| Thu 05/03/2015 - 13:47 EST

      Toronto Blue Jays 2015 Season Preview

      Toronto Blue Jays 2015 Season Preview

      Toronto Blue Jays Futures

      Odds To Win Division: +275

      Odds To Win AL Pennant: 10/1

      Odds To Win World Series: 25/1

      Regular Season Win Total: 83.5

      Most Significant Offseason Changes 

      Biggest Additions:

      Russell Martin, C

      Josh Donaldson, 3B

      Michael Saunders, OF

      Marco Estrada, SP 

      Biggest Losses:

      Melky Cabrera, OF

      Casey Janssen, RP

      Brett Lawrie, 3B

      Adam Lind, 1B

      Colby Rasmus, OF

      They’ll Be Successful If…

      The Blue Jays will need improvement in bullpen efficiency and a healthy lineup for their success. Aaron Sanchez and Brett Cecil have the potential to be a strong setup man and closer combination, and if Steve Delabar can return to All-Star levels, the bullpen may no longer be a liability. If Macro Stroman, Drew Hutchinson and Aaron Sanchez continue to improve, the Jays could boast their best rotation in years with some of the best young arms in the league. With upgrades in the infield and an already dangerous combination in Bautista and Encarnacion seeing All-Star Josh Donaldson join them, the Blue Jays have arguably the best power hitting combination in the East. They finished third in the Majors last season with 177 home runs and were fourth with a .414 slugging percentage. With the addition of Russell Martin, who batted .290 last season, and Donaldson, who was tied for 12th in home runs (29), the Jays batting lineup could be the most feared in the big leagues.

      They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…

      As they have for the past few years, the Blue Jays reliance on the long ball has been a downfall. If injuries to Bautista or Encarncion occur, teams will be able to pitch around the remaining power bat, forcing a below average "bottom of the lineup" to pick up the slack. Injuries have plagued the Blue Jays in the past as Bautista has played 118 games or less in two of the last three seasons. Last season, Edwin Encarnacion played 128. With Michael Saunders already pegged to miss - at minimum - the first few weeks of the season, the team cannot afford to lose any star players for prolonged periods of time. The Jays have a solid frontlines but if they’re forced to dig into their depth anywhere on the roster, they’re in trouble. The bullpen lacks a proven closer and if Cecil cannot produce, the Blue Jays may be forced to go with Sanchez earlier than planned. There’s also the concern that starters Mark Buehrle (will be 36 on March 23rd) and R.A. Dickey (40-years-old) are over the hill, yet will be counted on for significant contributions. That’s a concern. If they fail, it will put a lot of pressure on the remaining young starters and that’s likely a burden they can’t handle just yet.

      Fantasy Bargain: Drew Hutchinson, SP

      One year removed from Tommy John surgery, Drew Hutchison posted respectable numbers in 2014 and should improve in 2015. He ranked 8th in the American League in total strikeouts with 184 and strikeouts per 9 innings pitched with 8.97, as well as posting 11 wins. With a full year under his belty, he should be able to pass the 200-inning threshold and lower his ERA (which was 4.48) and WHIP (which was 1.26).

      Outlook

      If the roster can remain healthy and the young talents of the team can make a positive step forward, the Blue Jays are in prime position to contend for the playoffs. If the power hitters can stay healthy and the offseason additions can produce at a high level, the team could make up for a mediocre "bottom of the lineup" and an unproven bullpen.  

      Prediction: 2nd In AL East

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