With the MLB regular season less than two weeks away, many baseball fans are in the midst of prepping and/or drafting their fantasy baseball teams. Here’s a few things to consider some options from the Blue Jays.
Let’s face it, nearly every baseball fan dreams of being at the helm of their favourite franchise and having the responsibility of filling out the lineup card, or dreaming of trades to improve the club. That’s what makes fantasy baseball so much fun.
Having reached the ALCS for the last 2 seasons, the Blue Jays are obviously sporting some talented players on their roster, and several that have helped fantasy championships come to fruition as well. Today, we’ll take a look at the Blue Jays’ pitchers you should consider in your drafts this year.
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We’ll start with the most obvious candidate. Aaron Sanchez lead the AL with a 3.00 ERA last year and a 15-2 record. Not bad for his first full (ish) campaign as a starter. As an All-Star and someone who finished 7th in Al Cy Young voting, Sanchez will be near the top of the pitcher rankings, in most cases.
Projections– 39th (ESPN), 44th (Fox), 31st (Sporting News), 29th (CBS)
Average draft position- 36th
My prediction- 16-10, 3.29 ERA, 196 innings pitched
The league will look to make adjustments to the stud pitcher, and he’ll look to stay one step ahead, which I believe he’s capable of. He feels a little underrated, especially by Fox, and could be a bargain ace for several fantasy clubs.
Estrada has battled injuries to his ailing back over the last couple of seasons, but otherwise has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the American League. If he can stay healthy, he’ll likely find plenty of interested suitors in free agency, assuming he doesn’t sign an extension with the Blue Jays before he gets there.
Projections– 59th (ESPN) *not listed in top 80 (Fox), 67th (Sporting News), 56th (CBS)
Average draft position– 66th (*note- I gave him #81 for Fox, because I think it’s ridiculous he didn’t make the list)
My prediction– 13-7, 3.52 ERA, 187 innings pitched.
As long as Estrada can stay healthy, he and his devastating change-up will continue to baffle American League hitters. He’s due to be a free agent at season’s end as well, so he’s going to be motivated to stay in the lineup, and produce.
The lefty managed to win 20 games last year, leading the talented staff in the department. He also sported a 3.18 ERA, 4.7 WAR, and threw 195 regular season innings. The Blue Jays hit the jackpot in the free agent department, and hope he can come close to a repeat performance in 2017.
Projections– #72 (ESPN), #37 (Fox), 58th (Sporting News), 49th (CBS)
Average draft position– 54th
My prediction– 16-10, 3.87 ERA, 192 innings pitched
I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Happ to win 20 games again, but do I do think he’ll be an asset, both to the Blue Jays and fantasy baseball teams. He might get drafted a bit early because of his win total last year, but he could be a steal if he’s ignored for fear of backsliding.
The folks working in projections love Stroman, and there’s plenty of reason for that. He pitched well in the second half of last season after a slow start, and has looked great this spring, both in Grapefruit League action, and pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Projections– 34th (ESPN), 34th (Fox), 48th (Sporting News), 34th (CBS)
Average draft position– 37th
My prediction– 16-11, 3.64 ERA, 201 innings pitched
I expect big things from Stroman this year, as many around baseball are projecting. Hopefully the first half of last season was just a blip on the radar of an otherwise colourful resume, because he’s got a ton of upside. Someone is bound to reach early in drafts, but they might be rewarded anyway.
Liriano has looked fantastic in Grapefruit League action, and pitched very well after coming over to Toronto in the trade deadline deal with the Pirates. He’s always been a talented pitcher, but he’s struggled to find consistency throughout his career. At the moment it appears he’s got things figured out, but it’s a long season in the MLB.
Projections– 136th (ESPN), 78th (Fox), 83rd (Sporting News), 87th (CBS)
Average draft position– 96th
My prediction– 14-12, 4.01 ERA, 175 innings pitched
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Liriano out-pitched my prediction, and obviously I’m rooting for him to do just that. He’s the type of pitcher who could be boom-or-bust in drafts, as he won’t be taken early, but has the potential to give you big production with a late pick.
The Blue Jays are very fortunate to have a young, talented, and affordable closer in Roberto Osuna. The Mexican flame-thrower has thrived as a closer for the Blue Jays since debuting as a 20 year old, and it doesn’t appear he’ll be removed from the role any time soon, if ever.
Projections– 24th (ESPN), 6th for RP (Fox), 8th for RP (Sporting News), 6th for RP (CBS)
Average draft position– 7th (excluding ESPN’s total ranking)
My prediction– 2.54 ERA, 37 Saves, 78 innings pitched
Osuna did have some minor injury concerns with his elbow at the end of the season, but he appears to be healthy and ready to go. He should be among the AL’s best options at closer, and could be among the leaders if the Blue Jays are winning plenty of tight games.
The assumption is the Blue Jays will be all set in the rotation again this year, but it’s unlikely they’ll go an entire year with the type of injury-free luck they had in 2016.
In the event that one of the starters succumbs to injury, look for one of Mat Latos or Joe Biagini to get the first crack at the opportunity. They’re both long-shots to contribute to your fantasy roster, but Latos has been valuable in the past, and Biagini has been a valuable reliever in Toronto.
Beyond that, it would take an injury to Osuna for another Blue Jays’ reliever to have much fantasy value, so let’s not even go there, m’k?
Stay tuned for another article here at Jays Journal, discussing the fantasy baseball options on the offensive side of the ball.