Contributor: Jason Lee
The Blue Jays’ rotation heads into spring training looking like the team’s greatest strength. However, it is unrealistic to anticipate the amazing run of health that the Jays’ staff enjoyed in 2016. Arguably one of the most underrated players to watch out for is Francisco Liriano. He is notorious for following up disappointing seasons with equally stellar numbers the next year (evidenced by his multiple “comeback player of the year” awards). Expect Liriano to surprisingly emerge as the Blue Jays’ ace in the upcoming 2017 season.
Contributor: Chris Henderson
The Blue Jays enter 2017 with many questions about the upcoming season, and the direction of the franchise going forward. President Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins inherited a strong core from the previous front office and will have to decide how they want to shape roster going forward, now two years into their respective roles.
In the rotation, it’ll be an important year for Marco Estrada. After coming to the Blue Jays in a trade from the Brewers for Adam Lind, Estrada has quietly transformed himself into a high-quality starter. He will be a free agent after the 2017 season, and he’ll have to work very hard to keep his balky back in check if he wants to maximize his free agent potential. In keeping with the rotation, Joe Biagini will be stretched out this spring, and could potentially provide the Blue Jays with starting pitching depth, if the need arises.
I’m also intrigued with Jose Bautista as he enters a 1-year deal with something to prove, and I’m excited to see how big the chip on his shoulder may. Bautista’s stock has taken a significant hit over the last year, but it may be largely unwarranted, as he battled injuries for most of 2016. Look for the slugger to have a strong season, using the energy of being “snubbed” in free agency as his primary motivation.