The Toronto Blue Jays enter another season of baseball after a promising 2013 campaign that ended in an ugly fashion. The 2014 roster appears to have a lot of Jays return to a nearly identical team to the one that went 74–88 last year.
The one positive aspect of last season’s major failure is that expectations have been reduced and fans are expecting far less of Canada’s only professional baseball team.
Pitching was the Blue Jays Achilles’ heel in 2013 as they had one of the worst starting rotations in the majors with only two pitchers claiming over 10 wins. The rotation has been slightly changed however, R.A. Dickey returns as the Jays’ ace starting pitcher.
Pitcher Josh Johnson joined the San Diego Padres over the winter. Drew Hutchison, who missed all of last season due to injuries, will replace him. Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow return from last year’s team, aiming for better results after a rough 2013 season. The fifth and final starter will be Dustin McGowan who pitched in the minors last year.
The incoming pitching rotation is going to force the offence to carry the Blue Jays to the playoffs.
The Blue Jays offence lives and dies by the one-two punch of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The two combined for over 60 home runs and nearly 200 runs scored. Both are coming off injury plagued seasons, but when Encarnacion and Bautista are healthy they are two of the very best players in the MLB.
Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera represent the next tier of talent on the Jays roster and are a great supporting cast for the star players. They will need great contributions from all facets of their offence to have a chance of challenging in the exceptionally difficult American League East division.
The toughest part of the Blue Jays’ 2014 season will be playing 19 games against their division rivals — the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Rays and the Orioles — all of whom had winning records last season. The Jays will have to play exceptionally well against these teams to have any shot at the playoffs. However, in all likelihood, this will be another season where the Jays finish in last place in the AL East.
Knowing that the Jays will probably be hard pressed to make the playoffs, this is a perfect year to see what the future holds for the team. There are a few Blue Jays prospects to look out for this season. Aaron Sanchez is a young pitcher who throws hard but at times lacks control of his pitches. Another young pitcher, Marcus Stroman, is also expected to make his debut with the Blue Jays in 2014.
Overall, the Blue Jays look as though they will have a tough season ahead of them. They need to stay healthy and hope for one of the main AL East opponents to falter.
The Jays have not made the playoffs since 1993 and it looks as if the lengthy drought will continue. They need big contributions from Bautista, Encarnacion and Hutchison to contend in the highly competitive AL East division.
The Blue Jays began their season on March 31 and will continue to play all through the summer.
Photo: Keith Allison/flickr