The Boston Red Sox have some division competition this April and it is not the New York Yankees. Let’s take a look at the surprising Toronto Blue Jays.
What is going on with Toronto Blue Jays? Toronto was generally considered a team that was in transition – a polite way of saying they were retooling for the future. But the future seems now as the Jays are 11-5 (.688) ball through April 17. In 2017, the Jays finished 80-82 and the Boston Red Sox treated the boys from the North like a rented mule winning 13 games against just six losses.
What happened? What magic is taking place? Was a deal consummated with the devil? This is essentially the same team presented to the masses in 2017 or did they resuscitate via genetic manipulation the great Jays teams of the early 1990s? This is a projected .500 club.
I went to the source of all sources for the inherent lazy – like myself – and that is FanGraphs to take a look at the collective, The Jays are eighth in the American League in offense. Maybe it’s the pitching? But, again, nothing special and the Jays are ranked ninth in the AL.
Everything starts with pitching and the Jays have a decent starting rotation. J.A. Happ once won 20 games (2016) and the lefty may be back in form after a dismal 2017. Happ is joined by fellow left-hander Jaime Garcia who pitched for three teams last season. Garcia is a lower rotation pitcher whose FIP (5.44) certainly sheds light on his 3.86 ERA.
The Jays have two righties – Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman – who have yet to rise to that next plateau. Both have the potential to be top of the rotation starters if injuries and performance inconsistency disappear. Marco Estrada and Joe Biagini – recently recalled – round out the front line.
The bullpen has a healthy Roberto Osuna and the 23-year-old righty is a stud closer. The rest of the bullpen consists of the usual suspects such as veterans Tyler Clippard, Aaron Loup, and Ryan Tepera.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Measuring the pitching of the Red Sox and Jays it is not even close. Boston’s rotation has more depth and experience. The Jays rotation currently resides in 14th place in the AL and the bullpen is fifth.
Will Josh Donaldson stay with the Jays? The former MVP is on the DL and often mentioned as a trade target as this is his free agent year. The DL also has two veterans sitting out. The first is hard-hitting Kendrys Morales and the second is Troy Tulowitzki who may be done for most of 2018.
In 2017, the Jays had an offense that scored 693 runs – lowest in the American League. The team posted a 9.6 fWAR. This offense has not dramatically changed over the winter and the defense is still questionable with a -12.6 UZR/150.
Never dismiss an opponent and the Red Sox have three games coming up with the Jays. The Jays may still be hot and may not. The same certainly applies to the blazing Red Sox, but over the marathon, schedule projections have a way of becoming a predicted reality. I hope not.
A strong Jays team is excellent for the division. It creates balance and fosters interest. The Jays have several prospects of note and some may surface this summer, but in the short-term, we’ll get our first look at Toronto next week.