DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
by Quinn Sweetzir
The next game the Toronto Blue Jays play will actually matter. Finally. We have waited through the eventful beginning of the offseason, the prolonged end, and the annually underwhelming event that is spring training. Whether you’re excited for the beginning of the season or relieved that it’s finally here, it’s time to make predictions about the team on the field, where we know who’s going to be on that team. So, I present one bold prediction for every player on the 25 man roster (plus two more for players on the DL).
RP – Joe Biagini
After injuries, Biagini is forced to make a few spot starts throughout the season. He impresses enough to be given a rotation spot in place of one of the Jays pending free agent starters in 2018.
SP – Marco Estrada
An increase in Estrada’s BABIP is offset by the fact that his back is fully healthy, resulting in yet another good season from the veteran righty.
RP – Jason Grilli
John Gibbons uses Grilli as a traditional setup guy, which leads to some early season struggles, particularly against left handed hitters. However, a change in his usage results in a very successful second half.
SP – J.A. Happ
Though his performance is still decent, Happ is inconsistent throughout the season, which causes him to be left out of the Jays playoff rotation in October.
RP – J.P. Howell
Used mostly as a lefty specialist, Howell manages to be among the major league leaders in total games pitched, and proves to be worth much more than his 3 million offseason price.
RP – Dominic Leone
Leone spends most of the season shuttling up and down between the majors and AAA before ending up with a different organization by the seasons end.
SP – Francisco Liriano
In a contract year, Liriano has one of the best seasons of his career, and is good enough to be given starts in a playoff game. Liriano will also break the 200 inning total for the first time in his career.
RP – Aaron Loup
Thanks to the return of his velocity, Loup manages to return to his pre-2015 form and becomes an effective weapon out of the bullpen for the Jays by the seasons end.
CP – Roberto Osuna (DL)
Though Osuna’s performance is very good, a mid season arm injury causes him to miss significant time, which results in him losing the closers role before the end of the season.
SP – Aaron Sanchez
Though Sanchez still pitches well enough to be effective, he pitches worse than he did in 2016 by a wide margin, finishing with an ERA around 3.70.
RP – Joe Smith
The generically named right hander continues with his average and uneventful performance by pitching about 50 games with an ERA around 3.50
SP – Marcus Stroman
A newfound confidence for the young righty leads to a Cy Young caliber season from Stroman, who manages to record the most fWAR of any pitcher in the AL East.
RP – Ryan Tepera
Tepera dominates for a period of about 2 months before falling off a cliff and returning to his previous form, similarly to Bo Schultz in 2015.
IF – Darwin Barney
As the backup infielder, Barney plays well enough for the Jays front office to finally accept that Ryan Goins has no place on the Jays roster by midseason.
RF – Jose Bautista
After a relatively poor 2016, Bautista comes back at his best, and records a .260/.375/.500 triple slash with 30 dingers. Though his defense is far from perfect, it also improves from his dismal performance in 2016.
OF – Ezequiel Carrera
Playing most of his early season games as a backup outfielder, Carrera gains the starting left field job by May – only to lose it to Dalton Pompey when he goes through a massive slump in mid June.
3B – Josh Donaldson
Donaldson suffers from both minor injuries and a small decline in performance which leads to his worst season since 2012.
2B/SS – Ryan Goins
A surprise addition to the roster, Goins simply fails to hit, resulting in him being moved to another organization before the all-star break.
C – Russell Martin
Extra rest given to Martin because of the teams acquisition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia leads to a sizable increase in his performance, resulting in Martin’s best season since joining the Jays.
DH – Kendrys Morales
The power surge caused by moving to the first hitters park of his career causes Morales to set a new career high in home runs by the seasons end. Morales also plays the field more than he has in any season since 2010.
1B/OF – Steve Pearce
Though his performance doesn’t blow anyone away, Pearce manages to stay healthy for the entire season. This leads to about 3 fWAR from the newly signed free agent.
CF – Kevin Pillar
With his new found ability to take pitches, Pillar is able to become a feared hitter in the Jays lineup, becoming the leadoff hitter by the seasons end. This combined with his defense leads to a 7 fWAR season.
OF – Dalton Pompey (DL)
Though he starts the season in the minors, Pompey is called up to replace Carrera in mid june, and impresses enough to keep the starting left field job for the rest of the season.
C – Jarrod Saltalamacchia
The Jays new backup catcher plays well enough to keep Russell Martin fresh, and is a 1 fWAR improvement on Josh Thole’s 2016.
1B – Justin Smoak
Everyone’s least favorite Blue Jay struggles badly when given a full time role, and ends up being released after the Jays trade for a replacement at the trade deadline.
2B – Devon Travis
Although Travis manages to stay relatively healthy throughout the season, his performance declines. Travis will end up hitting somewhere around .265 and will lose his leadoff spot to Kevin Pillar by the seasons end.
SS – Troy Tulowitzki
Tulo regains much of the hitting ability he lost after his trade to Toronto, and he manages to be worth about 4 fWAR with a WRC+ around 115.