Part three of a five-part series on the American League East sees us examining why it is the Toronto Blue Jays‘ year to finally win the division.
The Blue Jays had a busy offseason adding two big bats in Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics and Russell Martin via free agency. They finally addressed their biggest need in signing Martin to a five-year deal. Donaldson has become one of the best third basemen in the league and will provide power and strong defense at the hot corner.
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are arguably the best three-four hitters in baseball and with the additions of Martin and Donaldson make this one of the deepest lineups Toronto has had in a while. Dalton Pompey finally gets to take over in center field with the losses of Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus to free agency. Pompey has had a great spring hitting .327 in 17 games. The Blue Jays will also rely on a bounce-back season from their new first baseman Justin Smoak.
Their lineup will score a ton of runs and hit a lot of home runs. None of that is too surprising. However, in this very winnable division their offseason will carry them to a division crown. But this pitching staff is not one to look past. The loss of Marcus Stroman, who appeared ready to become their ace, to an ACL injury hurts their rotation. With veterans like Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, they have a good mix of young talent and veteran savvy. Drew Hutchison has had a very strong spring and the Blue Jays are going to need him to improve on his season in order to take down the rest of the AL East.
We all know the Jays can hit and they should be even better in 2015, which is a scary thought. That alone will win them this division and get back to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Currently that streak is the longest in Major League Baseball. The Blue Jays are in prime position to take hold of the AL East. Their deep lineup and combination of youth and veterans in their rotation will give Toronto fans something to cheer for this year. Their bullpen, led by Brett Cecil, should be better this season on their way to a division title.
Is this the year the Blue Jays finally get back to the postseason? On paper it sure looks like they will win the East and it may not be close.