DINGERS FROM THE 6IX
by Quinn Sweetzir
With the beginning of the long awaited MLB regular season, it is expected by many that the Toronto Blue Jays will be among the leagues better teams. With a generally talented roster - including a rather exceptional starting rotation - most projections believe that the Jays will be serious playoff and World Series contenders once again in 2017.
However, the same cannot be said for the San Diego Padres or the Cincinnati Reds. Both these teams project to be among the worst teams in baseball in 2017, and their starting rotations are both particularly appalling.
When you compare the rotation of a team like the Jays to either the Padres or Reds, you see that 1 through 5, Toronto’s rotation is simply exceptional when compared to the worst rotations in the league. But what would it take for Toronto’s rotation to perform as badly as Cincinnati's or San Diego’s?
In order to do this, we first must determine just how bad the weakest rotations in baseball are. Among the 5 (healthy) starters currently listed both San Diego’s and Cincinnati's depth chart, ZiPS projects them to earn 3.5 and 4.3 WAR respectively. In comparison, Aaron Sanchez on his own projects to be worth 3.6 WAR, which goes to show just how bad these rotations are.
As a team, the Jays starting five project to be worth about 12.8 WAR according to ZiPS, and that is despite the fact that there is a reasonable argument to be made that at least 4 of the Jays starting 5 could conceivably exceed these projections.
If Toronto was to provide a performance worse than that of San Diego or Cincinnati, each pitcher would have to be about 2 WAR worse than there already low projections. For this to happen, that the starters would have to perform accessible poorly.
Marco Estrada would have to resemble his 2014 form. Francisco Liriano would have to resemble last season's form before his trade to Toronto. Marcus Stroman would have to perform as he did in June of last season. Aaron Sanchez would have to perform similarly to how he did as a starter in 2015. J.A. Happ would have to perform worse than he did with the Jays in 2013. If all of the above happens, and no moves are made by Toronto’s front office, than the Jays rotation has a chance of performing worse than San Diego or Cincinnati.
Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be realistic, as both the eye-test and projections mean that this reality has such a small chance of happening, that it would be almost inconceivable. What this means is, the Jays can expect to see a solid job from their starting five in 2017, a job which may be good enough to propel them into a World Series ring.