The 2016 Blue Jays will be the year of the Pitcher.
Two young pitchers will establish themselves as top pitchers in the game. Marcus Stroman has been anointed the Ace of the staff. Being given the opening day start and the fact that we have no body else who even smells like an Ace. Stroman is ready to take the lead, last years playoff run gave him the confidence(not that he was lacking in that category)to take on a leadership role. His delivery and stuff should allow him to easily throw 200 innings. The big worry about smaller pitchers has always been there ability to stand the test of time. Stroman delivery and easy motion should make this a none issue. The next step forward will be Aaron Sanchez. There is no reason to keep him in bullpen. Running him out every third day to pitch the 7th inning is not a good way to use this kind of stuff. The ceiling on Aaron is much higher than anyone in Baseball. His 98 mile per hour fastball that explodes on a hitter is devastating. We will see if he is ready to make the jump.
These two along with Estrada and Dickey make a pretty formidable rotation. I am not as confident with Happ or Hutch or Floyd or whoever is left. 36 million over 3 years for Happ seems a bit silly - but the money ensures he is in the rotation. Hutch is a bit of a paradox, but given the season he suffered through last year, he is definitely down the chain now and will start the year in Buffalo. A nice pickup was Jesse Chavez who has terrific stuff and if he continues to develop, could be a nice surprise. His average fastball was one of fastest in 2015.
Rotation Grade - B
Shoring up the Bullpen with Drew Storen was a great move. Having someone who can fill the role should Osuna falter is a terrific asset. Trying to find a closer mid season is nearly impossible. Ben Revere was a great hitter - but offense is easily found in left field. Storen provides an experience option that has closer stuff and a decent contract. Cecil and Loup are excellent left-handed options. For the first time in forever, the Bullpen appears to be a strength.
Bullpen Grade - B
The other player to make a huge step forward will be Ryan Goins - this spring he is driving the ball to all fields. Unfortunately or fortunately, it depends on the camp you fall into. Frankly, if we could get 140 games from Devon Travis, I would take that over pretty much any other 2nd baseman in Baseball. Now, back to Ryan, Goins will hit .270 this year with double digit homers. At his peak, Goins will be a poor mans Robby Cano.
The rest of the infield is basically the same as last year. We hope it stays intact. Justin Smoak is starting to realize his potential and spending time as a platoon player, has Gibbons the ability to put him in against pitching that he can dominate. When you do this without going long stretches of multi strike out games. Success is a lot more easily attained. Chris Collabelo was something of an aberration in 2015 - career minor leaguer making good at 31 yrs old was huge. Both are professional hitters who should be able to soften the blow of losing Double E at the end of 2016. Edwin is less concerned about money, showing up for camp and missing time right away shows that he isn't taking this quite as serious.
Tulo and Josh - Nough Said. Best left side in the history of baseball?
The outfield is going to be a strength, losing a player like Ben Revere is not easy to take. But finding atbats for Michael Saunders(more upside with Power) and Dalton Pompey made moving Ben a necessity. What to expect from Saunders? 270 Average - 450 at bats and 18 homers. The big issue with Saunders has always been staying healthy. Kevin Pillar will hit over 300 this year with increased power. He should win his first Gold Glove. Jose Bautista has been recharged by the playoff run and being in a contract yr, he should have a huge season.
Starting Lineup Grade A
Record - 93 - 69
Go Jays Go!