Theo Toronto Blue Jays 2018 season begins on March 29th where they will honor their legendary pitcher Roy Halladay by retiring his number 32. The loss of Halladay is emotional for the whole league, not because of the work ethic and dominant performances he had on the mound, but because of the genuine good guy and family man he was. Toronto will wear a 32 patch on their jerseys this season and will look to honor the late pitcher the best way a team knows how, by winning. They finished fourth in the AL East last season with a 76-86 record. Staying healthy is key to success and many key players missed considerable time last season, something that can’t happen again if the Blue Jays hope to finish with a record above .500
Season Preview 2018 Toronto Blue Jays
Third baseman Josh Donaldson missed 49 games but still managed to hit 33 home runs and drive in 78. In what may be his final season in Toronto, he’ll look for another dominant performance before entering the free agent market. Troy Tulowitzki played in a mere 66 games last season and it seems his best days are behind him. He’s set to start spring training late due to bone spurs in his right knee and it looks like off-season acquisition Aledmys Diaz will fill in. At second base is another question mark, that being if Devon Travis can stay healthy to turn his potential into results. He only played in 50 games last year, and to bolster the bench and add insurance Toronto brought in Yangervis Solarte via a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit 18 home rune with 64 RBI last year and can play all four infield spots. First base is one spot where Toronto has the answer. Justin Smoak had the definition of a breakout performance in 2017 with 38 home runs and 90 RBI to go with an OPS of .883. His previous career bests in home runs and RBI was 20 and 59 respectively and he’ll look to prove that 2017 was not a fluke, but a springboard.
The 2018 outfield in Toronto will look much different than in previous seasons. For nine seasons Jose Bautista controlled right field for this franchise, but it’s a position battle this spring. Veteran Curtis Granderson has been signed and 26-year-old Randal Grichuk brought in via a trade with St. Louis. Both had 20+ home run campaigns in 2017 and can play multiple outfield spots. One key outfielder to watch is Teoscar Hernandez. Despite an impressive September with eight home runs and twenty RBI, he’s likely to start 2018 in Tripe-A but will be in Toronto quickly if the aforementioned duo struggle. Kevin Pillar will continue to control centerfield and provide highlight real catches while aiming to be another 20 home run bat in the lineup.
Marcus Stroman (13-9, 3.09 ERA, 201.0 IP, 164 strikeouts) Marco Estrada (10-9, 4.98, 186.0, 176) J.A. Happ (10-11, 3.53, 145.1, 142) and Aaron Sanchez (1-3, 4.25, 36.0, 24) will make up four of the five spots in the starting rotation, assuming the final member of this group stays blister free. Newly signed Jaime Garcia will likely grab the fifth starting job, after going 5-10 in 2017 with a 4.41 ERA and 129 strikeouts over 157.0 innings. He and Joe Biagini will have a spring training battle for this spot, but it would be in the clubs best interest to utilize Biagini out of the bullpen.
The 2018 season will end with another playoff miss, but allow for Toronto fans to see stellar performances from new faces and possible final ones from familiar ones.
2018 Prediction: 79-83 (3rd in AL East)
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