Toronto Blue Jays 2019 Season Preview
2018 Record: 73 – 89
Projected 2019 Record: 76 – 86
2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook
The Blue Jays 2018 season wasn’t impressive by any means. The team turned no heads and were never in the race for the division title. But, after all, they are in the AL East.
The team struggled to produce offensively. None of the team’s everyday players hit over .265, and while Justin Smoak and Randall Grichuk managed to each hit a decent number of homers, their run production wasn’t consistent, and they often struggled to get on base.
None of the starters, or relievers for that matter, had super impressive seasons. Many spent time out with injury and others simply underperformed. JA Happ was decent, but he was traded to the Yankees halfway through the season. Seunghwan Oh pitched quite well out of the bullpen, but also left the Blue Jays midseason.
After an underwhelming 2018, Toronto fans hope not only to see improvement in their team’s record, but also improvement in the players’ attitudes and overall energy.
There is no doubt that 2019 will be a transitional year for the Toronto Blue Jays. Almost every veteran has by this point either retired or left the Jays for other teams, meaning the young core will need to step up and make an impact if the team is to have any shot at finishing with a winning record. The most exciting of these prospects is easily Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but other notable names are Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Cavan Biggio.
Jays fans also pray that the starting pitching can stay healthy, namely Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. If either of these two guys face prolonged time on the DL, the team is in for rough season.
Finally, how will Charlie Montoyo do in his first year as manager?
2019 Starting Pitchers
On paper, Toronto’s starting pitching is half decent. Marcus Stroman is only 27 years old but already has several years of experience. They have depth and even managed to acquire a few new arms, such as veteran righty Clay Buchholz.
Stroman will be heading the staff. He struggled in 2018, going 4 – 9, posting an ERA over 5.00, and battling injury. But, other than that, his numbers are promising. In 2017, he went 13 – 9 with an ERA just over 3.00. Anything similar to numbers like these would be huge for the Blue Jays season.
Aaron Sanchez has struggled with injury over the last two seasons. But 2016 showed what the righty is capable of. That year his numbers were dominant: 15 – 2 with an ERA of 3.00 flat. If both Sanchez and Stroman put up numbers like these, the Blue Jays would already be in a much better place for AL East title contention.
Matt Shoemaker could easily fill the number three role in the rotation. A new addition from the Angels, his numbers haven’t been all that impressive since 2015/2016, but he hopes to regain his old form with his new ballclub.
Clayton Richard, a veteran lefty, will be at the latter end of the Jays rotation. His career hasn’t seen a ton of success, but he rarely struggles with injury and turns in surprisingly good outings every 3 or 4 starts.
Ryan Borucki, a 24-year-old southpaw, will also be at the latter end of the starting staff. In his first MLB season, he started 17 games going 4 – 6 with an ERA of 3.87. The Jays are also likely to start Clay Buchholz at times as well. The righty is worn down but has years of experience and knows the AL East as well as anyone.
2019 Relief Pitchers
The Toronto bullpen, however, has its doubts. Closer Ken Giles has the potential to throw some lights-out stuff but has struggled to keep his ERA down in recent years. Despite the ERA struggles, he managed to not blow a single save in 2018.
Ryan Tepera will be the one who plays the set-up man role. He went 5 – 5 in 2018 with a 3.62 ERA and 19 holds.
Another somewhat important relief force will be Joe Biagini, although he struggled in 2018. He went 4 – 7 with an ERA of 6.00, concerning numbers to say the least.
Expect to see players like Clay Buchholz and Sean Reid-Foley (who normally start) come out of the bullpen as well.
The 2019 Toronto lineup will feature a decent number of young upcomers mixed with a few experienced veterans, all of whom can hit. Yet, this lineup still does raise concerns. Few of these players can really hit for average and get on base. Granted some of them may surprise us, but rotochamp.com currently predicts that the highest average of any player in the everyday lineup will be Lourdes Gurriel Jr. at around .275. And while this number is respectable, it is by no means sufficient for Toronto to compete with offense heavy teams like the Yankees or Red Sox.
Kendrys Morales will likely spend most of the time in the DH spot, and for good reason. He has proven to be a good power source and is likely to hit around or over 25 homeruns. Another big middle-of-the-lineup power will be first baseman Justin Smoak, who’s numbers should be around the same as those of Morales.
Kevin Pillar and Freddy Galvis sure know how to put on a show defensively, but the hitting staff hopes that both turn into all around players who can bring something to the plate as well.
Therefore, if the Jays are going to have any chance at even contending for the AL East title, they’re going to have to figure out how to get on base. They say defense wins games, but what good is a solid defense if your offense can’t produce.
Projected Starting Lineup
- Billy McKinney
- Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
- Justin Smoak
- Kendrys Morales
- Kevin Pillar
- Randal Grichuk
- Brandon Drury
- Freddy Galvis
- Danny Jansen
Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers
Marcus Stroman – If you are diving into Toronto pitching for your draft, chances are it is AL Only or a very deep league. Projections have a few names under a four ERA like Stroman, Buchholz, and Shoemaker. Hard to see that happening in Toronto. A lot of these names find themselves in the same boat. They are very matchup dependent. If you are looking for an innings eater, Marcus Stroman can help out. He rebounded from a bad injury, and his peripheral stats should even out. He had a sub-four xFIP, and the groundball rate was over 60%. Some positive batted ball stats will help that ERA come back down.
Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters
Justin Smoak – Justin Smoak is a value first base option, who brings some pop and RBI production. Smoak found himself in Toronto, where the power picked up. While we shouldn’t expect the 38 home run season from 2017. He can flirt with 25-30. While some view Smoak as a deeper league target, most rosters have a CI, UTIL, and more deeper roster formats to fill. Smoak is worth a look there.