Blue Jays are much improved compared to this time last season
As they prepare to break camp the Toronto Blue Jays are much better positioned for the rigors of the American League East with a bolstered roster this season.
Last season at this time, the Blue Jays Opening Day lineup did not include the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio or Travis Shaw. Instead, Brandon Drury got the nod at third base, with Kevin Pillar in centrefield, Freddy Galvis at shortstop and Justin Smoak at first base.
The starting rotation in 2019 consisted of Marcus Stroman, Matt Shoemaker, Aaron Sanchez, Trent Thornton, and Sean-Reid Foley. A year later and only Shoemaker and Thorton remain in the rotation complimented by Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Chase Anderson.
Shoemaker could be the sleeper in the rotation as he is off to a great start this spring and dominated in his only five starts last season before the injury. The Jays also have a secret weapon in Nate Pearson honing his craft in Buffalo until his service time is no longer an issue.
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The Opening Day batting order was as follows:
- Drury 3B
- Grichuk RF
- Hernandez LF
- Smoak 1B
- Gurriel Jr. 2B
- Pillar CF
- Tellez DH
- Jansen C
- Galvis SS
Billy McKinney, Luke Maile, and Richard Urena were the players available off the bench for manager Charlie Montoyo. Presumably, McKinney along with Derek Fisher, Reese McGuire, and Joe Panik will be the bench options this year. Although McKinney does have an option remaining where Anthony Alford does not.
Pillar began the season with Toronto but was traded 5 games into the season to the San Francisco Giants. That began the Alen Hanson and Socrates Brito experiment which did not bode well for anyone involved.
Vladdy would eventually debut on April 26th followed by Biggio on May 24th and then Bo being the last of three debuting on July 29th. By my count, the trio only played in 31 games together last year, that number would be even less if you included budding superstar Lourdes Gurriel Jr. into the mix.
No matter which way you slice it, the Blue Jays are a much better team than last season and should drastically improve on their 67 wins from a year ago. Don’t sleep on this team, a wild card berth is not out of the question.