It’s that time of year again, the sun is out, the birds are chirping and the snow has melted. It’s spring.
But, more importantly, it’s baseball season.
The Toronto Blue Jays will open their season on April 1st in the Bronx against the American League favourite New York Yankees. As the season grows closer, the anticipation and expectation grows larger. But what can we expect from this young and exciting Blue Jays team?
Here are my predictions for Toronto’s 2021 season:
No one can stop the Yankees
The New York Yankees are the favourites to win the American League this season and for good reason. If they can stay healthy, which has proven to be a challenge in the past, they will run away with the AL East.
The other formidable foe in the AL East for the Blue Jays (sorry Boston and Baltimore) is the Tampa Bay Rays. They are coming off of a World Series appearance but traded away their ace to San Diego. The rest of their team remains intact including young playoff phenom Randy Arozarena.
The Rays seem destined to repeat the success they had last year but I am not so confident. Entering last season I was very high on the Rays, I believed they were better than the Yankees and arguably the best team in the AL. But this year, I don’t have the same feeling. I think the Rays will regret trading away Blake Snell and will find life more difficult than they did last year.
The battle between the Rays and Blue Jays will be very close in the end, but if the Blue Jays pitching can hold their own I think the Blue Jays will finish second in the AL East edging the Rays by 2.5 games.
Most Valuable Player
The Blue Jays have a boatload of talent around the diamond but the one player that will stand out from the rest will be Bo Bichette. Bo Bichette has yet to play a full season in the major leagues, yet his impact has been astronomical. In 75 career games across the past two seasons Bichettte has slashed .307/.347/.549.
Here’s a Bo Bichette bat flip to get you through your day
— The Northside (@thenorthsideca) March 24, 2021
This will be the year that Bo Bichette catapults himself into the conversation of being a top five shortstop in the MLB. While his fielding still needs some work, his bat will do enough of the talking. I expect Bo to finish the season with an OPS of around .925. Keep an eye on the doubles leaderboard as well, you might just see him at the top.
The Blue Jays bullpen took a massive blow when it was announced that Kirby Yates would miss the entirety of the 2021 season as he’s set to undergo his second Tommy John surgery.
But when one door closes, another door opens. Well, the door has just opened for Jordan Romano.
The Markham, Ontario native broke out last season to the tune of a 1.23 ERA in 15 appearances. He has continued that momentum this spring with an ERA of 1.59 in five appearances. With Yates on the shelf the closer role is wide open and Romano is the man for the job. Anthony Bass got the majority of the save opportunities last season after Ken Giles went on the IL but Bass has moved on to the Miami Marlins, signing a two year, $5,000,000 deal this winter.
Jordan Romano seems to be getting better as his beard gets bigger.
There is, in my unbiased opinion, a direct correlation. #BlueJays
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) March 23, 2021
Jordan Romano will not only take the closer role this season, but he will run away with it. Romano will finish with over 30 saves this season.
There is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the starting rotation to keep up with the young bats this season. One pitcher who won’t be able to hold his own will be Tanner Roark.
Roark joined the Blue Jays prior to the 2020 season. He signed a two year, $24,000,000 deal and was expected to be an inning eater like he had been for the previous six years of his career. But Roark’s Blue Jays career seemed to never get off the ground. He finished 2020 with an ERA of 6.80 in 47.2 IP.
With Roark’s past, it’s possible he can bounce back and be a workhorse for the Blue Jays, but I just don’t think it will happen. He currently has a ERA of 8.44 in spring training.
And now Derek Dietrich knocks Tanner Roark outta the game with an RBI single. Roark threw 27 pitches and recorded just one out pic.twitter.com/Tnilm27b6X
— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) March 21, 2021
I think Roark will struggle out of the gate this season and will lose his spot in the rotation to a younger arm like Anthony Kay. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tanner Roark isn’t wearing a Blue Jays uniform by the end of the season.
The Blue Jays are coming off of a playoff appearance in 202o but this year the playoff format goes back to normal. There are three less playoff spots up for grabs and there is plenty of competition for the two Wild Card spots the Blue Jays will be hunting for. The Blue Jays will be battling with the likes of Tampa Bay, Chicago and Houston for a spot in the opening round of the playoffs.
I believe that the extremely talented lineup of the Toronto Blue Jays will carry them to their second straight playoff appearance as the second seeded Wild Card team. With Ryu on the bump, I see the Blue Jays being able to best the first seeded Wild Card team in a one game set and move on to the ALDS.
But by winning the Wild Card game, the Blue Jays would have to enter Bronx to take on the big bad Yankees. The Bronx is where the Blue Jays will start their season and it will also be where they end their season. The Blue Jays starting rotation won’t be able to contain the bats of the Yankees over a five game set and they will watch their AL East rivals go on to play in the ALCS.
A loss in the ALDS would be a tough pill to swallow but I think the Blue Jays are a team that will be a force to recon with in 2022 and beyond.