Let’s be honest, the Toronto Blue Jays did not have the prettiest of seasons in 2018. They finished the year with a 73-89 record, finishing 4th in the A.L. East, and were left out of the postseason for the second straight season. With that being said, all hope is not lost for the Jays as they enter 2019 with a clean slate. With a middle of the lineup that features some serious pop and a rotation that is led by a young ace, the Jays could find themselves surprising some people come summertime. We start our article however, talking about the top prospect in baseball, who looks to make a huge splash in the majors during his rookie season.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Name sound familiar? Well it very well might for two reasons. For starters, Guerrero Jr. is, and has been, the top prospect in baseball for quite some time. The 20-year-old from Montreal, has been hyped up for years now and the anticipation of his major league debut, has become almost lethal. The second reason why this name might sound familiar, is because he is the son of hall of fame outfielder, Vladimir Guerrero. The common saying goes, like father like son, and this could not be more of the case. Vladdy Jr. rakes like his dad in more ways than one. Vlad Jr. has dominated the minor league circuit for quite sometime now, which have left fans ready and charged, for the young mans eventual major league debut. Is Guerrero Jr. going to be the next great hitter in the majors? It is much too early to say. But I do know that he is one of the most exciting prospects that this game has ever seen and I can not wait to see what he does in the show.
If the Blue Jays want to see any success in 2019, they will need to rely heavily on their power hitting first basemen, Justin Smoak. Smoak, a 32-year-old from South Carolina, has slowly established himself as one of the more reliable power hitters in the game. In 2017, Smoak hit for a career high 38 home runs to go along with 90 runs batted in. Last season, Smoak smacked 25 home runs to go along with a .350 OBP and a .808 OPS. Smoak is not the best hitter you will ever come across, and heck he’s not the most skillful either, but he is consistent and that productivity will do wonders for Blue Jays in 2019.
As we transition to the pitching staff of the Toronto Blue Jays, I would like to talk about one of my favorite players in the game, Marcus Stroman. I LOVE me some Marcus Stroman. Ever since he joined the league in 2014, I have rooted for him to succeed every single time he toes the rubber. I also love the swagger and confidence my man portrays on the mound and feel that this is one of the reasons why I am so fond of him. Coming into 2019, Stroman is expected to be the ace of this Blue Jays staff. Although Stroman has the pure skill set to become a leader and ace for this club, he is going to need to drastically improve as 2018 was not a year to remember for the Duke grad. Stroman finished his 2018 campaign with a lousy 5.54 ERA to go along with a pathetic 4-9 record. The swagger was no longer there for the young righty from New York and at times, he seemed completely lost on the mound. I am not yet ready to give up on Stroman however, and feel that this down year is only going to lead to a huge bounce back, come 2019.
Complementing Stroman at the 2, comes a new face from Anaheim in the likes of Matt Shoemaker. Shoemaker, a 32-year-old from Michigan, is excited to call Toronto his new home after signing a one-year deal with the Jays during the offseason. Shoemaker comes into the season looking to bring depth and durability to a starting rotation that struggled so mightily just a year ago. Shoemaker is a guy that does not have the most disgusting stuff in the world, but has enough to get job done. In 2018, Shoemaker finished the season with a 4.94 ERA to go along with a 2-2 record. With this being said, Shoemaker found himself starting just 7 games in 2018, as the injury bug left him sidelined for quite sometime. I am not sure exactly what to expect from Shoemaker in 2019, but I know that the Blue Jays need help in their rotation, and they will take whatever they can get at this point.
So what can we expect from this Blue Jays team come 2019? I think we are looking at a team that is not going to be very good, but is going to be slightly better than people expect. I feel that when they decide to call up Vlad Jr., it will instill a ray of sunshine over the city and clubhouse, that will be followed by some sort of success. Overall, I see this team winning anywhere from 68-74 ballgames this season and I think it goes without saying, that they will not be a playoff team this year. However, the Jays have a good farm system and in a few years time, Toronto will yet again, experience success. Hang in there Blue Jays fans, I know how much it sucks but I promise, it does get better.