Blue Jays predictions: Answering five big questions

Mar 28, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Tyler White (28) is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers during spring training at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Tyler White (28) is congratulated by his teammates after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers during spring training at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the MLB regular season set to get started for the Blue Jays on Thursday, I thought it’d be a great time to try to answer some key questions about this team, or at least make a few predictions before things get underway.

It should be an exciting year for the Blue Jays, as they returned to the playoffs in 2020 for the first time in three years, and went out and signed some key additions over the winter like George Springer, Marcus Semien, and more. There are a lot of reasons for optimism, but as always, there are plenty of question marks too.

Let’s take a look at some of the bigger questions ahead of the 2021 campaign.

1- How will the Blue Jays finish this year?

Predicting the results of a 162 game season is no easy task, and yet there are dozens of publications that try their hand every year. Myself, I’m throwing out a record of 89-73 for a 2nd place finish in the AL East, and returning to the playoffs as one of the Wild Card teams.

The projections over at Fangraphs don’t think I’m too far off, as they have the Jays slated for an 88-72 record and earning one of the Wild Card spots as well. The PECOTA system is less optimistic, predicting an 85-77 record. Probably my favourite that I’ve come across so far is from Sports Illustrated, who see a 91-71 record for our Blue Jays.

There are a lot of variables that will factor into how they finish, but it’s sure nice to see a consensus that they’ll be a competitive team in 2021. Here’s hoping they’re closer to the SI version and less like the PECOTA one.

2- How many All-Stars will the Blue Jays have?

In the grand scheme of things, All-Star appearances really don’t matter all that much compared to team success. That said, it’s a lot of fun to tune in for the festivities, especially when your team is well represented.

Every team in the big leagues will have one rep sent to the game, but this season I’m going to predict that three Blue Jays will earn the honour. Feel free to come back and poke fun at me once we get to July, but you heard it here first. Hyun Jin Ryu will earn his 2nd career All-Star appearance, and Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will play in their first mid-summer classic. If we’re lucky, maybe Vlad Jr. will take part in the home run derby again.

3- Will they trade for another starting pitcher? 

My belief is that yes, the Blue Jays will upgrade their rotation ahead of the trade deadline this year.

The crop of potentially available arms could be very interesting as well. For example, Max Scherzer will be a free agent at the end the year. Imagine adding his veteran presence for the stretch run and the postseason if the Nationals aren’t in the NL playoff hunt and decide to sell. The same goes for Lance Lynn in Texas, as well as plenty of veterans who signed one year deals for 2021.

My expectation is the Blue Jays will look for a deal with a similar impact to acquiring Taijuan Walker last year. A lower cost upgrade that could help the rotation ceiling seems about right. That said, if the right player is available, like a Scherzer, and the Jays are looking like serious contenders, don’t be shocked if Ross Atkins is a little more aggressive this time around.

4- Will we see Austin Martins or Jordan Groshans this year?

My guess is a hard no for the debuts of the Blue Jays’ top two position players in 2021. After missing the chance to develop much last year with the cancelled season, both players could really use the at-bats that come with playing full-time, likely in Double and/or Triple-A.

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One or both might prove to be ready before the end of the season, but with a stacked MLB offence it would likely take a couple of significant injuries before the idea would be even considered. Assuming they don’t bring back Marcus Semien beyond his current one year deal, I expect Martin and Groshans to be competing for a spot with the team in 2022 though.

5- What about Manoah and Woods Richardson?

A couple of months ago I didn’t think there was any chance we’d see Alek Manoah or Simeon Woods Richardson in the big leagues in 2021, but the pair of talented righties have changed my mind.

Like Martin and Groshans, the pitchers will need to spend some crucial development time in the minor leagues this year. It’ll also be important to monitor and control the stress on their arms after a missed season, and that’s easier to do in MiLB baseball than it is at the highest level.

I also think that monitoring their workloads could be important for the big league club, and that one or both could even help the team later in the year. That might mean coming out of the bullpen in August or September, but the experience would be positive for both of the young hurlers, and their talent could be a useful shot in the arm for a bullpen that could be gassed by that point in the season. With the Blue Jays looking like they’ve entered into a “win now” window, I don’t think they’ll hesitate to bring them up this year if that’s in the best interest of the team, and the player.

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What other big questions do you have about the Blue Jays ahead of the 2021 campaign?