2020 Toronto Blue Jays Season Preview and Betting Picks

by Mark Daloisio | March 20, 2020 |

Toronto (67-95) finished in 4th place in the AL East 36 games back of the 1st place NY Yankees.  They were 29 games behind 2nd place Tampa Bay and 17 back of 3rd place Boston.

The Jays finished 7 games ahead of last-place Baltimore.  The wildcard was nowhere within reach either, actually 29 games out of reach, but at least there were three other teams in the American League who were worse off than the Jays.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

SS Bo Bichette (Bo started off his career by setting a MLB record with doubles in 9 straight games.  He cooled off after that but still had a pretty solid rookie season. He hit .311 with 11 home runs & 21 rbi’s and scored 32 runs.  He has 61 hits including 18 doubles and stole 4 bases in just 46 games. He should do well in all the main offensive categories for a shortstop)

Cavan Biggio (Cavan got the callup last May and has worked his way into the starting second baseman this season.  His batting average was a little low at .234 and he struck out a little too much (123 times), but he was known for that in the minors, but he is one of the best at taking a walk as he walked 71 times last season in 100 games.  He hit 16 home runs with 48 rbi’s and scored 83 runs. He had 83 hits (17 doubles & 2 triples) and stole 14 bases. He certainly has the potential to be a 20/20 player next season or certainly in the very near future)

OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr (With so much young talent on this team, this guy sort of gets overlooked and that might be a mistake by opposing pitchers.  This will be his third season and the improvement in year two was significant. His batting average pretty much stayed the same, he hit .277.  His home runs went from 11 to 20, rbi’s 35 to 50. Runs scored 30 to 52, hits 70 to 87, doubles 8 to 19, walks 9 to 20 and steals from 1 to 6. Now he played in 19 more games than the previous season but what is impressive is last seasons totals were just in 84 games, just barely over a half-season)

3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr (The whole baseball world was waiting for Vlad Jr to come up to see what he could do, no pressure right?  Does it sound mean if I say his season was a disappointment? Anybody else and his numbers would have been acceptable.  He was hurt in the spring and that may have contributed to a slow start but he picked it up in the second half and played much better in the second half.  He hit .272 with 15 home runs & 69 rbi’s, scoring 52 runs. He had 126 hits (26 doubles & 2 triples) with no stolen bases. Now that he got that pressure-filled first season out of the way, he is certainly capable of exploding in year number two)

1B Travis Shaw (Travis needs to put 2019 behind him.  After back to back 30 home run seasons, he hit just 7 last season and completely fell apart.  He was batting just .163 through 40 games and hurt his wrist landing on the IL. Upon returning his play did not improve and he was sent down to the minors.  He never regained his starting job last season and only played in 86 games. He hit just .157 with 7 home runs and 16 rbi’s with 22 runs scored. The Jays are hoping 2019 was just one of the unexplainable things)

OF Randal Grichuk  (Last season was the first time that Randal was an everyday player and although his numbers rose, they did not increase as much as they should have.  So outwardly it looks like he had an improved season but he really did not. He hit .232 with 31 home runs & 80 rbi’s and scored 75 runs. He had 136 hits (29 doubles & 5 triples) with 35 walks and two stolen bases.  I still think those are pretty good numbers, especially the home runs. Look for the power numbers to continue as he gets more comfortable in his role as an everyday player for the Jays)

DH Teoscar Hernandez (Teoscar is a guy who is not going to hit for average but should be good for 25/30 home runs each season.  You have to tolerate his strikeouts in order to get his power. On a good year, he should come close to 90 rbi’s and 80 runs scored. Last season he hit .230 with 26 homers & 65 rbi’s with 58 runs scored.  He had 96 hits (19 doubles & 2 triples) with 45 walks and 153 strikeouts with 6 stolen bases in 123 games. Expect more games played barring injuries and slightly higher numbers) 

OF Derek Fisher (Derek came over from Houston at the trade deadline last season after playing in just 17 games for the Astros.  Derek can play all three outfield positions which give him the best shot at the final outfield position on the team.   In 40 games with Toronto last season, he hit .161 with 6 home runs & 12 rbi’s and scored 14 runs. Nothing to get too excited about but they do not have a lot of options and he is currently the best choice unless someone better pops up this spring)

C  Danny Jansen (There are not too many catchers in the league that have great offensive numbers, most of the are there to catch and help out a little on the offensive end.  His .207 batting average last season ranked him next to last in baseball but be he entered the league as a minor leaguer who knew how to handle the bat. He did hit 10 more homers than his rookie season last year, so maybe there is hope.  He ended up hitting just .207 with 13 home runs & 43 rbi’s and 41 runs scored with 72 hits. I think his third season will be his best yet)

STARTING PITCHERS

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (Ryu is a huge addition to this pitching staff coming over from the Dodgers.  He was 14-5 with a 2.32 era and a 1.01 WHIP last season. He is not a huge strikeout pitcher and never has been, but still allowed only 160 hits in 182.2 innings pitched.  He does not walk many and keeps the ball in the park. He walked just 24 batters and allowed only 17 home runs. That is how he has been successful. The only concern I have is the move from pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium to  the Rogers Centre and coming over to the American League)

RHP Chase Anderson (Chase had 4 very respectable seasons with Milwaukee and rather than pay him the $8.5 million on his contract.   I think it is a good pickup for the Jays. His last three years had winning records, although last year say his era rise to 4.21 his worst since 2016.  He went 8-4 with a 4.21 era allowing 126 hits in 139 innings pitched and struck out just 124. He started 27 games out of 32 appearances. His ERA & WHIP the past three seasons have been better than the league average so he still has something to give)

RHP Tanner Roark (It appears Tanner’s better days are behind him.  After spending the first 6 years of his career with Washington, he spent last year between Cincinnati & Oakland.  After making 21 starts for Cincinnati with a record of 6-7 with an era of 4.24, he was shipped to Oakland at the trade deadline.  He made 10 starts with the A’s going 4-3 but had a higher era of 4.58. He gave up 9 home runs in his last 18 innings pitched last season.  Whether he can stop the bleeding or not this season, I don’t know. If Toronto wants to compete this season, they need to watch him closely this year)

RHP Matt Shoemaker (Due to injuries Matt has pitched in just 12 games the past two seasons and 26 the past three seasons.  He has no limitations heading into 2020 and is supposed to be 100% healthy. Last season he looked really good before injuring himself again and missing the rest of the season.  In 5 starts he went 3-0 with a 1.57 era and 0.87 WHIP pitching just 28.2 innings. He allowed just 16 hits and struck out 24. So he is still capable but we need to see more of a longer time frame from him to be sure)

RHP Trent Thornton (As of now Trent is the choice as the 5th starter.  I am not sure what this says about the season they had last year but Trent tied for the team lead in wins with 6 last year as a rookie.  He was 6-9 with a 4.84 era in 29 starts. He allowed 156 hits & struck out 149 in 154.1 innings pitched. He walked 61 and gave up 24 home runs.  I would say he deserves a shot as the 5th starter to open up the season)

CLOSER – RHP Ken Giles (Ken was traded to Toronto in 2018 and had 14 saves but had an era of 4.12.  He corrected all of that last season going 2-3 with an era of 1.87 and a WHIP of 1.00.  He had 23 saves with only 1 blown save. He allowed just 36 hits in 53 innings pitched and struck out 83 men.  He has been dealing with elbow soreness last season, so that is a concern and something to keep an eye on.

There is no question eventually this Blue Jay team is going to compete.  They have plenty of the sons of some pretty great players on their team. I know that does not guarantee anything, but Bo, Cavan & Vlad have all looked pretty good so far after just one season.   The pitching staff is still shaky, but the addition of Hyun-Jin Ryu is a huge plus and might help the other guys.

I will be rooting for the young guys, but it takes more than three to make a team and it takes more than one great starting pitcher to make a rotation.  This team is still at least one year away from competing. I thinking 75½ wins is just a little too large of a jump for me to be comfortable with, so I am going UNDER.

BETONLINE SEASON WIN TOTAL: 75½

Take UNDER 75½ wins

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