In our Hope for the Hopeless series, we take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season.
The Blue Jays are an interesting team. General manager Alex Anthopolous is making moves that are generally thought of as cunning, slick, or whatever word you want to use. But it still hasn't translated onto the field yet. The 2012 Blue Jays team got nailed with something that there's no way to prepare for: an unparalleled glut of injuries.
Toronto has used 11 starters (and counting) this year. The worst part is that three pitchers underwent Tommy John surgery, meaning that they won't be ready for Opening Day next year, including young starters Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison. That immediately puts the Blue Jays, with a farm system with a lot of pitching talent at lower levels, in a difficult position for the 2013 season.
It's going to be a difficult 2013 season for the Blue Jays. The offense should be fine, assuming Jose Bautista comes back and continues to hit like Jose Bautista. Whatever they end up doing with the infield (minus Brett Lawrie) should be an improvement over 2012. The disastrous outfield play should get straightened out. Even the bullpen should be fine. But the starting pitching? Yeah, that will be an issue.
Brandon Morrow, JA Happ, and Ricky Romero are likely going to be penciled in for the top three spots in the rotation. Morrow was nearly half of 2012, Romero has been awful, and Happ has been terribly unlucky (4.69 ERA, 2.80 FIP). The other two spots? Uh...Henderson Alvarez and his microscopic strikeout rate, and maybe Brett Cecil, who has never been able to put it together for a full season. That doesn't instill a lot of faith in the AL East, where offense is usually a dominant force, and there is no room for 4-A starters.
In a year where the Orioles have stepped up big time and the Red Sox have taken a major step back, the Blue Jays are in their usual spot of mediocrity in the division. Next year, they'll probably be in the same place, even if Boston improves and Baltimore declines. There are rumors that the Blue Jays are looking at starting pitchers like Anibal Sanchez this offseason, and getting a veteran to top their rotation would probably be the best move for them and their young starters. At any rate, Toronto needs to do something about that rotation, because they're not contending next year with the way it's set up. If they can just bring in two starters, maybe a top of the line guy like Sanchez and another middle of the road player, they can make some noise in the American League with their offense.
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