Toronto Blue Jays 2019 Betting Odds, Preview: The Future is Now (Sort Of)

Credit:

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

  • The Toronto Blue Jays have cut ties with most of the veterans from their winning ballclubs of yesteryear and are on the verge of a new era.
  • Led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., one of the greatest prospects ever, the Blue Jays are loaded with young talent that is about to hit the big leagues.
  • This year will be a transitional one, though, as their budding offense likely won't be able to offset their below-average pitching staff.

Original analysis published on Feb. 18. 

Get ready, Blue Jays fans! You are about to enter a new generation. The Vladdy Jr. generation.

Led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays have a group of prospects prepared to hit the big leagues over the next year or two. The Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson days are well in the past. Unlike the Orioles, the Blue Jays don’t have to wait long for their next group of stars.

Toronto Blue Jays 2018 Results

  • Record: 73-89 (-10.2 units), 73-89 ATS (-21.3 units)
  • Over/Under Record: 81-73-8 (Highest in MLB)
  • Preseason World Series Odds: 33-1
  • Win Total: 81.5
  • Most Profitable Starter: Thomas Pannone (5-1, +6.2 units)

Folks North of the border probably weren’t too happy with last year’s results, but the 2018 Blue Jays did what they had to do. Nothing. In fact, it probably would have been better if they were a bit worse so they would’ve ended up with a higher draft pick this summer.

Last year was essentially a bridge year that connected the remnants of the Blue Jays of old and the Blue Jays you’re about to find out about.

On a side note, they went over the total more than any team in baseball, but only eight more times than they went under.


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Toronto Blue Jays 2019 Odds

  • World Series Odds: +20000
  • Division Odds: +3000
  • Win Total O/U: 75.5
  • Playoff Odds: Make +1000, Miss -2000

The Jays are expected to improve by a few wins, but despite the excitement heading into the season, aren’t expected to be World Series contenders. Or division contenders … or playoff contenders, period.

Give this team a few years. Their organization is loaded with talent, but raw. This isn’t a squad you want to take a World Series flier on, even though they have some high-potential guys.

This is also a hard team to project in terms of wins due to their tough division and hit-or-miss players and pitchers.

Toronto Blue Jays Roster Notes

  • Key Additions: Clayton Richard, Matt Shoemaker, Freddy Galvis, Clay Buchholz, David Phelps, Bud Norris (minors), Eric Sogard (minors)
  • Key Subtractions: Troy Tulowitzki, Marco Estrada, Russell Martin, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Tyler Clippard, Dwight Smith Jr.
  • Potential Lineup
    1. Brandon Drury – 3B
    2. Randal Grichuk – RF
    3. Teoscar Hernandez – LF
    4. Justin Smoak – 1B
    5. Kendrys Morales – DH
    6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. – 2B
    7. Freddy Galvis – SS
    8. Kevin Pillar – CF
    9. Danny Jansen – C
  • Projected Rotation
    1. Marcus Stroman
    2. Aaron Sanchez
    3. Clayton Richard
    4. Matt Shoemaker
    5. Sam Gaviglio/Clay Buchholz
  • Prospect Watch: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (No. 1, 3B), Bo Bichette (No. 11, SS), Danny Jansen (No. 65, C), Anthony Alford (Unranked, OF), Cavan Biggio (Unranked, 2B)
  • Key Injuries: Devon Travis (Knee, mid 2019), David Phelps (Tommy John, early 2019), Ryan Borucki (Elbow, TBD)
  • MVP Candidates: Randal Grichuk (+5000), Justin Smoak (+6000), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+8000)
  • Cy Young Candidates Marcus Stroman (+5000), Aaron Sanchez (+10000)

Toronto Blue Jays Analysis

Player to Watch: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The hype. Is. REAL.

The son of a Hall-of-Famer, Vladdy Jr. has huge expectations after having a silly 2018 season in the minor leagues. He hit .381 with 20 homers in 95 games while striking out just one more time than he walked.

Don’t expect a second coming of the original Vlad, though, at least in terms of playing style. Vlad Sr. could hit, run and had a rocket of an arm in right field. The youngster is a third baseman and has a stockier build, but certainly has pops’ power.

In fact, he could wind up being a better overall hitter, as he’s possibly the best hitting prospect ever.

Steamer projects him to have a 138 wRC+, which is tied for 11th-best in the MLB and ahead of guys like Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Jose Altuve and Jose Ramirez.

Those are incredibly high expectations from someone with zero major league at-bats.

Vlad Jr. will turn 20 in March and could make the big club out of spring training, though Toronto will likely opt to keep him in the minors for the first few weeks to gain another year of control over him.

Considering how good Guerrero looks, they will probably want that extra year. That’s why he and Bo Bichette are both left out of the potential opening day lineup.

Pitcher to Watch: Marcus Stroman

The Blue Jays have a glut of stud position player prospects that will be coming up over the next year or two. Their offense could already be one of the better ones in the league by year’s end.

With that said, they can’t have their ace coming out there with an ERA north of 5.50, which is what the “Stro-Show” did last year. He was unlucky, but it was his second year out of the past three with an ERA higher than 4.00.

Stroman needs to be better. Luck or no luck, it doesn’t matter. You can’t be as unreliable and inconsistent as he’s been over the course of his career.

There’s one thing he does well and that’s induce ground balls. He’s probably the best MLB starter at it. But I don’t like the fact that his walks per nine have gone up every year in his career and his strikeouts per nine are dropping — below seven this past year.

Since he pitches to contact, he’ll be increasingly unsuccessful as his walks build up. This is especially true if his infield defense is subpar, as they have to deal with all those grounders.

For Stroman to be successful, he needs to take luck out of the equation a bit more. Limit the walks, increase the strikeouts. There’s a chance his infield is comprised of multiple hit-first rookies and Justin Smoak later in the year, so that’s not exactly a defense you can trust to get out of jams.

Summary

Despite being a Red Sox fan, I, like many other fans of the game, am very excited to see the Blue Jays’ prospects reach the show.

Unfortunately, Guerrero Jr. probably won’t be here until late April due to that silly controlability rule. There are mixed opinions as to when their second best prospect, Bichette, will be ready.

Last season, Toronto had a middle-of-the-pack offense and terrible pitching staff. The Blue Jays added two veterans to their staff in Clayton Richard and Matt Shoemaker, and will be looking for bounce-back years from Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.

They’re not going to be postseason contenders yet, even if their prospects do click. I see this team’s ceiling being around 85 wins — and that might be generous.

Their pitching staff remains mediocre and they had one of the worst defenses in the majors last year — and it doesn’t look like it will be much better in 2019.

There’s also the possibility that the Jays sell off some more of their older players at the deadline, such as Smoak, Kendrys Morales and Clayton Richard, who will all be free agents next year.

If there’s one team you want to watch in spring training, though, it’s this one.

All odds via Westgate SuperBook as of Feb. 17

Transactions accurate as of Mar. 24. Free agents deemed subtractions until they re-sign

Advanced data via Fangraphs.com, prospect ratings via MLB.com, prospects in prospect watch expected to be MLB-ready in 2019

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