The Blue Jays are projected to jump from 67 wins up to 79 in 2020 according to mlb.com, an impressive 12-game improvement. Can they meet or beat that number?
We have roughly 10 days until pitchers and catchers start reporting to Dunedin for the Blue Jays, and the excitement is already starting to build. That’s a nice place to compared to a year ago when the team was beginning a rebuild and had virtually no hope of competing in 2019.
I’m not suggesting that the Blue Jays are going to be World Series contenders this season, but there’s a pretty universal belief that this talented young team will make some significant improvements. In fact, according to MLB.com’s projections, they have Charlie Montoyo’s club jumping from their 67 win total in 2019 up to 79 for the upcoming campaign. Even if 79 wins is still nowhere near where they ultimately want to end up, a 12 game improvement would be significant.
I’ve talked about what I think realistic goals are for the Blue Jays this season, and I hope to see them shooting for a .500 record, which would equate to 81 wins. Again, that wouldn’t push them into the playoff picture, but it would be an important step in the direction toward that goal in 2021 and beyond, and one that feels like it’s becoming more realistic all the year.
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There are several reasons for the jump in projections, starting with the off-season additions made by Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office. They vastly improved the starting rotation by signing Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Shun Yamaguchi as free agents, trading for Chase Anderson, and re-signing a now-healthy Matt Shoemaker. Yamaguchi may ultimately end up in the bullpen, but it’s also possible that the Blue Jays could have five fresh faces compared to what they finished last season with (Shoemaker landed on the season-ending IL in April).
With the loss of Justin Smoak to free agency, the Blue Jays took a calculated gamble on the versatile Travis Shaw, who is looking for a bounce-back year after a tough 2019 campaign in Milwaukee. He’s penciled in as the starter at first base, and the rest of his infield mates are the other big reason for optimism in Toronto these days. When they opened the 2019 season their infield consisted of Smoak at first base, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. at second, Freddy Galvis at shortstop, and Brandon Drury at third. Now, they have three of the more exciting young players in the game joining Shaw in Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. There’s also the talented duo of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire behind the plate, which should be a strength for the Blue Jays this year.
There are still questions to be answered in the outfield, in the bullpen, and even with the composition of the bench, but the core of this roster is vastly improved from a year ago, and there are a lot of reasons for optimism when thinking about the year ahead. And call me an optimist if you like, but if we were using MLB.com’s projection of 79 wins as an over/under, I think I’d actually take the over. I will say that there isn’t a huge difference between 79 and 81 wins, and either would represent an improvement for this team. That said, I think they’re going to surprise a lot of folks with how quickly they develop, just as they did late last season.
How about you? Let us know if you think they can meet or beat 79 wins, and/or what you think their record may be at the end of the year.