Blue Jays: Realigned divisions could have a negative effect

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 27: MLB Logo on the batting mat during the spring training game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins at TD Ballpark on February 27, 2020 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 27: MLB Logo on the batting mat during the spring training game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins at TD Ballpark on February 27, 2020 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

MLB and MLBPA have agreed to realigned divisions for a potential shortened 2020 campaign.

As of now, there is no 2020 MLB season in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The MLB and MLBPA are still at odds on many issues in regards to how a shortened season would take place. One thing that both sides have agreed to is realigned divisions just for a potential 2020 season.

With realigned divisions taking place, it would combine each identical division from both leagues into one. In the case of the Toronto Blue Jays, this would combine the AL East and NL East into one 10 team division.

The purpose of these realigned divisions is to reduce travel so each team can play at their home ballparks, although it is still uncertain whether the Jays would play in Toronto due to the Canada-U.S.A. border restrictions (Fingers crossed restrictions could be lifted for MLB players). While this situation prevents the players from having to make four hour flights to places like L.A. and Oakland, combining the AL East and NL East doesn’t work in the Blue Jays favour.

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As usual, they would play their regular AL East foes in the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Rays, and they would now also have to play the Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Nationals and Braves in at least three games. While the Jays should have no problem facing the Orioles and Marlins, the rest of the division will be no easy matchup.

For the past few seasons, the NL East has been the most competitive division in baseball with all teams except the Marlins being able to take the division crown. When the Jays are to face the Braves, they have a burgeoning young superstar in Ronald Acuna Jr. who is a top five player in the league with the lineup being filled with the likes of Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Marcell Ozuna. The Jays may also see Canadian Mike Soroka who went 13-4 with a 2.68 E.R.A. last season. While Felix Hernandez is nowhere close to his once dominant self, the Jays combine to bat .159 off him.

When everyone is healthy, the Phillies have a potent top of the order in Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto which is a strong combination of contact and power. The Jays may also see Aaron Nola who is one of the most underrated pitchers in the league, as well as Zack Wheeler, who the Phillies brought in this past off-season.

The Mets have 2019’s MLB home run leader in Pete Alonso who would strike fear in the pitchers, especially if the Blue Jays are playing at the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. The Jays could also have a hard time facing Jacob deGrom who is the reigning two-time Cy Young winner, and if the Jays were to face their old pal Marcus Stroman, he would be sure to have a chip on his shoulder to show the front office what they missed in trading him away. If the Jays were to be in a close game against the Mets, the bullpen could cause trouble for Jays hitters as it features Seth Lugo, who was one of the games best middle/long relievers last season, as well as Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances and Edwin Diaz, in which the latter two are both just one season removed from being the most dominant relievers in all of baseball.

Despite losing Anthony Rendon to free agency in the offseason, the Nationals are still the reigning World Series champions and have arguably the league’s best rotation. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are capable of striking out everyone, and Patrick Corbin posted a 3.25 E.R.A. with 238 strikeouts last season. This is also without mentioning the Nationals own burgeoning young superstar in Juan Soto who is only getting better.

That is just teams in the NL East. The Yankees are still their mighty selves and while they will be without Luis Severino for all of 2020, they gave Gerrit Cole the largest contract ever to a pitcher and a shortened season only helps the Yankees bullpen that is arguably the best in the game. The Yankees are also well rested as Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, James Paxton and possibly Aaron Judge will all be ready for Opening Day, where if the season started on time, all those players mentioned would have started the season on the IL.

Despite the Red Sox trading away Mookie Betts and David Price and not having Chris Sale for the 2020 season, the Red Sox still can’t be counted out as they still have Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Rodriguez among others. The Red Sox are also strong defensively as all the players mentioned can play Gold Glove caliber defence along with Jose Peraza, Chrisitan Vazquez, Kevin Pillar and Mitch Moreland who are all strong defensive players in their own right.

Despite never spending large sums of money and trading away expensive players, the Rays are still a solid team both on the mound and in the field. They made a bunch of trades this off-season that vastly improved their offensive depth, meaning if a starter gets injured they have a guy on the bench that’s a major league starting calibre player. Their pitching is also solid with a rotation that features Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton, and a deep bullpen that allows manager Kevin Cash to mix and match his pitchers with opposing hitters.

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A revamped Blue Jays team can hang in with the likes of the Phillies and Mets, but now having to face the Braves and Nationals along with their regular AL East opponents may prove to be a challenge. Before we make any conclusions or assumptions, let’s hope there’s a 2020 season takes place, especially with what’s going on in the world right now.