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Toronto Blue Jays 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Toronto Blue Jays 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Toronto Blue Jays 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

A bounce-back from the depths of rebuild purgatory should start in 2020 for the Toronto Blue Jays, who firmly believe the arrow on their trajectory is pointed up after three years of struggle, torment and pain. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Danny Jansen, among others, were all integrated during a miserable 2019 that ended with a 67-95 record and an attendance that dipped below two million for the first time since 2011. They are the future, as is righthander Nate Pearson, the last of their near-term, gilt-edged prospects who is expected to break through this year. After rebuilding their rotation with All-Star lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson, a return to competitive baseball could begin as soon as this year, even if the jump to legitimate contention doesn’t come until 2021.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Blue Jays

“They’re stuck in that middle space, baseball purgatory. They have dynamic young players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but they don’t have the players around them to be playoff-caliber, and it’s unclear if they have the money to build via free agency. They gave a two-year deal to Tanner Roark, but he’s more of the same in that rotation, another league-average, low-ceiling innings-eater like Matt Shoemaker and Chase Anderson. Anthony Kay, who they got from the Mets for Marcus Stroman, profiles the same way. Catcher Danny Jansen is a good building block, but you wonder about guys like Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez; sure, they hit 20 homers, but that’s not too special anymore, and they don’t offer much else. They made a big investment in Randal Grichuk, but he doesn’t do much for me; like a lot of these guys, he just doesn’t get on base enough to be a very valuable player.”

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Beyond the Box Score

Key Cog Cavan Biggio didn’t enjoy the same fanfare that greeted Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but his all-around game makes him the type of player every winning team needs. An example of his range came in an 8-5 win at Baltimore Sept. 17, when he became the third Blue Jays player to hit for the cycle, a performance that also included two important stolen bases. He finished the year with 14 steals without getting caught once.

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2020 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Where are the Wins?

 While wins are clearly not a very meaningful measure of a pitcher’s performance, it is revealing that Trent Thornton — along with Marcus Stroman and Daniel Hudson, both traded ahead of the deadline — tied for the team lead at six. That’s the fewest wins to lead the staff in franchise history, well under the previous low of nine by Tom Underwood in 1979.

Continuity Needed Along a similar vein, the Blue Jays used 21 different starters in 2019, and while openers accounted for seven of those, it’s still a remarkable amount of churn. For context, they fell just short of matching the dubious record for most starters used in a season of 24 established by the 1915 Philadelphia Athletics, who went 43-109.

Good Deeds Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas just as the minor league season was ending for outfield prospect Chavez Young, who couldn’t get to Freeport to be with brothers Clayton and Corey during the storm. Instead, Young stayed with the Bichette family in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for the Salvation Army World Service Office. Though the Youngs’ home flooded, they’ve been able to restart their lives while also helping others.

Personnel Losses The Pirates’ firing of GM Neal Huntington proved costly to the Blue Jays, who lost both vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington and amateur scouting director Steve Sanders to Pittsburgh’s retooling. Cherington took over as GM there and quickly brought over Sanders to serve as assistant GM.

Wheeling and Dealing Starting with Kendrys Morales on the eve of the season, the Blue Jays traded eight big league players during the 2019 season, the final phase of what became a two-year sell-off. Come the trade deadline this summer, they should be in a position to add rather than subtract, and save for closer Ken Giles, any veterans traded now will likely be moved because young players are forcing them out.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

SS    Bo Bichette (R)

2B    Cavan Biggio (L)

LF    Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R)

3B    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R)

1B    Travis Shaw (L)

RF    Randal Grichuk (R)

CF    Teoscar Hernandez (R)

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C      Danny Jansen (R)

DH    Rowdy Tellez (L)

BENCH

UT    Brandon Drury (R)

C      Reese McGuire (L)
OF    Derek Fisher (L)

OF    Anthony Alford (R)

ROTATION

LHP    Hyun-Jin Ryu

RHP    Tanner Roark

RHP    Chase Anderson

RHP    Matt Shoemaker

RHP    Shun Yamaguchi

BULLPEN

RHP    Ken Giles (C)

RHP    Anthony Bass

RHP    Sam Gaviglio

RHP    Wilmer Font

RHP    Jordan Romano

LHP    Thomas Pannone

RHP    Jacob Waguespack

RHP    Trent Thornton

2020 Prediction: 4th in AL East