Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman could return to form and finally be the excellent one-two punch we expected them to be back in 2015. Clay Buchholz and Matt Shoemaker could have strong, healthy seasons and give the Jays a very competent rotation. Vlad Jr. could come up after his service time assignment and kick the door down, smashing his way to an All-Star season. Behind Vlad, Danny Jansen and Lourdes Gurriel could also have breakout seasons. Justin Smoak, Randal Grichuk, Kendrys Morales, and Teoscar Hernandez could all 20 bombs and the Jays could have a very formidable lineup. Charlie Montyo could turn out to be a genius, getting hypnotists before each game to tell the batters to lay off bad pitches.
All the Jays need is for everything to go right. That’s all it takes! Sounds easy, right? Well, let me be the first to tell you… This is baseball. Nothing ever goes right. The sport is designed to rip out your heart and crush your soul. Let’s take out our official Arby’s pessimist glasses and talk about what the season could look like if everything goes wrong.
As I said, we’ve been waiting for Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman to become a one-two punch at the top of the starting rotation for years. Is there any reason to believe this is actually going to happen? Sanchez’s career has been totally derailed due to finger issues. Even when he has been healthy over the past couple years, his peripheral numbers (lack of command, struggling after the first time through the order) aren’t inspiring. Stroman dealt with some bad luck last season (due largely to Toronto’s horrendous team defence) but he seems to be actively talking his way out of the organization’s long-term plans.
The worst case scenario with these two is another bad, injury-riddled season that gutters their trade value. Sanchez’s blister flares up again and his career as a starter gets put in doubt and Stroman gets BABIP’s to death and he tweets out a conspiracy video that Mark Shapiro wants to relocate the Blue Jays to Mexico City. Neither player can warrant a good return at the deadline or the off-season and they’re both traded for middling, Julian Merryweather-ass calibre prospects from Cleveland’s system next July.
The rest of the pitching staff has a lot more wild cards than sure things. Is Ryan Borucki actually as good as his 3.87 ERA in 16 starts indicates? His strikeout to walk numbers would indicate otherwise. Can Buchholz and Shoemaker have healthy seasons? Three of Toronto’s five projected starters have a pretty hard time staying healthy. Things can spiral out of control quickly if your starters get hurt, so we might be watching Mat Latos and Nick Tepesch types making starts in August.
The biggest cause for excitement around this team comes, of course, from the rookies. While Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel, and, to an extent, Teoscar Hernandez and Billy McKinney are interesting long-term players, the real reason for excitement is Vlad.
Vlad won’t travel north with the team right out of the gate but he’ll be up at some point in April or May. Given the hype, anything less than a Hall of Fame career would be disappointing for the Large Adult Son. The pressure is massive and we all just assume he can handle it because his dad is one of the best hitters of all time.
But what if he can’t handle it? This is a player who has never really had a cold streak at any level in his career and maybe he gets overwhelmed by Big League pitching and it all spirals out of control from there. Maybe the baseball gods decide that the jays deserve to be punished for manipulating Vlad’s service time, and plague the franchise with horrible luck all season. Maybe Shapiro trades him to Cleveland because that was his big master plan all along.
What if Major League Baseball decides to air every single game on Facebook? What if we wake up tomorrow morning and our wives have all left us? What if we find out that we’re all living in a simulation and Vlad Jr. isn’t even real?
I’m obviously being mostly facetious here because everything isn’t going to go wrong. I mean, lots of unfortunate things will happen over the course of a 162-game marathon, like injuries and prolonged cold streaks, but the baseball gods aren’t going to curse the Blue Jays nor is Mark Shapiro actively conspiring against the organization like a hilariously large section of this fanbase would have you believe.
Still, given the fact baseball is a cold, heartless bastard, it’s very reasonable to expect for more things to go wrong than right.
- The pitching rotation could very easily be bad if Sanchez, Shoemaker, and Buchholz all struggle with injuries.
- Vlad Jr. might not come out of the gate swinging like we expect him to and he could struggle to adapt to the Major League level.
- Same goes for guys like Danny Jansen and Lourdes Gurriel, who could struggle in their first full big league season.
- Returns on trades for players who maybe don’t fit in the organization’s contention window like Sanchez, Stroman, and Ken Giles could be poor.
- The $5 beer could taste really bad and the lines could be really long.
Woof. That wasn’t fun to type up. Like with Ryan’s overly optimistic piece, this overly pessimistic piece isn’t actually realistic. I do believe it’s better to hope for the best and expect the worst in order to not set yourself up for endless disappointment when it comes to following sports, but actively expecting implosions from Stroman and Sanchez, poor rookie seasons from Vlad and Co, and for Facebook to be using MLB broadcasts to plot our eventual demise just overly negative.
Anyways, I feel dizzy dreaming up all that could go wrong this season, so I’ll be back later this week for a realistic look at the 2019 season.