, 35 RBI

P Marcus Stroman, 13 – 9, 3.09 ERA, 160 4K

P Marco Estrada, 10 – 9, 4.98 ERA, 170 6K

P AJ Happ, 10 – 11, 3.53 ERA, 140 2K

P Roberto Osuna, 39 SV

P Ryan Tepera, 7 – 1, 3.59 ERA

 

2018 TOP PROSPECTS

3B Vladimir Guerrero

SS Bo Bichette

CF Anthony Alford

RHP Nate Pearson

SS Lourdes Gurriel

C Danny Jansen

SS Logan Warmouth

SS Richard Urena

LHP Ryan Borucki

RHP TJ Zeuch

 

TORONTO BY THE NUMBERS

0-Times above .500 for Toronto last season

25- Players that spent time on the DL last season

1,415- Game lost to injuries

60- Players used by the Blue Jays last season

693- Runs scored by Toronto..the fewest in the AL

170- K’s by Jose Baistista, the most by a Blue Jay in a single season

10- Saves blown by Roberto Osuna

0.859- WHIP by Osuna

9.22- K/BB rate by Osuna

8- Starts made by 2016 ERA leader Aaron Sanchez

8- HR’s by Teoscar Hernandez in September, setting a rookie Toronto record

5- Triples by the Jays, fewest by any team in MLB history

10- 9th inning HR’s by Justin Smoak

.606- Josh Donaldson’s SLG% in the 2nd half of the season, leading the AL

9.2- Ezequiel Carrera’s walk rate. It was 4.1

62.1- Marcus Stroman’s ground ball percentage

3.6- walk rate % by Roberto Osuna, lowest among AL relievers

 

Infield depth to be sorted at Blue Jays camp

TORONTO — There will be plenty of positional battles to keep an eye on this spring, but the most important one of all for the Blue Jays might be taking place in the infield.

Toronto had a pretty quiet offseason following a 76-win campaign in the American League East. Instead of making a major addition, general manager Ross Atkins focused on depth, and there’s where Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz come into play.

The Blue Jays appear to have a starting infield of Justin Smoak, Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson set in stone. The problem is, that was the plan each of the past two seasons as well, when both Travis and Tulowitzki went down for significant periods of time.

The additions of Solarte and Diaz provide the club with more insurance in case history repeats itself once again. Instead of at-bats going to the light-hitting duo of Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney, the Blue Jays will turn to a pair of hitters who each have at least one season with an OPS above .800 on their resumes.

Travis is still rehabbing from last year’s knee surgery, but he remains optimistic about being ready for Opening Day. If Travis starts the year on time, then the exact roles Solarte and Diaz will have this season gets a little murky. Toronto has to decide whether to carry two utility infielders and one backup outfielder, or, one utility infielder and two outfielders.

That decision likely will decide Diaz’s fate at the start of the season. Unlike Solarte, Diaz has options remaining on his contract, and he could be sent to the Minors without having to clear waivers. Ezequiel Carrera also is out of options, and likely would have to be released if he does not crack the 25-man roster.

Regardless of the exact configuration, Solarte and Diaz will be battling it out this spring for the top utility spot, and the competition will not be limited to one position. Diaz likely holds the edge at shortstop with 174 appearances over two years for the Cardinals — and a 2016 All-Star appearance — but Solarte has played there 36 times before.

The early favorite at second base, if Travis can’t find a way to get fully healthy, seems to be Solarte. He has 140 games at the position over four years, and he comes with a lifetime .746 OPS. Solarte’s numbers dipped in 2017 but the previous season he finished with a .286/.341/.467 slash line over 128 games.

On the surface, Solarte and Diaz would seem like possible platoon candidates in the event that Travis went down, but they aren’t necessarily a great match. Both hitters have posted better numbers vs. right-handed pitching than lefties. Diaz has an .836 OPS in his career against right-handers, but only a .686 OPS off lefties. Solarte has a .766 OPS vs. righties and a .693 OPS vs. lefties.

The early advantage as the primary backup at third base also appears to belong to Solarte. The native of Venezuela has played more third than any of his other four positions combined, so he becomes the logical candidate to fill in whenever Donaldson needs a day off his feet.

In an ideal world, the Blue Jays could use Diaz as the primary option at shortstop behind Tulowitzki. Solarte would become the primary backup at second and third, and there’s even a chance he could see some occasional playing time in left field. Versatility will be key for Toronto this season, but exactly how Solarte and Diaz fit in by the time Opening Day rolls around on March 29 remains to be seen.

Unless there’s a major injury, the Blue Jays won’t be able to carry Diaz, Solarte and Carrera. Luckily, Toronto has another six weeks to figure it all out.

 

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING

The Jays will count on their rotation even more this season to stay competitive in the AL East. If Aaron Sanchez comes back strong and Marcus Stroman remains solid, the Jays will have a chance. Marco Estrada and JA Happ are solid mid-rotation guys. Reliever Roberto Osuna blew 10 saves and that is a concern. Staying away from injuries will be a huge key after losing 25 players to the DL last season. C Russell Martin and SS Troy Tulowitzki are getting older and their health is a concern. With Josh Donaldson in the middle of the order, the Jays have some power. Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales will also supply power now that the Jays have cut ties with Jose Bautista. Toronto enters the 2018 season with the tools to compete for a wild-card spot. The season could easily go wrong if they can’t stay injury free. The potential is there.

 

ROSTER

#                           Name    B/T         Ht           Wt          DOB

24                          Danny Barnes     L/R         6’1″        195lbs   21/10/89

31                          Joe Biagini           R/R        6’5″        240lbs   29/05/90

56                          Ryan Borucki      L/L         6’4″        175lbs   31/03/94

50                          Matt Dermody   R/L         6’5″        190lbs   04/07/90

25                          Marco Estrada   R/R        6’0″        180lbs   05/07/83

44                          Taylor Guerrieri R/R        6’2″        210lbs   01/12/92

33                          J.A. Happ             L/L         6’5″        205lbs   19/10/82

62                          Aaron Loup         L/L         5’11”      210lbs   19/12/87

58                          Tim Mayza          L/L         6’3″        220lbs   15/01/92

54                          Roberto Osuna  R/R        6’2″        215lbs   07/02/95

45                          Thomas Pannone             L/L         6’0″        195lbs   28/04/94

36                          Carlos Ramirez   R/R        6’5″        205lbs   24/04/91

41                          Aaron Sanchez   R/R        6’4″        215lbs   01/07/92

6                            Marcus Stroman               R/R        5’8″        180lbs   01/05/91

52                          Ryan Tepera       R/R        6’2″        195lbs   03/11/87

Catchers

#                           Name    B/T         Ht           Wt          DOB

9                            Danny Jansen     R/R        6’2″        225lbs   15/04/95

21                          Luke Maile          R/R        6’3″        225lbs   06/02/91

55                          Russell Martin    R/R        5’10”      205lbs   15/02/83

77                          Reese McGuire  L/R         5’11”      215lbs   02/03/95

Infield

#                           Name    B/T         Ht           Wt          DOB

1                            Aledmys Diaz     R/R        6’1″        195lbs   01/08/90

20                          Josh Donaldson R/R        6’1″        210lbs   08/12/85

13                          Lourdes Gurriel  R/R        6’2″        185lbs   19/10/93

61                          Gift Ngoepe        R/R        5’8″        200lbs   18/01/90

14                          Justin Smoak      S/L         6’4″        220lbs   05/12/86

26                          Yangervis Solarte             S/R         5’11”      205lbs   07/07/87

22                          Rowdy Tellez      L/L         6’4″        220lbs   16/03/95

29                          Devon Travis      R/R        5’9″        190lbs   21/02/91

2                            Troy Tulowitzki  R/R        6’3″        205lbs   10/10/84

7                            Richard Urena    S/R         6’0″        185lbs   26/02/96

Outfield

#                           Name    B/T         Ht           Wt          DOB

30                          Anthony Alford  R/R        6’1″        215lbs   20/07/94

3                            Ezequiel Carrera               L/L         5’11”      185lbs   11/06/87

18                          Curtis Granderson            L/R         6’1″        200lbs   16/03/81

15                          Randal Grichuk   R/R        6’1″        205lbs   13/08/91

37                          Teoscar Hernandez          R/R        6’2″        180lbs   15/10/92

28                          Steve Pearce      R/R        5’11”      200lbs   13/04/83

11                          Kevin Pillar          R/R        6’0″        205lbs   04/01/89

23                          Dalton Pompey  S/R         6’2″        195lbs   11/12/92

27                          Dwight Smith Jr.               L/R         5’11”      195lbs   26/10/92

Designated Hitters

#                           Name    B/T         Ht           Wt          DOB

8                            Kendrys Morales              S/R         6’1″        225lbs   20/06/83