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2015 Toronto Blue Jays Team Preview: Fantasy 30 For 30

Despite some minor injuries to a bunch of key players, the Toronto Blue Jays main cogs were healthy for most of the season last year. Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Melky Cabrera, and Dioner Navarro at the top of the order all played about 80 percent of their team’s games last season and, at times, the offense was downright explosive. The ballpark is conducive to a lot of homers and runs scored, so expect more of the same from the Blue Jays in 2015.

We took the projected lineup, rotation and bullpen from

Projected “Go-To” Lineup

  1. SS Jose Reyes
  2. C Russell Martin
  3. RF Jose Batista
  4. 1B Edwin Encarnacion
  5. 3B Josh Donaldson
  6. DH Dioner Navarro
  7. LF Michael Saunders
  8. 2B Maicer Izturis
  9. CF Dalton Pompey

Projected Pitchers

Starting Rotation
  1. RHP R.A. Dickey
  2. LHP Mark Buehrle
  3. RHP Drew Hutchinson
  4. RHP Marcus Stroman
  5. LHP Daniel Norris
  • LHP Brett Cecil (closer)
  • RHP Marco Estrada
  • RHP Steve Delabar

Toronto Blue Jays Fantasy Studs

Reyes and Bautista have both been off the board in the first three rounds of most season-long drafts in the past and that should continue again this year. Encarnacion is a guy who may be joining them there. He had a HR rate last season better than 1 in 16 ABs. His swing is perfect for the Rogers Centre, as it yields the most extra base hits to right-handed hitters of any stadium in the majors. If he can stay healthy and get 600 at-bats this year, a 35-40 HR campaign is very attainable.

Newly acquired Josh Donaldson should also be drafted much higher this season. The righty from Oakland is moving from one of the worst parks for hitters in MLB to one of the best. That switch alone should give a boost to his already solid HR numbers from last season. The revolving door at third base for Toronto included Juan Francisco and Brett Lawrie last year. Plugging in another big bat behind Encarnacion to provide some protection should benefit the middle of that Jays order. Donaldson could be the third or fourth third basemen off the board this year in most Fantasy formats. Our Michael Tomlin, however, thinks Donaldson has a chance to be a Fantasy Bust in 2015.

Sleeper Candidates: Russell Martin, Michael Saunders

The first candidate for a bigger year is Russell Martin. Another guy getting a switch from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s one, Martin is slated to bat second behind Reyes and in front of the big bats. Lineup position alone ensures he should see more pitches to hit, and playing in that ballpark should give his numbers a tick up, as well. He is not a top catching option in my eyes, but you can do much worse reaching higher for a number of guys he should outproduce by season’s end.

The other guy worth noting is Michael Saunders, who was acquired from the Mariners. Saunders has speed and power, both of which he will be able to use more often in Toronto. If he can pull up his batting average into the .280 range to go along with projections of around 20 HRs and 10 SBs, he could be a very useful mid- to late-round addition to your Fantasy squads.

Bust Candidates: Brett Cecil, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle

The pitching is where I can see things really fall apart for the Blue Jays in 2015. Brett Cecil is slated as the closer at the moment, but there are rumblings from some in the organization about not wanting a left-handed pitcher to close. Moving Cecil to that role also eliminates a major weapon against right-handed hitters earlier in the game. I like Cecil and think he is in for another nice year, but I’m not 100 percent sure he does get the closer’s role. He is being drafted well ahead of last season, where he was not drafted at all, but if he does not get the closer role then, he is not much better than 10 other guys who are setup men you can pick up off waivers after your drafts.

R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are two guys who will get drafted in your leagues because they do chew up innings, but I doubt we see either as a main cog on any winning Fantasy teams short of a 20-man league. The strikeouts were down last season for Dickey and Buehrle had a strong start but faded as the weather got warmer. Neither guy is a top-of the-rotation type anymore, and with their advanced age, an injury could shelve them for a long stretch. The young pitching has some question marks, but I would rather take a chance on a Marcus Stroman or Drew Hutchinson, then go for either of the two mentioned.

Top Rookies: Dalton Pompey, Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez

Toronto has decided to fuse their core with a bunch of top prospects for the 2015 campaign. To start, they are calling up top prospect Dalton Pompey to be the everyday center fielder and hit him ninth in the order. Pompey projects as a future leadoff man with plus defensive abilities. He hit .313 in the minors and has had years with 35-plus stolen bases. He won a Gold Glove in the Florida State League for his play in center field and projects as a guy who can cover a ton of ground in that cavernous outfield in Toronto. They will keep him low in the order to get some experience and roll him out almost daily in Rogers Centre. He is a guy to keep an eye on for a cheap source of SBs as a streaming option for the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays also have two big time pitching prospects who should factor into the mix this year. LHP Daniel Norris and RHP Aaron Sanchez are both under 23 years old and both are slated to be with the big club this year. One of them is going to be slated as the fifth starter unless Toronto acquires another starter and the other should be the long relief man with a good chance to start when the first injury occurs.

Both guys are ranked No. 1 or No. 2 by most MLB prospect-watching services within the Blue Jays organization and Norris has the inside track to be No. 5 starter since they currently only have Buehrle from that side in the rotation.

Sanchez may actually project as more of a reliever in the majors, as his fastball is electric and his curve is probably a plus pitch as well. He had a high WHIP in the minors, so many are concerned with him having control issues. He definitely has major-league type stuff, so it will be interesting to see how Toronto tries to develop him.

What Should We Know About the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays?

Toronto should have one of the better offenses in baseball again this year and with their home park being the Coors Field of the American League, I have no doubt they will put up a lot of runs again.

2015 Team Previews: AL East
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The thing that hurts them, as always, is a lack of pitching. I like the young arms, but a rotation topped by Buehrle and Dickey with an unproven closer in Cecil (if he wins the job) is not going to be a strength for them.

They did lose a few pieces in the off season, like Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus and Adam Lind. The addition of Donaldson and Saunders, with the rookie Pompey, should actually prove to be a positive swap for them in the batting average and on-base percentage departments. It’s probably a tick down in the power category, but they have a few guys in the meat of that order that can make up for that.

I like the moves on offense for them, but pitching wins championship and this team is woefully short in that department. Target some bats here, but the pitching from this team should be worth nothing more than a late-round flier or two on some of the younger guys.

Jose Bautista Photo Credit: Keith Allison

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