Back in 2016, the Blue Jays proved just how far a great starting rotation can carry a ball club. Unfortunately, Toronto’s rotation couldn’t continue that success into 2017 due to injuries to Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ, as well as the inconsistent play of Marco Estrada and Francisco Liriano. Now two years removed from being arguably the best rotation in baseball, how do Toronto’s five starters measure up heading into the new season?
For starters, not many teams (especially those in the AL East) have two starting pitchers as young and talented as Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. What Stroman and Sanchez give the Blue Jays is two legitimate aces and a 1-2 punch that’s hard for any team to match. Imagine being the Blue Jays and going into Yankee Stadium fifteen years ago for a 3-game series. Roy Halladay would win his one start (that is if Toronto was lucky enough to have him going), and then it was almost a given that New York would take the other two games. It’s a different story these days though, with Toronto having five solid big league starters that you’d feel comfortable putting up against anyone.
Some people might point out that Happ and Estrada are getting up there in years. The wonderful thing about Happ is that he only seems to be getting better with age. Having gone 30-15 with a 3.33 ERA since signing with Toronto two years ago. Estrada meanwhile wants to make-up for a rough 2017 and prove he can still be the quality pitcher he was during his first two seasons with the Blue Jays.
The addition of Jaime Garcia was so important if Toronto wants to have any chance of making a run at the post-season in 2018. Prior to his signing, the rotation was incomplete. as it lacked a legitimate 5th starter. Even with the addition of Garcia, the Blue Jays are still lacking in depth beyond their top five starters. Which is why the health of Stroman, Sanchez, Happ, Estrada, and Garcia is one of the key factors if Toronto wants to get back to their winning ways.
The current Blue Jays rotation has it in them to be every bit as good (if not better) as they were in 2016 when their starters went a combined 66-41 with a 3.64 ERA and 995.1 IP. This compared to the 47-60, 4.57 ERA, and 868.1 IP Toronto got from their starters in 2017. The Blue Jays may not have the same offensive punch they had when they made it to back-to-back ALCS’. What they do still possess is a formidable group of starting pitchers. And if they can manage to stay relatively healthy, there’s no doubt that this rotation can get back to being the class of the AL East and help lead the Blue Jays in their push to keep pace with the Yankees and Red Sox.