2018 Record: 73 – 89
2018 Finish: 4th in the AL East, 10th in the American League
Surprises in 2018
Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., younger brother of Houston’s Yuli Gurriel, started his 2018 season in playing for Toronto’s AA affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats. However, it only took 12 games and for Gurriel to pack up his .347 average and head to the major league squad on April 20th. The Cuban born second baseman had a solid season, batting .281 with 11 HRs/35 RBIs/70 Hits/30 Runs. And he did that all over 65 games in the bigs.
If he can have a good spring, he could make himself a more permanent fixture for the Jays in 2019. Given his willingness to play multiple positions, and his recent unveiling of being the Canadian cover of RBI Baseball 2019, I think he has a legitimate shot.
Every team is looking for a Marwin Gonzalez type player, and the Blue Jays already have one in their system.
Disappointments in 2018
When your team leader in wins barely cracks double digits with 10 you have a problem.
When he was also your team leader in strikeouts with 130 your problem is growing.
When that guy was traded to a division rival before the deadline at the end of July, you have to take a hard look at your staff.
That’s right, J.A. Happ led the Jays with 10 wins and 130 strikeouts before being traded to the Yankees on July 26th. Without him, they wouldn’t have a single double-digit game winner at the end of the season. That’s pathetic.
Marco Estrada should have been the guy to pick up the slack. But he was less than stellar. He led the staff in losses (14), and the rest of his numbers look like he needs to take a long look in the mirror. He went 7-14 with a 5.64 ERA over 143 2/3 innings, amassing only 103 Ks. He gave up more hits (155) than innings pitched, and allowed 91 runs, 29 of which came via the long ball.
Then comes the bullpen. Woof. Sure, they went a combined 34-22, but your bullpen shouldn’t be picking up nearly 50% of your team’s wins, and contributing to roughly 25% of your losses. Of all the guys who pitched at least 10 times, only one of them, Roberto Osuna, had a sub-3.00 ERA. Tyler Clippard and Ryan Tepera may be the only two who can say they had somewhat decent years. They combined for 140 appearances, a 9-8 record, each had 14 saves and a combined 32 holds with ERAs in the mid 3s (3.46 for Clippard and 3.62 for Tepera).
All that said, though. That’s not that great. They need a reboot, and fast.
Looking Ahead to 2019
This is a tough spot for the Jays in an even tougher division. The Red Sox will come back strong after their World Series win. The Yankees are going back to their old ways and spending an arm and a leg. The Rays are losing a giant chunk of their stadium capacity so who are they even playing for? And the Orioles…well, the Orioles may be worse than the Jays. So at least there’s that.
The fact is, Toronto needs to change their philosophy if they want to compete. And all they’re really doing in 2019 is competing for third at best. It’s hard to be the team that doesn’t want to spend money on hometown heroes like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and also try to outspend the Red Sox and Yankees.
The Blue Jays need to find that middleground, which is easier said than done.
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