2010 Record: 85-77
2010 Finish: Fourth in AL East
Key Additions: RP/CL Frank Fransisco, RP/CL Jon Rauch, RP/CL Octavio Dotel, OF Juan Rivera, 2B/3B Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis CF
Key Losses: SP Shaun Marcum, 1B Lyle Overbay, C John Buck, OF Vernon Wells
Why They’ll Win the Wild Card
Even with the loss of mound warrior and clubhouse favorite Shaun Marcum, Toronto has an incredibly exciting young staff with no starter over the age of 26.
Ace Ricky Romero surpassed the 200-innings plateau for the first time last year, putting up 210. He ended the season with a record of 14-9 and an ERA/WHIP slash line of 3.73/1.29.
He’s followed by everyone’s favorite 2011 breakout pitcher, Brandon Morrow, who started off rough with control issues but was one of the best pitchers in baseball after the All-Star break with a 5-1 record to go along with a 3.69/1.21 slash line and a monstrous 13.08 K/9.
This included one of the most dominant performances in baseball history.
On August 8th, Morrow came within one out of a no-no against Tampa Bay. His final line: nine innings pitched, one hit, two walks and 17 strikeouts. The record for K’s in a no-hitter is 17, by Nolan Ryan in 1973.
Youngsters Brett Cecil (led the club with 15 wins in 2010), Jesse Litsch and prized rookie Kyle Drabek round out the rest of this high-upside staff.
Why They Won’t
With a staff as young as Toronto’s, some volatility and inconsistency is expected. However, the two biggest factors negatively affecting this club will be a suspect bullpen and a revamped, lighter-hitting offense.
With the free agent losses of Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo, Brian Tallet and Kevin Gregg, GM Alex Anthopoulos' top offseason priority was to replenish his 'pen. He then went out and found a trio of flame throwers in Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch and Frank Fransisco, with youngster David Purcey taking over the role of lefty specialist.
However, the season hasn’t even started and already Dotel, Fransisco and Jesse Carlson have all been placed on the DL, putting further strain on an already suspect unit.
Now, with the Wells trade, a team that led the majors with 257 home runs last year will find a hard time replacing his 31 round-trippers. Add to that John Buck’s 20, Lyle Overbay’s 20 and Alex Gonzalez’s 17, for a total of 88 lost homers.
Without all that protection, Jose Bautista will be hard-pressed to repeat his astounding 54 home-run campaign, and expecting youngsters Travis Snider and JP Arencibia to pick up all that slack is asking far too much.