Toronto Blue Jays: Odds of Injured Players Returning to Form in 2013
2012 has been the year of the injury for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It started slowly enough with Dustin McGowan's setback in spring training and newly-acquired closer Sergio Santos' shoulder surgery.
Then a wave of injuries left the Blue Jays with a minor-league starting rotation: Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Luis Perez all went down with major injuries and missed the majority of the season.
Not to mention less significant injuries to key cogs in the Jays' lineup, including Jose Bautista—who was well on his way to a third straight home run title—Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia and Adam Lind.
But there's always next year, right?
Here's a look at which injured Blue Jays will return to form in 2013.
Sergio Santos: 25 Percent
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After Santos was injured on April 21, it initially seemed like he would be back within a few weeks.
However, after a few setbacks it was determined that Santos required season-ending surgery, news that Jays fans got used to this season.
He appeared in only six games, blowing two saves with a 9.00 ERA. Suffice it to say, Santos wasn't having a spectacular year before he was injured. Considering the seriousness of his injury and the fact that he only had one full season of closing under his belt, the odds of him returning as a 35-save reliever can't be high.
But they also shouldn't be that low, either.
He's had an inordinate amount of time to recover and wouldn't have to have a career year to consider 2013 a success.
Brandon Morrow: 66 Percent
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Brandon Morrow was having a career year before a left oblique strain kept him out of play for two and-a-half months.
He was 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA and three shutouts. More impressive were his 54 hits through 77.1 innings pitched and minuscule 1.004 WHIP.
We'll have a better idea as to whether Morrow can come back in 2013 with similar numbers when he returns to action sometime in the next few weeks. If he maintains the control, movement and velocity that he possessed before his injury, then a return to full strength becomes far more likely.
Ideally, for Jays fans, Morrow's oblique and back don't bother him in the offseason and he continues to grow and mature as a starter. There's really no reason to think that won't happen, but it's hard to imagine he'll be as dominant next year.
Kyle Drabek: 80 Percent
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Throw out Kyle Drabek's three-inning, nine-run outing in late May, and he was pitching superbly before having Tommy John surgery in June.
Ignoring that horrendous start, Drabek had a 3.70 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP through 12 starts. While he wasn't spectacular, he was emerging as a reliable starter with big potential. For Drabek, the question involves recovery time and whether he'll have the confidence to return to form.
He's still a prospect and expectations for Drabek should be tempered heading into 2013. With that in mind, and considering Tommy John is as routine as brushing your teeth for pitchers, it's more than likely that Drabek can establish himself as a regular middle-of-the-rotation starter next season.
Jose Bautista: 40 Percent
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2012 has been a bizarre season for Jose Bautista.
For whatever reason, he didn't seem comfortable out of the gate and appeared to have lost a bit of his swagger. Then, when he was finally getting it back, hitting 14 home runs in June, Bautista went down with a wrist injury.
Bautista hit two home runs in a rehab game in Double-A on Thursday, so it might seem easy to expect him to be 100 percent in 2013. But does that mean he'll return to his vintage form?
What would Jays fans be happy with from Bautista? Would he need to hit .300 with 40 home runs? Or would a line of .240, 30 HR and 100 RBI suffice? Bautista's 2013 will likely be closer to the latter based on his career numbers and struggles in 2012.
Drew Hutchison: 25 Percent
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One of four Blue Jay pitchers to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2012, Drew Hutchison was exceeding expectations before his injury. He was expected to stay in Double-A New Hampshire for the majority of the year.
Hutchison steadily improved after a rough start to his career.
In his last six full starts, Hutchison posted a 4-2 record with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Based on those numbers, he has potential. He's still only 22 years old and now has a decent amount of major-league experience.
Again, it's a matter of perception with Hutchison. If Blue Jays fans expect him to be an above-average fourth starter, they're going to be disappointed. It's much more likely that in 2013, Hutchison goes through both literal pain and growing pains as he develops as a pitcher.
It's actually more likely he spends the better part of 2013 in the minors. That doesn't mean he'll be a disappointment, it just means that fans need to soften their expectations for Hutchison.