Toronto Blue Jays: Is contending for a wild-card spot realistic?

Rowdy Tellez of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Rowdy Tellez of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Blue Jays enter the 2020 season with a young and much-improved team, but is it enough to challenge for a wild-card spot in the American League?

Back in March, the Toronto Blue Jays weren’t considered playoff contenders. Now that Opening Day is finally here, the roster hasn’t changed.

However, in a 60-game season, anyone can get hot, especially the Blue Jays. In a shortened season anything is possible, so yes, in a way, they have a chance.

The home field situation has yet to be resolved, after Canada’s Federal government denied the Blue Jays approval to play at the Rogers Centre. They are still looking for a place to call home, which might be easier said than done after also getting rejected in Pittsburgh.

Returning to their wild card chances’, I wrote a piece on five MLB teams who could surprise this season, which included the Blue Jays.

The Athletic‘s Jim Bowden posted on Twitter his AL East prediction.  Bowden has the Blue Jays finishing third in the division, and a few games shy of the wild-card.

However, with a budding young, improving core, Toronto could cause some headaches for opposing teams. The infield features Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Guerrero will be positioned at first base instead of third. Guerrero’s entering his sophomore season, but is embracing the move across the diamond.

New additions Travis Shaw and Joe Panik will likely serve as utility men, bouncing around the diamond. The outfield remains an issue, especially in centre field after the departure of Kevin Pillar. The starting outfield consists of Lourdes Guriel Jr., Randal Grichuck, and Teoscar Hernandez.

During the off-season the Blue Jays retooled their starting pitching rotation. They added Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, and Chase Anderson.

The rotation has improved from where it was a year ago. In 2019, the starting rotation pitched a 4.79 ERA, which ranked 21st in the league. Matt Shoemaker will return to the rotation after missing most of last season due to an ACL tear.

Ryan Borucki, Nate Pearson, Anthony Kay, and Shun Yamaguchi will compete for the fifth rotation spot. Yamaguchi, who spent his career as a reliever, could be the Blue Jays’ swingman. Kay could also land in the bullpen too.

Pearson, the Blue Jays top prospect, could make his big league debut in 2020. With 60 games in 67 days, teams only need to hold down a rookie for six days. This prevents the player from earning a year of service time, giving the Blue Jays control for seven years, not six.

So what about Rowdy Tellez, Derek Fisher, and Anthony Alford? These players were on the edge of the rose back in March.

We’ll likely see Tellez in the DH spot while playing some first base. Fisher and Alford will bounce around in the outfield.

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Teams can have 30 players for the first two weeks of the season. Then, the roster is trimmed down to 28 and then to 26 after 30 days.

Toronto’s offensive core is tied to how the young kids improve. Six players will be in their second or third year in the majors, and any could take a significant step forward. If they can make some substantial gains, this all would be very beneficial for a team potentially eyeing a surprise wild-card contender status.

It’ll be an exciting challenge for the Blue Jays, even though they will face stiff competition.

The AL East is one of the toughest divisions and baseball, especially with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. The NL East is somewhat similar, with a very good Atlanta Braves team and the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals, plus the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.

Toronto will be full of surprises this season, even though they’re still rebuilding are projected to be in the bottom third of the league. I don’t think the Blue Jays will likely threaten for a playoff spot, but expect them to compete in every game.

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Do you think the Toronto Blue Jays have a chance to make the post-season? What will their record be this season? Let us know in the comments below.