Like many people, I witnessed my first Blue Jays playoff victories late last year. Many of the players that were difference makers during the playoff campaign remain on this roster, including Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Colabello.
Now expectations are higher and members of the team have some playoff experience that will help if Toronto makes it in to the playoffs this season. There is also a weight off the team now as they have now had some playoff success and likely will play looser and with more confidence this season.
Despite an off season that was somewhat disappointing, only because there was no big trade or signing by management, the Jays still boast a rotation that includes an improved Marcus Stroman, the re-signed Marco Estrada, veteran R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ and 23 year-old former first round pick Aaron Sanchez who currently has unlimited potential.
As well, the Jays are currently already having success in spring training. As of press time, Toronto has a preseason record of 17 wins and 5 losses. Sanchez has shown good form so far, with a 1.35 E.R.A. and 19 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. First baseman Justin Smoak is also having a great preseason, with 7 runs and 4 home runs.
This may also be Edwin Encarnacion’s last season with the Blue Jays as he has publicly said that the Blue Jays “don’t have it in their plans” for him to stay in town. This could lead to him having the best season of his career as he either tries to show management why they need to keep him around or to drive him to want to win with this team now.
Jose Bautista’s stats have been climbing the past few seasons from 28 home runs in 2013 to 40 in 2015, and there is no reason that the trend won’t continue. The Jays have one of the best offences in the league, with Bautista, Donaldson and Encarnacion among others. The big three combined last year for 120 home runs.
Now the slate has been wiped clean, and there is potential for anything to happen this season, but there are reasons to believe that the boys of summer will be showing Toronto some playoff baseball in the fall