The Blue Jays kick off the opening week at home, with the much improved New York Yankees. This series is a must-win for the Blue Jays as they need to start off hot. That might be challenging with the Yankees shoring up this past offseason in acquiring one of the best right fielders in the league, Giancarlo Stanton who is batting third in the lineup.
The reason for the Jays needing a hot start is that every team that was in front of them last year got ten times better. As mentioned the Yankees added to the second-best offense in the league by acquiring Giancarlo Stanton during the offseason. Stanton was the NL MVP last year as well posting a career high in home runs with 59. He also posted a career year in RBIs with 139. With his addition, the Yankees are primed to be the top-ranked offense in the league.
The Red Sox may not have made a big splash in offseason moves but they improved by changing the way things are run. They were not happy with the way things went with John Farrell, so they fired him and replaced him with Alex Cora. This change in management can improve the already deadly Red Sox with a new mind behind the bench ready and willing to what it takes to win.
With these improvements by the two biggest teams in the division, the Blue Jays are in a position where if they don’t start off hot, they will flounder this season. Another reason for the need for a hot start is to convince former American League MVP Josh Donaldson to re-sign. If the Blue Jays start off cold and miss the playoffs for a second straight year it could convince Donaldson that he should take his offense elsewhere, leaving the Jays with not much talent.
This series will be heated as all Jays and Yankee games are with both teams hoping to start off on the right foot. The Blue Jays, who didn’t make as many headlines this offseason, will certainly look much different. For the first time in 10 years, neither Jose Bautista nor Edwin Encarnacion will be on the Blue Jays’ roster.
But this roster has the potential to do some major damage.The Blue Jays have one of the best rotations in the league. With the addition of Jaime Garcia this past offseason, even if an injury occurs it will still do well.
The outfield will also have new face Randal Grichuk manning it with regulars Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar. The addition of Aledmys Diaz at shortstop will be a welcome sight as Troy Tulowitzski is out with an injury.
Some outstanding news though, Marcus Stroman was cleared to play after suffering an injury in spring training. He isn’t slated to start until the end of the series so that he can stay 100% healthy.
The pitchers on the slate to start for the Blue Jays for the opening series in order of starts are J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman. If all four of these pitchers are on their game then it should be an easy road for the Blue Jays. All four need to be on high alert with this Yankee lineup. It could be the deadliest lineup out of all teams in the league. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez alone combined for a total of 144 home runs last year.
The Blue Jays starters can nullify this offensive threat with all four starters only allowing 76 home runs combined last year. They also have a combined ERA of 3.96 last year. While a high number on its own this was during a down year for the main four and will certainly improve with a much better defense behind them this year. With all these stats combined the Blue Jays starters can stop a Yankees offense in its tracks and easily win this series to begin the new season right.
On the Yankee side, they have Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray. These four pitchers are deadly and can all easily shut down any offense. But much like the Jays, Yankees’ pitchers need to be careful.
The Jays may not have the big name fire powers as the Yankees, but they do have Josh Donaldson. Along with some fresh faces ready to prove themselves to the team in Aledmys Diaz and Randal Grichuk. With the two new guys ready to show their worth, and proven home run hitter in Donaldson, the Jays offense should be able to keep up the Yankees.