Blue Jays: Can their key players stay healthy in 2018?

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 29: Pitcher Aaron Sanchez
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 29: Pitcher Aaron Sanchez /

The Blue Jays had a bad run of injuries throughout the 2017 season, largely contributing to their disappointing results. At the front of the pack of those key injuries were Aaron Sanchez, and the keystone of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis.

When you look at the Blue Jays’ roster on paper, it’s hard to understand how the team never once reached .500 during the 2017 season. They were close as many as 10 times to reaching that mark, but were never able to pull themselves out of the hole that was created in the first two weeks with a 2-11 start to their April calendar.

While underperformance was an equally frustrating part of their downfall, you can’t help but wonder how the team would have fared if they were firing on all cylinders. That could be said for nearly every team in baseball, but with the Blue Jays in particular, it was a season of injuries to key personnel. Josh Donaldson missed more than a month with a calf injury in April, Russell Martin has been out a couple times, and J.A. Happ spent almost six weeks on the DL as well.

However, the biggest blows would come from those who are finishing the season on the DL. Aaron Sanchez made just eight starts this season, and only managed 36 innings in those appearances. It’s hard to fathom how fingernail and blister issues could keep someone out for almost an entire year in this medical day and age, but it happened and all parties involved are still trying to come up with a permanent solution. To make matters worse, Sanchez is now also dealing with an annular ligament issue in his finger, likely as a result of compensating for the other problems.

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Joining him on the DL have been Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki, who not only represent the entire keystone of the team, but another significant facet as well. All year long we’ve longed for players who could produce a better OBP, and these two would have been near the top of the heap if they had been healthy. Travis in particular has been a solid lead off man when he’s been healthy throughout his career, and was tearing the cover off the ball before his season ending knee issue surfaced. Tulo has never fully reached his potentially on the offensive side in Toronto, but the hope was he would finally produce a healthy season in 2017, and the results would be different. We all know how that ended up.

I know how I’m feeling about each of the three, but I was curious to see how fans on Twitter might be feeling about the trio of Sanchez, Travis, and Tulowitzki, and their chances of staying healthy next year. The results were somewhat surprising.

Granted we’re looking at just 355 votes (although, that’s a lot for a post from lil’ ol’ me), but I didn’t expect to see the results end up this one sided. Tulowitzki doesn’t surprise me coming up last, as he’s had a terrible time staying healthy in Toronto, and had documented injury issues in Colorado as well. He’s also the oldest of the group, so I would argue that he’s the biggest injury risk going forward.

I am surprised to see that either a) Fans believe Sanchez can put the finger issues behind him, or b) Fans have little to no faith that Devon Travis can stay healthy. I can’t believe them for the latter, but with the second baseman being just 26 years old, I’m not ready to write him off completely just yet.

For me, I’m genuinely concerned about Aaron Sanchez’s future, both getting on the field at all, and whether or not he can stick as a starting pitcher. There’s almost no chance he does anything but start in 2018, but if he has another season on the DL, maybe he and super agent, Scott Boras, would consider a move to the bullpen? It’s not good for his future contract earnings, but then again, neither is sitting on the DL for an entire year.

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If we’re lucky, all three players will be able to stay on the field for most/all of next season, and we’ll get a much better idea of how good this group could actually be. With a strong foundation in the rotation, and an emerging bullpen, a little health would go a long way for the Jays next season, and we could see some vastly different results. Call me crazy, but I think if the Jays had received 30 starts from Sanchez, and 140+ games from Tulo and Travis each, we’re looking at a different equation. If they get that in 2018, don’t be surprised to see the Blue Jays back in the playoff hunt.