Blue Jays: 5 spring training conversations worth more time
By Craig Borden
#3 – Who is Marco Estrada (Season 2, Episode 1)
What has Marco Estrada been up to? After securing a a 2 year $26 million dollar deal, he quickly vanished from the Blue Jays cycle. The Estrada signing could look very team friendly, however, if he continues to perform like he did last season.
Remember this one for a second: At this time last year, most were afraid to put Estrada into the starting rotation and had him slated for the bullpen. Daniel Norris was the 5th starter for the Blue Jays entering last season, whereas Estrada did not get his first start until May 5th.
So what does Estrada do for an encore this season, and was that success sustainable? Last year was an incredible year for Estrada where he had career highs in wins, ERA, and innings pitched. The season even landed him in the Cy Young award voting at number 10 as opposing batters only hit .203 against him. That was the lowest opposing batting average against in the American League. Estrada was also one of the teams best starters in the postseason and came up huge in his 3 starts. He held hitters to a 2.44 ERA in the playoffs.
Most projection systems have Estrada projected for a huge slide. FanGraphs Steamer projections have Estrada slated for a 10-10 record over 165 innings. His ERA is projected to be a 4.44 which is an outrageous jump from the 3.13 ERA he posted in 2015.
The question going forward is did Estrada finally really put everything together or did he just have a good year buoyed by good luck? Did he benefit from having a plus defense behind him, and can he again? No matter how you slice it, Toronto has Estrada for the next 2 seasons and any production close to what he put up in 2015 will be welcomed.
Next: #2: Looking at the top. Hail the King, baby