The Blue Jays were dealt a crushing blow Tuesday morning. RHP Marcus Stroman tore his ACL while doing PFPs (pitchers fielding practice).
PFPs are something that every pitcher, young or old, professional or amateur, has to work on. Simply put, it’s bunt defense.
Stroman has done PFPs over 1000 times in his life span. Sometimes, all it takes is one unlucky step to end a promising 2015 campaign.
Upon hearing the news, Blue Jays fans were blind sided, and probably felt a little bit like this woman at the Charlotte game.
I am here to tell you not to hit that panic button despite how you may feel. Here’s why:
DON’T FORGET THE OFFENSE
Barring any set backs, Toronto’s top four batters in the lineup will be among the best in the MLB in 2015:
1. Jose Reyes – 143 GP .287 AVG 9 HRs 30 SBs
2. Josh Donaldson – 158 GP .255 AVG 29 HR 98 RBI
3. Edwin Encarnacion – 128 GP .268 AVG 34 HR 98 RBI
4. Jose Bautista – 155 GP .286 AVG 35 HR 103 RBI
When you factor in Russell Martin having one of his best career batting statistics last season, this offense will be intimidating, and will have the ability to steal games.
WITH INJURY COMES OPPORTUNITY
About a week ago, I wrote about the young guns, under the age of 25, who are going to have a big impact on the season. Stroman was one of them, but there were also three other pitchers that I discussed. Sanchez and Norris now have a golden opportunity to start in the rotation and make a name for themselves in Toronto. Both of them were able to get their feet wet in the big leagues last year, showing they have the ability to pitch at the highest level. To learn more about these pitchers in 2014- click here: http://www.baseballessential.com/news/2015/03/06/the-future-is-now-for-the-2015-toronto-blue-jays/
Norris may have started in Buffalo in 2015, where he would eat up innings in hopes for an early return to the Blue Jays, but with Stroman sidelined, the 21-year-old has to be relishing at the chance to show off his five pitch repertoire. Sanchez has also stated numerous times that he wants to be a starter in the MLB, well, now is his chance. Norris pitched 130 innings last year, Sanchez 133 innings, which means they should be able to handle the workload at the end of the rotation.
Marco Estrada is another name in the mix, but, after he got touched up for seven runs on seven hits in 0.2 innings of work against the Rays, it’s hard to see him beginning the season in the rotation. His ERA now sits at 15.43 in Spring Training.
Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, with 26 years in the MLB between them, will have to not only anchor the rotation, but be available to these youngsters, who will want to pick their brains throughout the season.
Picked by many to have a break out season, Drew Hutchison will need to be the most consistent pitcher in the rotation if the Blue Jays have a shot at October baseball. Coming off of his longest start on Wednesday, Hutchison went four scoreless innings, allowing only two hits against the Baltimore Orioles. The 24-year-old has yet to allow a run in Spring Training.
Hutchison pitched a full and healthy 184 innings last season. The Blue Jays will need him to push the envelope in 2015, so look for him to reach 200 innings pitched. With Stroman sidelined, Drew discussed how he is managing expectations on Prime Time Sports (Sportsnet the Fan 590). “If you start putting added pressure on yourself, bad things happen, it’s important to stay in your lane and do what your capable of doing.” Drew also discussed how he is getting ready for the added workload. “Last year I had to come into camp and win my job…i’ve been able to ramp up my intensity leading into this season.” Hutchison looks to build on his 11 win season last year.
ONE PLAYER CAN’T WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP
Despite the outbreak of panic across Blue Jays nation, it is only March, and one player does not designate whether or not a team will be successful. Stroman would have been instrumental in Toronto’s accomplishments this season, but fans must believe in the organization, and in the young arms they have set in place to replace Marcus. In this game, injuries happen. The challenge in Toronto is to overcome this adversity. One unlucky step cannot change the outlook of an entire season, unless the Blue Jays allow it to.