After a strong 2008, where the Toronto Blue Jays went 86-76, making an impressive comeback after the hiring of Cito Gaston, the Jays got two nasty surprises.
a) Shaun Marcum will miss 2009 with Tommy John Surgery
b) Dustin McGowan is out until May at the earliest due to shoulder surgery.
With these problems, the Jays face significant adversity in 2009. However, like 2007, it is possible some young pitchers will emerge from the rubble and become part of our future.
The starting rotation will once again be led by Roy Halladay, coming off a 20-win season. After he and Jesse Litsch, there are many question marks.
Roy Halladay: 20-11, 2.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP (Now this is an ace!)
Jesse Litsch: 13-9, 3.58 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (Not bad for a young pitcher.)
David Purcey: 3-6, 5.54 ERA 1.48 WHIP (He had great numbers in AAA. He will get better this year if he works on control.)
Dustin McGowan (return May 2009): 6-7, 4.37 ERA, 1.37 WHIP (Missed most of 2008 due to shoulder surgery.)
Casey Janssen (Missed 2008 with a torn labrum. Questionable.)
Matt Clement (Spent 2008 in AAA—also uncertain.)
Mike Maroth (AAA/missed 2008)
Scott Richmond 1-3, 4.00 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
Brian Tallet (stretched out)
There are so many candidates, it is hard to predict who will get the two open rotation spots on Opening Day. Richmond and Janssen have the most likely chance of taking these spots. Clement and/or Maroth will have to show health and consistency to have a chance at earning a rotation spot.
CP B.J. Ryan
RP Brandon League
RP Scott Downs
RP Jason Frasor
RP Jesse Carlson
RP Shawn Camp
RP Brian Tallet
RP Jeremy Accardo
RP/SP Brian Wolfe
Pretty much the same bullpen as last year. However, Jason Frasor and Shawn Camp could easily be on the bubble, with Jeremy Accardo and Brian Wolfe still waiting in AAA.
LF Joe Inglett/Adam Lind/Travis Snider (hard to predict as of right now.)
CF Vernon Wells
RF Alex Rios
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Aaron Hill
3B Scott Rolen
C Rod Barajas
SS Marco Scutaro
DH Snider/Lind/Kevin Millar/Jose Bautista/Randy Ruiz
Still some questions in the LF and DH spots, considering the competition in Spring Training.
SS John McDonald
1B/3B/OF Bautista or 1B Millar or 1B/DH Ruiz
C Michael Barrett/Raul Chavez/Curtis Thigpen/Brian Jeroloman/J.P. Arencibia
Many uncertainties on the bench as well, as J.P. Ricciardi wants a good defensive catcher, and much depends on Snider's readiness for the majors.
Since most of the team is the same as last year, improvement will be necessary to have success. Young pitching will also need to step up as well.
Prediction: 81 wins, out of playoffs