6-14 isn’t a pretty record, to put it mildly.
The Blue Jays were lining up to be a quality team in 2017. The offense, albeit missing Edwin Encarnacion, was looking strong, and the pitching, while missing a sixth starter, is clearly stronger than that of last season. Then came spring training. Toronto has posted a 6-14 record in their first 22 games, and if spring is any indication, this season won’t go well. But does it matter?
There are multiple reasons why the Blue Jays aren’t performing well in spring. First and foremost, they are missing key offensive players at the top of their lineup. Josh Donaldson, who injured his calf at Toronto’s first full squad workout just played in his first spring training game today, while Jose Bautista has missed significant time with Team Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Bautista looks primed for another all-star season after a down year in 2016, where he spent considerable time on the disabled list with turf toe. Additionally, Kendrys Morales, with his always-reliable exit velocity and the move he his making to a smaller park in Rogers Centre, can be expected to fill most of Edwin Encarnacion’s shoes.
Marcus Stroman is still elsewhere, currently lined up to pitch for Team USA in the WBC finals, should they make it that far. In his time at the classic, he’s been mostly lights out, save a few tricky situations. Francisco Liriano, who struck out 10 in his most recent outing, is in midseason form., and Aaron Sanchez, without an inning limit, can be expected to contribute fully in 2017. J.A. Happ has encountered trouble so far this spring, and some regression can be expected in 2017, but, because there is a reason behind his reinvention (he was reunited with an old pitching coach in 2015, with the Pirates), it’s easy to see Happ pitching well this season.
Another concerning aspect of spring, as mentioned previously, is Toronto’s lack of a sixth starter. Their most appealing option, Mat Latos, has encountered trouble so far. He’s allowed a home run in all but one of his five appearances so far, a trait that doesn’t bode well in the small Rogers Centre.
Overall, the Blue Jays look, for lack of a better word, good. So far this spring, they haven’t been at their best, but that can be expected. Prior to the season, players aren’t concentrated on winning. They focus on specific parts of their game, like looking for a specific pitch at the plate or trying improve their footing on tough defensive plays. From the observable signs, things look good.
You can follow Travis on Instagram at @travaylward and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article formulated by Travis Aylward, edited and published by Mark Colley