Toronto Blue Jays Season Preview: Looking at the starting rotation

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Marcus Stroman
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Marcus Stroman /
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Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Marco Estrada

Out of all the pitchers that can but also needs a bounce-back year, it is Estrada. He made it a point in spring training to make necessary adjustments to his changeup, in order to get it back to being his dominant pitch.

The team hopes that giving him a contract extension last season gives Estrada some peace of mind. He has been one of the best pitchers during spring training, despite a rough outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He made our list of players who have impressed over the course of the spring, because of his ability to locate pitches and deceive batters with the change in speed between his changeup and his fastball.

One thing Estrada has focused on this spring according to Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun, is trying to mix in other pitches into his repertoire. He wants to employ a curveball and cutter more regularly than he has in the past.

"“I am a fastball-change up guy, but I do need those other pitches,” said Estrada about working in other pitches. “I’ve got to show something else, especially days where my change up isn’t at its best, or I’m not locating the fastball, I have something else to go to and it’s good to have those in your back pocket when you need them. But I also want them to be good when I do need them. This is what spring training is for, you work on your pitches, you get a good feel for those and right now everything feels real good.”"

Now everybody knows the veteran pitcher is not a high-velocity pitcher, so his pitches require movement and pinpoint accuracy in order to be successful. The 34-year-old enjoyed two straight superb seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, but hit a bump in the road last season.

He threw a career-high in innings but had his worst season in ERA, hits, runs and home runs allowed, although he also had a career-high 176 strikeouts.

TSN‘s Scott Cullen projected Estrada to throw 182 innings, and record 11 wins, 162 strikeouts and a 4.15 ERA in 2018, which would be an improvement from last season.

Tip of the Tower projection: 181 IP, 12 wins, 3.76 ERA, 154 strikeouts.