2015 Toronto Blue Jays Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/26/2015
In determining a schedule for these 2015 MLB season previews, I was going off the list of World Series odds at Sportsbook.ag, working my way from the bottom up. Thus, I almost accidentally overlooked the Blue Jays because their World Series odds were much shorter than currently, with a season-ending injury to presumed ace pitcher Marcus Stroman inflating those odds and dropping the Jays down the pack.
Pittsburgh ended the longest playoff drought in the National League two years ago, and Kansas City ended the longest AL and overall postseason drought last year. That means the longest absence now belongs to the Jays. It makes me feel pretty old in that I clearly remember Joe Carter hitting that game-winning home run off Phillies closer Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams to win the 1993 World Series in Game 6 in Toronto. That was the Jays' second straight Fall Classic title, and they looked like a potential dynasty because they were outdrawing every team in the majors at the SkyDome, which back then was a marvel of architecture.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
However, Toronto hasn't sniffed 90 wins since, although last year's 83-79 mark was the team's first winning record since 2010. I definitely thought 90 wins and the AL East title were attainable this season with a healthy Stroman. Now?
Blue Jays 2015 Projected Lineup
Toronto said goodbye to four regulars from last season in outfielders Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus, infielder Brett Lawrie and first baseman/DH Adam Lind. Four pretty good players, although Rasmus and Lawrie had trouble staying healthy. I still think this is the best lineup in the American League.
You have to have a quality leadoff hitter to have a great offense, and Toronto does in shortstop Jose Reyes, but it's all about him staying on the field. He largely did last season, playing 143 games and hitting .287 with nine homers, 51 RBIs, 30 steals and 94 runs. The Jays will take that again, although I expect triple-digit runs.
Catcher Russell Martin, one of the five best overall at the position in the majors, should hit second. The Canadian was the team's big free-agent acquisition as at the last minute the Jays outbid the Cubs by offering $82 million. Martin had one of his best years in 2014 with Pittsburgh, batting .290 with 11 homers and 67 RBIs in 379 at-bats -- he'll get more at-bats this season. Martin also was terrific defensively, among the best at throwing out runners.
Then you have a 3-4-5 that may be the best in baseball: right fielder Jose Bautista, first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion and third baseman Josh Donaldson. Bautista and Encarnacion combined for 39 homers and 201 RBIs last year despite Encarnacion playing only 128 games. Each are capable of 40 dingers and 110 RBIs. Donaldson was acquired in trade from Oakland (for Lawrie and prospects), and he might be the best third baseman in the AL. Donaldson batted .255 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs in 158 games last season and was named to his first All-Star team.
That top five better rake, because the bottom four is not great. Left fielder Michael Saunders (.273, eight HRs, 34 RBIs) is a solid enough player. He was acquired from Seattle. Saunders hurt his knee very early in the spring, and the fear was he might miss half the season; now he could play in the opener. The rest: first baseman Justin Smoak (some days Dioner Navarro, also the backup catcher, will DH and then Encarnacion would play first), center fielder Dalton Pompey (acquired from Tigers) and second baseman Maicer Izturis. It's expected that Izturis will start the season on the DL, however. So either Devon Travis or Ryan Goins will man second until he's ready. That's clearly the weak spot on the team.
Blue Jays 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
Stroman tore his ACL on a fielding play in camp, which is such a shame as he could have been a dark-horse Cy Young candidate. Like most rookies, he struggled a bit early last season out of the bullpen but was moved to the rotation at the end of May. From that point on, Stroman was 10-6 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 103-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
So now you have two soft-tossing veterans atop the rotation in knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (14-13, 3.71) and lefty Mark Buehrle (11-6, 3.65). They will give you innings at least but rely a lot on their defense. There will be games those guys get shelled. I think Drew Hutchison (11-13, 4.48) will have a nice year.
The questions are at the back end where kids Aaron Sanchez (2-2, 1.09 ERA in 33.0 innings) and Daniel Norris (just 6.2 innings last season in the majors) round it out. Sanchez probably was bullpen-bound before the Stroman injury. The Jays also acquired veteran starter Marco Estrada from Milwaukee for Lind, but Estrada has been dealing with an ankle injury and hasn't been good this spring. He'll go to the bullpen.
Brett Cecil will close things out (Sanchez might have). Cecil had a 2.70 ERA and 76/27 K/BB ratio in 53 1/3 innings last season. Keep an eye on fireballing youngster Miguel Castro, who has been lights out this spring. There had been some talk of the Jays trading for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, but that has died down. Castro could take over if Cecil struggles or gets hurt.
Blue Jays Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Toronto is +2500 to win the World Series, +1200 to take the pennant, +300 second favorite with Baltimore in the AL East and with an "over/under" wins total of 82.5 (over a -125 favorite). Encarnacion is +1200 to lead the majors in homers, while Bautista is +1600 and Donaldson +3300. Donaldson is +1600 to win AL MVP and Bautista +2500. Dickey is +10000 to win AL Cy Young. At Sportsbook.ag, Encarnacion has a total of 32.5 homers as does Bautista. The Blue Jays were 87-75 against the spread last season and 78-79-5 O/U. On the moneyline, they were +119 units on the year.
Blue Jays 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Toronto to finish third in the AL East with a record of 81-81. That seems low to me, even with the Stroman injury. The Blue Jays looked into Philly starting pitcher Cole Hamels this winter and probably will again if they need rotation help. The price should come down a big closer to the July 31 trade deadline. If the Jays get him, they win the division. I still think they can without him, but it largely depends on Sanchez and Norris. Go over the wins total, and Bautista isn't a bad bet on the home-run prop. Over on both Bautista's and Encarnacion's homer props.
Doc's is offering $60 worth of member baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit for any of our top MLB handicappers. Click here for free MLB picks now. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's Free MLB Picks
Get all of Today's 100% Profit Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks