Blue Jays Series Preview: Stroman vs. Archer kicks off the 2016 campaign

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Oct 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) reacts after the sixth inning in game three of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) reacts after the sixth inning in game three of the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Across the Diamond

For those that are choosing the Rays as a potential surprise team in the AL East, I don’t see it. I really like their rotation; it’s young, it’s very talented, it’s fairly experienced for how youthful it is, and if Matt Moore can return to a form similar to his pre-TJ form, it will be very strong. However, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi battled injuries last year to join the injury risk in Moore. Although Blake Snell looks nearly ready to produce at the MLB level and he can be a solid injury replacement.

The bullpen looks thin, especially after the Brad Boxberger injury. Alex Colome should be able to step into the closer role admirably, as he dominated out of the pen last year with a 2.66 ERA, 1.71 FIP and 9.74 K/9. Xavier Cedeno and Ryan Webb were fairly reliable last year, while Danny Farquhar and Enny Romero offer some upside in the K/9 department but are coming off shaky 2015 seasons. It’s hardly a bullpen that can consistently shut down offences, and won’t be feared by opposing lineups.

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The lineup is fairly balanced, with solid hitters in Logan Forsythe, Evan Longoria, and Corey Dickerson near the top of the order, but that trio will hardly strike fear into opposing pitchers. Those three guys will need to stay healthy and produce, while the rest of lineup will need to produce some unforeseen breakouts in order for them to compete offensively.

Desmond Jennings, Logan Morrison, Hang Conger, Brad Miller, Steven Souza Jr., and their best player, Kevin Kermaier, are all average to below average at the dish, and barring a large breakout from one or two of them, I don’t see their offence being able to put up enough runs.

As a team, they ranked fifth in Fangraphs defensive WAR, sixth in UZR, and 14th in DRS, but that was largely on the strength of Kermaier’s excellence in CF. Conger is an elite pitch framer, Forsythe is solid at 2B, Longoria is no longer the elite defensive 3B anymore, but he’s solid, and the OF can cover some ground, but I wouldn’t refer to their team defence as one of the best in the league. In fact, I prefer the Jays for being significantly better at SS, 2B, and C.

With strong pitching, that lineup can win some games, but I see them as a team similar to their 2015 squad. They’ll battle for .500 and they’ll be a pesky team to play, but I see them as a good match up for the Jays when looking at the big picture.

Next: Game 1: Stroman vs. Archer: Should be fun

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