With Spring Training just around the corner, I decided to write about the biggest question marks the Toronto Blue Jays have entering the new season. Although last season was impressive, they still have a lot of work to do if they want to challenge for the AL East title.
If the Jays can improve on their starting rotation and can get consistent production from center field and third base, they have a legitimate shot at playing October baseball.
Brett Lawrie caused a lot of excitement for Jays fans last year, slugging .580 and hitting nine home runs in only 43 games. It remains to be seen if he can produce like that over a full season as he started to tank at the end of last year.
However, Lawrie is an exceptional third baseman and a huge upgrade over Edwin Encarnacion. Even if he’s not the same offensively, he will save a lot of runs for the team at third.
Prior to last year, McGowan hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008 due to nagging injuries. McGowan returned for four starts last year and although he didn’t pitch very well, he was able to get his velocity back to what it was before he was injured.
If Dustin can return to his 2008 form, the Jays would have someone at the end of the rotation they could count on.
Kyle Drabek was supposed to be the biggest acquisition in the Halladay trade and although he’s still very young, he did little last season to prove he was worth giving up a Hall of Fame pitcher for.
Drabek will most likely compete for the last spot in the rotation so he has a lot to prove come springtime. Although his stuff is major league ready, his control last year was brutal, as he walked more batters than he struck out.
Last year, Ricky Romero pitched at an All-Star, level but there was a big drop off after him. The Jays rewarded Brandon Morrow with a contract extension in the offseason so it’s possible he’ll emerge as No. 2 in the rotation.
However, the guy to look out for is Henderson Alvarez. The 21-year-old didn’t have a great record, but had a low ERA, walked only eight batters in his almost 64 innings pitched and showed great poise on the mound. If there’s one pitcher who’s going to step up this year, it’s Alvarez.
A lot was given up for Colby Rasmus in hopes that he would be a consistent hitter in front of Jose Bautista. Rasmus was a top-5 prospect entering the big leagues and while he’s shown flashes of brilliance, he is not the great hitter and center fielder scouts thought he would be.
He is still relatively young at 25, and a lot could change this year, but the Jays have to hope he produces this year, as they don’t have a lot of backup if he cant be an every day center fielder.