Source: Rick Madonik / Toronto Star
This season is supposed to be a wash for the Toronto Blue Jays, and with almost everyone gone from those 2015 and 2016 playoff teams, Toronto has gone a different direction with their roster. New management has decided to focus on young players and prospects hoping that it brings the Jay's back to the playoffs and glory years in the near future.
However there are two names that are at a crossroads with the Jays organization and that's starting pitchers, Marcus Stroman, and Aaron Sanchez. Both dubbed the future of the Blue Jays starting rotation back in 2013, Aaron Sanchez has been having severe issues with his fingers and right hand. Two seasons ago he was the American League ERA champion, last year, however, he struggled with an ERA close to 5 and a record of 4-6. While he is a starter, can Sanchez still throw 6-7 innings of baseball? It seems highly unlikely that Toronto would put him in the bullpen but it wouldn't surprise me if they do if Sanchez continues his battles with finger issues.
Much like Sanchez, Marcus Stroman is looking to rebound this season. Stroman also dealt with injuries last year and it showed in his performance. By the time he was placed on the 10-day disabled list in early May, Stroman was 0-5 and finished the season with just 4 wins in 19 starts. The "Stroshow" will be looking to replicate his 2017 season where he topped 200 innings and had the highest ground ball percentage in the league. It seems the Jays have faith he will rebound, as the Duke product will be the starter on Opening Day.
Coming into this season, the Jays rotation will look different. Marco Estrada was the ace in 2017 but signed with Oakland in the offseason. J.A Happ was the team's opening day starter last year but was traded to the Yankees. The fifth pitcher Jaime Garcia didn't pan out with the Jays and was released during last season. Sanchez and Stroman are the only pitchers left from last seasons rotation.
There's a lot riding on this season for both pitchers. Stroman wants a long term contract with the Jays and is passionate about the city and team, but feels like the organization stiffed him by only agreeing to a one year deal. Sanchez is making close to 4 million this season and would like to be signed to for long term after this season. Both Sanchez and Stroman can't be trusted with long term investments. Toronto has two potential all-star pitchers, yet both pitchers have had setbacks on the mound in recent years. Hopefully, Stroman and Sanchez can be the pitchers they once were, making the Jays rotation competitive. They're still young and can be the core pieces to the Jays future along with Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Danny Jansen and Cavan Biggio. If both have a bad 2019 season there's a good chance that the Jays patience will run out and might end a once-promising era for the Blue Jays.