An Optimistic Look At The 2019 Jays

I came up with the idea to do an optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic take on the 2019 Jays season. I ran it past Cam a couple of weeks ago and he was all in on us doing this before the season begins in two weeks. So, let’s get at the optimistic Jays take and how this season could actually be a lot of fun because the club isn’t that bad when you compare it to the pile of shitty American League teams it will be competing against. Cam or I will post the ‘realistic’ and ‘pessimistic’ takes this week.  

I know that the Jays don’t have a chance to win it all – optimism can only stretch so far. I wish they could rip and roar winning the AL East, sweeping the ALDS and ALCS. Nothing would make me happier than typing up some World Series hype thoughts. Let’s hope those thoughts are only a 2021 away. Now, it might be easier to hold up the ‘rebuild’ white flag through every ‘character building win and loss’, all the while accepting this year as Captain Charlie’s plain sailing 2019. But, that doesn’t mean that hope is lost.

The truth is that the American League is going to be pretty boring considering that the Tier 1 teams, who I probably don’t need to mention but I will for the sake of doing a thorough job, are going to win their divisions. The ‘Stros, the Cleveland franchise, shitty Boston, and the dumb Yankees are all going to make it to the post-season again this year. It’s going to be a dull repeat of 2018 with either Boston or New York murdering whatever team slides into the second wild card spot.

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So I think the optimistic question isn’t who is going to run into the Yankees or Red Sox and lose just like the A’s did last Fall, but instead, who is going to surprise the hell out of the MLB world like the 2007 Colorado Rockies did as they set fire to a pessimistic fan base with one of the most memorable runs in MLB history? Maybe this type of team isn’t realistic in the 2019 American League, but for the sake of crazy optimism maybe it’s the…Jays.

The reality is that FanGraphs has projected that the Minnesota Twins or Oakland A’s will be competing for that coveted get-murdered-by-New-York-or-Boston wild card spot. The Yankees have a 96.9 percent chance of making the post-season, followed by Houston (94.9%), Cleveland (94.5%), and Boston (90.6%) – but we already know this is what’s *probably* going to happen.

Now, they have the Twins with a 35.3 percent chance of sliding into that second wild card spot, followed by Marco A-strada’s A’s with 32.9%. Here’s where they have the Jays:

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So the Jays have a 3 percent chance of getting choke slammed by shitty Boston or dumb New York in a Wild Card game – fun times. It sure is hard to get drunk on the Jays chances this year. But, that’s not going to stop me from taking some hard swigs from the Jays-won’t-be-as-bad-as-you-think bottle. Swig hard, crush tall cans. Maybe if the Jays slide into that second wild card spot, they have a shot at being on the right side of the randomness of playoff baseball.

Last year, FanGraphs loved the shit out of the Jays. Here’s a visual to remind you of what they predicted before the season went sideways and rolled around in the dirt.

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So near the end of April, after the Jays’ great start to the 2018 campaign, FanGraphs showed that the Jays had a 50 percent chance of making the post season. We were all high on Solarte and the backpack kid dancing Jays. But, things can go south fast in baseball, even though it’s a long slow season.

Now, I think there is plenty of reason to be optimistic this season – seriously. Let me be crystally clear: I’m not dumb with unrealistic optimism and I know that the Jays are not going to win the World Series this season. And that’s what it’s all about. But, they do have a better chance than the 3% that FanGraphs gives Charlie and the kids of getting that final wild card spot.

There are a whole lot of ifs that have to happen for the Jays to be in the race in July, but there is no reason that these ifs can’t happen. If Aaron Sanchez returns to the 2016 Sanchez we all know he is, the Jays have just added an ace to the rotation – an ace that was missing for the past two seasons. If Stroman continues to be as steady as he always is, the Jays could have two of the best pitchers in the American League. Last year, even though many Jays fans howled that Stroman was garbage, he actually wasn’t at all: 2016 3.71 FIP, 2017 3.90 FIP, and 2018 3.91 FIP.

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So, with Sanchez and Stroman rolling and with the addition of Shoemaker, who in 2014 went 16 – 4 and posted a 3.26 FIP, the Jays could have a pretty damn good front of the rotation. And the backend doesn’t look too bad at all with Ryan Borucki plus any of the very capable depth arms who could fill in as the 5th man. With the recent additions of Buchholz and Richard, and with the youth in Buffalo from Sean Reid-Foley, or Pannone, or even Thornton – it’s really not too bad at all. It’s better than Mat fucking Latos.

If the rotation can shake, rattle, and roll like Bill Haley and his Comets, the ‘pen has more than enough talent to close out some ballgames – that’s for sure. Giles and company offer plenty of options for Captain Charlie and with all the arms in Buffalo, there really isn’t any reason to think that there isn’t a charcuterie board of meat for Charlie to pick at all season.

When Vlad gets called up, the Jays will add a thicc bat into their lineup. And if Grichuck can continue where he left off last year and if Teoscar can learn how to play the outfield and if Alford or Pompey can contribute in some way and if Bill McKid can be productive and if Lourdes can be super-utility awesome and if Morales can be the veteran the team needs and crush a few balls and if you mix in some Galvis defence, a little Smoak, and some Danny Jansen magic (and maybe a little Bo), then maybe…just maybe this Jays team is better than the Twins and A’s. Maybe we’ll all be drunk on second wild card talk in September.

Charlie and the kids (and some of his vets) might actually not be too bad at all this year. Shit, they might actually be good. Either way, it will be fun to watch Vlad this season and some of the large adult sons, as Charlie teaches championship baseball in 2019. As optimistic as I have been in this post, there is no chance these Jays win a championship this year, but the bricks are being laid down baby. Maybe those bricks lead to a flag that flies forever.

  • dolsh

    I would honestly not be suprised if the team finished at .500 this year – if the pitching lives up to promise (perhaps top third in baseball is achievable? I think it is). The team should score some runs – probably middle of the pack or lower, but Vlad, Jansen, Smoak, Grichuk, Hernandez, and Gurriel can all light up some fireworks.

    I’m really looking forward to this team, and I suspect a .500 finish could do wonders for their confidence in 2020.

    • Ryan Di Francesco

      I agree man. I had a couple of drinks to get me happy to write this post, but it was actually easier to write than I thought it would be. I’m not sure how many wins it will take to get the second wild card. But, after the Tier 1 teams, the American League is really shitty. I’d put a little cash on this club playing .500 ball and building some character doing it.

  • Jeff2sayshi

    I’ve kinda been going back and forth on this team. I started real down, then got real high on them, and now am somewhere in the middle. I believe in the pitching. I think Sanchez/Stroman/Borucki/Bucholz will be good. I think overlooking what Sam Gaviglio has been doing would be a mistake.

    I’m not sold on the bullpen. I think there will be many tense bullpen moments.

    Also have no idea what to make of the everyday players. Too many are boom/bust players. I worry leaving the kids down too long will haunt this year’s team.

    The one reason worth being pessimistic is the schedule. The Jays have to play the Yankees/Red sox 36 times. And overlooking the Rays is a huge mistake.

    In the end I think this team isn’t 100 loss territory, but will be a lot of heartbreak.

    • Ryan Di Francesco

      It’s going to be a character building year. And, I agree, holding the kids down this season would be a mistake. But, yeah, all those games against the Yankees, Sox, and Rays are tough. The optimistic me likes to think they win 80 plus games and Sanchez has a great year. But, sadly, the American League will be a dull repeat of last year. All eyes on the NL – that’s where the real fun is.