Spring training will soon be coming to a close, and the boys of summer are back for another year of bats, bases, and balls. The Jays have put up a decent record of 12-11 so far in Florida’s Grapefruit League, putting them eighth overall. Although there are three American League East divisional rivals ahead of them in the standings – the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Yankees – it’s still only the preseason. The regular season is a 162-game marathon and anything can happen. One bright spot is Jose Bautista, looking to be once again in fine home-run form. He currently leads American League hitters with 5 homers in the preseason.
We still don’t know what the lineup will be for opening day on March 31st versus the Rays, but here are some likely projections: Jose Reyes at shortstop (if recovered from a sore hamstring); Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, and Melky Cabrera in the outfield; Adam Lind at first base; Ryan Goins at second base; Canadian Brett Lawrie at third base; Dioner Navarro as catcher; and Edwin Encarnacion as the designated hitter. The starting pitching rotation could look like: knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, and possibly Dustin McGowan or J.A. Happ to round out the rotation, with Casey Janssen as the closer.
The Jays will finish off spring training with two exhibition games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal this weekend. Facing off against the Mets, they will be bringing baseball back to the storied (and famous) home of the relocated Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). Then it’s back down to Florida for opening day against the Tampa Bay Rays, who are currently leading the Grapefruit league with a commanding 15-5 record. After a four game series in Tampa, the Jays’ Home Opener will take place on Friday, April 4th at Rogers Centre versus the New York Yankees.
It’s shaping up to be a solid year for the Blue Jays: veteran presence and youthful talent throughout the roster, heavy hitters Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup, plus a quality pitching rotation that could make an impact if they stay healthy. Although they’re in an astonishingly difficult division, if they have a strong start, a productive offense, and a little luck on the injury front the Jays could be in the conversation for their first playoff berth since 1993’s World Series win.
What are you thoughts on the Toronto Blue Jays this season? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.