1) The Rotation
Let’s make something perfectly clear – this year’s projected rotation for the Blue Jays is top-notch. How could you not be excited by a starting five of Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano?
However, the reason for including them as one of the four reasons for not winning the AL East, has nothing to do with their talent. It’s about the chances — or lack thereof — of remaining as healthy as last season.
The 2016 addition of the Blue Jays’ rotation was remarkably durable, combining to start 152 out of a possible 162 games. In total, their starters combined for the most innings in the Majors.
The knock on effect was evidenced by finishing the season with the fourth-best ERA in the league. Among other things, they also allowed the third-lowest batting average and fifth-best WHIP.
It’s additonally worth noting that R.A. Dickey was one of the Blue Jays’ most reliable workhorses during these last four years and he is no longer with the club. Throw in the likelihood that Happ shouldn’t be expected to repeat last season’s career year of going 20-4, and the rotation — while still being very productive – will take a step back in 2017.