The Toronto Blue Jays failed to make the playoffs last season, for the first time since 2014, coming in fourth place in the AL East with a 76-86 record.
Marcus Stroman remains the ace of the staff. He began the spring a bit late with shoulder inflammation, but started the regular season healthy.
The Chicago White Sox will avoid Stroman this series after he pitched five innings of four-run ball against the New York Yankees on Sunday.
The rest of pitching staff includes veteran pitchers Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Jaime Garcia and 25-year-old Aaron Sanchez. Happ pitched only 4 ⅔ innings in the team’s opener last Thursday, giving up three runs and throwing 96 pitches.
The Blue Jays did, however, earn a split against the power-heavy Yankees over the weekend.
Toronto’s lineup doesn’t have as much pop as in recent years, when Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion menaced hurlers, but it is still respectable.
Justin Smoak finished well last year and hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game to give the Blue Jays a four-run lead. Smoak is batting .467 on the early season. He and Kevin Pillar have been the only two Jays with much success at the plate so far.
Josh Donaldson, Randal Grichuk and Yangervis Solarte round out the middle of the order.
Troy Tulowitzki is still in the organization, but you guessed it ... he’s hurt. The former standout shortstop has struggled to stay on the field in recent years, and this time around will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs in both of his ankles.
Toronto may have difficulties winning in one of baseball’s toughest divisions. A reasonable expectation for the Blue Jays would be competing for a wild card berth, with the likes of the Boston Red Sox and Yankees adding valuable assets to their respective clubs.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Monday, April 2
Reynaldo Lopez vs. Jaime Garcia
Tuesday, April 3
Miguel Gonzalez vs. J.A. Happ
Wednesday, April 4
Carson Fulmer vs. Aaron Sanchez