The Blue Jays Will Lose 80 Games
Our last article discussed why all of the newcomers would play key roles in helping the Toronto Blue Jays to win ninety games, and a likely American League East crown. With the Jays now 3 - 6 and stinking up ball parks across North America, let us examine why the Jays are overrated will be a slightly above .500 team. The big reason that the Jays were expected to be one of the best teams in the league this season is because of their revamped starting rotation. R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, along with Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow were supposed to shut down opposing offenses and lead the team to victory after victory. Am I being negative, or are those three starters vastly overrated? Based on the tiny sample size thus far, I'd say they are extremely overrated. Dickey has pitched well on a brutal Mets team for the past 3 years. Lets not forget, this is a renewed pitcher who has supposedly mastered the knuckleball. How many famous knuckleballers can you name? Exactly. There are very few. Dickey was great for the Mets, but the NL East and the AL East are totally different animals. You don't get to face a pitcher every nine batters. You have to go into New York, Boston, Tampa and even Baltimore and face stacked line ups day after day. How many 38 year old guys who couldn't crack the majors regularly in their 20s are seen as saviours who will lead a team to the World Series? I'd say none. The reality is, Dickey will struggle mightily this season. His knuckler will get spanked by the big bats in the AL, his ERA will skyrocket. His K's will plummet, and he won't even be a top 50 pitcher in the league this season. We know what we are getting with Mark Buerhle. A consistently mediocre performer who can eat innings but requires a lot of run support. The guy is a career .500 pitcher, which is good, but not leading anyone to the promised land. THe Jays need a 15 - 8 season from him. Not another 11 - 11 season with a 4.53 era. Thats not cutting it in the AL East. Buerhle thrived in the Central pitching for the White Sox. His defense is stupendous, but his stuff isn't. He gets by based on guile, not by pure stuff. When he's on, he's great, when he isn't he's terrible and it balances out often, as evidenced by his career .500 numbers. He's a #5 on a good team. Sorry Mark, sorry Gibby, Buerhle is not a #3 on a good team anymore. Then we have the enigmatic Josh Johnson. The kid is a flamethrower. He used to draw comparisons to a young Roy Halladay. He has the stuff that pitching coaches dream of. A hard fastball, a nasty sinker. He can mow down superstars all day - or can he? The Halladay comparisons were made before he was injured. I'd say that based on his first couple of starts for the Jays, he can be compared to 2013 Halladay, he of the 6.89 ERA who can't escape the fourth inning. The reality is that Johnson has been sheltered by the weak NL East for his entire career. He's never faced teams like the Yankees, Boston, etc. on a regular basis. The hitters in the AL will feast on his heater and just like we saw in Detroit today, he'll struggle against tough line ups. He couldn't get out of the 2nd inning. The only positive I can see is that he won't be able to command a big raise, but the bigger question is, why would the Jays want to resign him if he's that bad? The reality is that none of these starters are as bad as they have been over their first couple of starts. Buerhle will win as many as he loses. Dickey will regress from his numbers last year, but still be ok for a couple of years. I don't like what the Jays gave up for him, but its too late now, lets hope he wins at least ten games a season for us. Johnson is likely going to walk after this season and sign a big deal elsewhere. He's not Roy Halladay in his prime anyway, so I won't be that sad when he leaves. J.A. Happ has taken Romero's spot in the rotation, and he has looked like our ace thus far. Thats why we can't judge anything based on such a small sample size. While I am sure that Rickey is laughing from Dunedin and saying he could have been better than pretty much everyone but Happ thus far, the reality is that he was so bad last season, he went from being an opening day starter to single A ball. The Jays will bounce back, but are overrated. They'll flirt with .500 and end up a couple of games above it by the end of the season. It won't be a complete bust, but it won't be as successful as many thought. Bautista's antics will piss off the umps and the Jays won't get a lot of borderline calls. The Jays will miss Brett Lawrie, and their defense will suck. The magical Edwin Encarnacion of 2012 died in 2012. He isn't going to be putting up those numbers anymore. Look to see guys hitting their career averages. Jose Reyes will be dynamic, but he was dynamic for the last place Marlins last year too. Even with Bautista (who I see missing plenty of games too), the Jays will finish 82 - 80. Thats my prediction. WHat do you think?