Baseball Prospectus has released its 2018 PECOTA ‘Depth Charts’ and they figure the Blue Jays to finish 78-84, fourth in the AL East behind the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and 9 games ahead of the Orioles.
They have the Jays scoring 767 runs, second to the Yankees in the division. That would be a jump of 74 runs from last year. Most of that comes from predicting Donaldson plays more, Grichuk having a better year than Bautista, Martin playing more and improvement in the middle infield.
The offensive prediction that kind of interests me is that they have Troy Tulowitzki playing 70% of games at short, hitting .264/.335/.437 with 19 home runs and a 2.3 WAR. I’d be thrilled with that. On the flip side, they don’t have much hope for Devon Travis, figuring him to play 30% of our games at second, hitting .277/.322/.433.
They don’t have high hopes for Kevin Pillar either, having him hitting .267/.305/.393 and 0.9 WAR. And their projections underline the fact that we all already know, that we need someone better to back up Martin at catcher. They have Luke Maile playing 30% of the games at catchers, hitting .217/.273/.333 (much better numbers than last year).
They don’t expect Justin Smoak to do as well as last year. They have him hitting .242/.328/.432 with 25 home runs and a 0.7 WAR. I’ll take the over.
Our bigger problem, in PECOTA’s opinion, is our pitching. They project us allowing 796 runs, second worst in the division to the Orioles 875 runs allowed.
PECOTA is predicting Marco Estrada to have a bad year. They have him at a 5.09 ERA and a -0.1 WAR. They have higher hopes for Joe Biagini, a 4.42 ERA and a 1.0 WAR in 19 starts. Aaron Sanchez is predicted to have 23 starts and a 4.49 ERA, good for a 1.0. Stroman would be our ace with a 3.83 ERA and a 2.6 WAR.
PECOTA does seems to suggest that we do need another pitcher or two, which is something we already knew, but then it suggests the starting pitcher we should replace in the rotation isn’t Biagini but Estrada. I’m hoping, expecting them to be wrong on Marco, I don’t expect him to finish with an ERA over 5, but who knows.
I am hoping for better from the pitching staff, but I do think we need another starter. I think our depth has improved, that we can cover for an injury to a pitcher better than we need last year, but getting one more good arm or two, would help so much. The good news is that there are still a lot of good pitchers out there. The bad news? It doesn’t seem like any of the teams are interested in breaking the log jam.
I think our depth had improved everywhere. We won’t see 800+ PA from Barney and Goins, we should do better there. We have more depth in the outfield. We can handle an injury or two without it killing us. But then, the front line talent isn’t likely good enough.
Anyway, take a look at PECOTA’s numbers and give us your thoughts.