MaNishtana: 4 questions for a Blue Jays 2020 season

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs the bases after hitting a three run homerun in the first inning during the spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 25, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 25: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs the bases after hitting a three run homerun in the first inning during the spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field on February 25, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Using the holiday spirit of Passover and involving the Blue Jays to provide insights on four questions that I came up with for a 2020 season, if there is one.

As for many Jews around the world, Passover was different yesterday from previous years as in order to be together with our extended family, we had to do so over video chat. One thing that was not different from other Passovers was the seder.

At every seder, the youngest at the table asks the MaNishtana, the four questions. As I’m the youngest writer at Jays Journal, I decided to come up with four questions that I would like to ask about the Jays for the 2020 season and provide insights on them.

Question 1: Is the bullpen strong enough?

The Jays have one of the better closers in the game in Ken Giles who posted a 1.87 ERA while converting all but one save last season. 100 miles Giles should be his dominant self for a potential 2020 campaign, but what about the rest of the bullpen?

The Jays brought two guys over from Japan in Shun Yamaguchi and Rafael Dolis. Yamaguchi was hoping to win the final spot in the rotation but it seemed like it was going to go to Trent Thornton until Spring Training was called off. How will Yamaguchi adjust to being a reliever when you don’t know the situation you’ll be thrown into, a role he hasn’t had since 2018? Also, how will he adjust to playing in North America? Meanwhile, Rafael Dolis hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2013. Will he be able to show he belongs back in the big leagues?

Until Wilmer Font came to the Jays, his ERA was hovering above 5.00 with multiple teams. Will he be able to carry his success from his 23 game stint into a new season? Will the Jays have any left-handed pitchers in the pen? Thomas Pannone would have started the season in AAA while Brian Moran wasn’t guaranteed a spot on the team.

Question 2: Does the rotation have the firepower to take on heavy offences? 

The Jays rotation is a huge improvement compared to last year with the additions of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Chase Anderson, as well as hopefully having Matt Shoemaker for a whole year. One thing that the rotation lacks is strikeouts, as none of the Jays starters are known for their ability to strike guys out. With power being a big part of today’s game, strikeout pitchers are important as lots of power hitters go down on strikes quite often.

Looking at the offensive heavy teams in the American League, the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Astros, Angels and Athletics, can the Jays starters manage to produce outs against these teams? Here’s the combined batting average of some of these teams against each pitcher:


Yankees: .302
Red Sox: .300
J.D. Martinez: 3 for 10
Jose Peraza: 4 for 10
Twins: .412


Red Sox: .300
Giancarlo Stanton: .583 slugging percentage
Astros: .308
Athletics: .310


Yankees: .364
Athletics: .303
Stephen Piscotty: 5 for 10
Khris Davis: 6 for 16


Red Sox: .347
Jose Peraza: 6 for 18
Astros: .333


Red Sox: .373
Yankees: .279
Twins: .429

Would the rotation manage to get guys out against these teams or will it be a struggle? How will Ryu, Roark and Anderson adjust to playing in more hitter-friendly ballparks and playing in the AL East after spending their whole careers in the National League? (Roark did make 10 starts for the Athletics last season, but was in the National League for his whole career before that).

Question 3: Can anyone breakout and be an unheralded contributor? 

Everyone is expecting big things from the Jays young players this year, who are also the core of the offence in Guerrero Jr, Bichette, Biggio and Gurriel Jr, but what about the five other guys in the lineup?

While he might start in a platoon role and bat near the bottom of the lineup, Rowdy Tellez could provide some pop. He hit 21 HR in 111 games last season and has a career slugging percentage of .475. While we don’t know how many games a 2020 season would be if there is one, if he stays healthy, he should be able to appear in the majority of the games played. If he hits well, he could find himself as a middle-of-the-order bat with 30 homer potential. Another guy that shouldn’t be counted out is Travis Shaw. While he had a disastrous season with the Brewers last year as he batted below the Mendoza line, he hit 63 HR combined in 2017 and 2018 with 187 RBIs. Shaw is a candidate to bounce back and if he does, he could find himself close to the 30 HR mark.

Another player that could breakout is Reese McGuire. While he does have an impending court case clouding over him, he did play well when he was called up last season, which possibly gave us a glimpse of what’s to come of him. If he can replicate or put up similar numbers in his 30 game stint last season where he slashed .299/.346/.539 with 29 hits and five HR, he could supplant Danny Jansen on the depth chart and be the Jays starting catcher.

Question 4: Why is this season different than the others? 

One of the four questions asked on Passover is why is this night different than the rest? Same thing can be said with the Jays potential 2020 season: Why will this season be different than others? Well, many reasons.

The Jays young offensive players are expected to take big leaps forward in their development. We have an improved rotation that’s led by MLB 2019 ERA leader Hyun-Jin Ryu. Matt Shoemaker will be back for a whole season if he stays healthy. The pitching staff, both in the rotation and bullpen is better than it was last year. Nate Pearson will be up at some point and will be our ace of the future, our first true, homegrown ace since Roy Halladay. This season will be different than Jays seasons of the past and there’s lots to be excited about.

Next. Bo Bichette and choosing a jersey number. dark

What questions do you have for the Jays 2020 season?